WASHINGTON (Jan. 6)
Joseph Nathaniel Greene Jr., the career diplomat who will succeed Donald C. Bergus as the chief American representative in Cairo, was described today by diplomatic sources here as a “very highly experienced officer” who despite lack of direct Middle East experience is “not unknowledgeable about the area.”
Although it is too soon to know how Greene will approach his new duties, it was pointed out that he has adhered to Nixon administration policy and is “in no way connected” with the State Department “Arabists.” He does not speak Arabic, but one source said that was not a major requis- ite for the job and that he “probably will forego the intense training in Arabic if he gets into it at all.”
Asked if Jewish diplomats were automatically not named to major posts in Arab countries–Greene is believed to be non-Jewish–one source insisted that was “a consideration that to the best of my knowledge doesn’t come up.” Asked to name any Jewish diplomats now serving in such posts, the official said he could not as he did not think of appointees in terms of religion.
DATE OF SHIFT NOT DISCLOSED
State Department spokesman Charles Bray, in confirming Greene’s appointment yesterday, denied “categorically” that Bergus was being replaced at Egypt’s insistence. Bergus, it will be recalled, stirred controversy last summer when he delivered to Cairo leaders a proposal for a Suez Canal pact–immediately dubbed the “phantom memo”–that varied from Nixon administration policy. Although the State Department defended Bergus as an out-standing diplomat, it was not long before he was recalled for an as yet unspecified “reassignment.” The first scheduled replacement for Bergus was Michael Sterner, the Arabist who heads the State Department’s Egyptian affairs desk and is a personal friend of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Greene, 51, a native New Yorker, has held diplomatic posts over the past 30 years in countries around the world. Last fall he was named diplomat-in-residence at Brandeis University. The specific date of Greene’s shift to Cairo has not yet been disclosed. He could not be reached for comment.