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John F. Kennedy Administration: Letter to Nasser Concerning Yemen, Arms & Arab Refugees

(April 18, 1963)

This is a telegram from the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic, transmitting a letter from President Kennedy to Nasser addressing Yemen, arms in the Near East and Arab refugees.

"Ambassadors Bunker and Badeau have reported to me their recent conversations with you and Mr. Ali Sabri and the fine cooperation which you extended to them. I want to express my appreciation for your constructive and statesmanlike approach.

I am sure--and I am writing Crown Prince Faysal in this vein also--that the parties to the Yemen conflict will extend the same cooperation toward the United Nations Secretary General and his personal representative as they have to Ambassador Bunker and will fully and expeditiously implement disengagement and withdrawal from the Yemen conflict. We are counting on your friendly counsel to the Yemen Arab Republic to assure its cooperation.

Ambassador Badeau has also reported to me that you expressed some concern to him lest the United States be changing its policy toward the United Arab Republic. United States policy has not changed, nor do I see any current reason to change it. While the course of our cooperation inherently cannot always be smooth, I am greatly heartened by the fact that through the application of patience, effort and good will we have been able to cushion the shocks, to find escapes from difficult impasses and to point the way toward solution of problems that might at first glance have seemed impossible.

As Mr. Komer told you, I am quite concerned over the risks--and costs--inherent in the arms spiral in the Middle East. At the same time, I can understand your own security preoccupations, as well as those of Israel. I can assure you that we intend to maintain a balanced perspective on this problem, and to approach it in a fair minded and even-handed manner.

As you know, we regard last December's action by the United Nations General Assembly as a clear and renewed mandate to continue to try to help the Arab refugees out of the stalemate which prevents them from taking a place as useful members of society and which, in this country, has led each year to an increasing problem for us in maintaining our support of UNRWA at present levels. Building upon the Assembly's new resolution and upon the useful exploration which has taken place in the past year and a half, we are undertaking, as a member of the Commission, further bilateral talks with the governments primarily concerned. We approach these in the same spirit of objectivity and humanitarian concern which has guided our efforts so far. I look forward to hearing about your talks with Ambassador Badeau on this when other matters permit you to turn your attention to it.

I should not let the occasion pass, Mr. President, without extending to you and to your Iraqi and Syrian collaborators, a word of congratulation on the agreement in principle announced in Cairo on the formation of a new and enlarged United Arab Republic. It seems that through a process of firm negotiation a sound constitutional structure is being created with a view to meeting the aspirations and views of the Arab peoples concerned.

Sincerely, John F. Kennedy"



Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.