U.S. and Egypt Resume Formal Diplomatic Relations

The United States and Egypt resumed formal diplomatic relations today and agreed to the immediate exchange of ambassadors. The announcement was made in Cairo first and by the White House later the morning. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger is presently in Cairo conferring with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The U.S. Ambassador designate to Cairo is Herman F. Eilts, a 51-year-old career diplomat who was formerly ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian Ambassador to Washington is Dr. Ashraf Gorbal, President Sadat’s press advisor who until last spring headed the Egyptian interests section at the Indian Embassy in Washington.

Today’s announcement ended a six-year rupture in U.S.-Egyptian diplomatic relations which began when the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser severed ties with the U.S. after the 1967 Six-Day War and made charges, later retracted, that the U.S. Air Force had participated with Israel in the war against Egypt. Despite the absence of formal relations, Egypt continued to be represented in Washington by a mission operating out of the Indian Embassy while a U.S. Mission operated similarly out of the Spanish Embassy in Cairo. The missions of both nations were equivalent in size to normal Embassy staffs. U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers visited Cairo two years ago despite the absence of formal ties.

The resumption of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Egypt had been expected for some time. But its timing today, in the midst of crucial negotiations by Kissinger and Arab leaders on cease-fire problems and future peace negotiations in the Middle East, gave strong indications that Egypt may have received quid pro quo from the U.S. The nature of U.S. concessions, if any, are unknown. Kissinger met with newsmen in Cairo today after three hours of talks with Sadat, and with Sadat at his side, said, “We are moving forward toward peace.” Sadat repeated Kissinger’s words and said, “I agree with him.” It was not immediately clear whether their agreement was predicated on the resumption of diplomatic relations or on some advances made toward a settlement of cease fire issues. Meanwhile, Joseph J. Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, arrived unexpectedly today in Tel Aviv. (See separate story.)

Eilts. like Kissinger, was born in Germany and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1930. He is a member of the group of American foreign service professionals known as “Arabists” because of their long association with Arab countries and alleged pro-Arab bias. Eilts served as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1965-70. His diplomatic career also took him to Teheran. Jidda, Aden, Baghdad and Tripoli.

White House press secretary Ronald Ziegler, questioned by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, declined to comment on whether the Nixon Administration is considering retaliatory economic measures against Arab countries refusing to sell oil to the United States, whether agreements other than the exchange of ambassadors have resulted from Kissinger’s visit to Cairo, whether the ambassadorial arrangement preceded the Secretary’s departure from Washington Monday, and what the President’s view is towards the European Common Market countries’ decision taking a pro-Arab stand against Israel. Ziegler observed that he could not discuss the Middle East situation in view of Kissinger’s current talks in the area.

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