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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 21, 1965

MINUTES OF THE SECOND MEETING BETWEEN PREMIER ZHOU ENLAI AND PRESIDENT NASSER

This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation

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    Zhou and Nasser discuss developments in Algeria, the Second Asian-African Conference, oil in the Middle East, US foreign policy, and the economic situation in Egypt.
    "Minutes of the Second Meeting between Premier Zhou Enlai and President Nasser," June 21, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 107-01081-10, 21-28. Translated by Stephen Mercado. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/165423
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Foreign Ministry File

 Level: Secret 614

Summary of Second Conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai and President Nasser

(Premier has not yet reviewed)

Time: 11 a.m., 21 June 1965

Place: President’s residence, Cairo

Summary

1. Nasser passed on the contents of a telegram from Amer: Boumedienne can control the situation. The Algerian side proposes holding the Asian-African Conference;

2. Nasser spoke of economic issues of the United Arab Republic (UAR) and of relations with the United States.

Nasser: I previously received a telegram from Amer, saying that Ben Bella is in good health. Later I received a brief telegram (reads a sheet of paper held in his hand). The telegram says that he and Boumedienne held long talks. In regard to the contents of the talks he would return to that later. He said that the military is under the control of Boumedienne. There is no visible reaction in Algiers, only some student demonstrations. The Algerian side thinks that the Asian-African Conference should take place as scheduled. The revolutionary council has not yet been established. Most of its members will be appointed. The plan will include around 30 members, with military men in the majority. Boumedienne’s way is clear and correct. Amer asked to see Ben Bella. They said that he could see him, but that Ben Bella was not in Algiers, and far from Algiers, so he did not see him. Boumedienne guaranteed Ben Bella’s safety and said that he would not have him brought before a military tribunal. But Boumedienne thinks that not having Ben Bella brought before a military tribunal would be unjust.

Ben Bella was too confident. Four days before the incident happened there were persons who reported to Ben Bella that Boumedienne would launch a coup d’état. But Ben Bella said that he trusted Boumedienne, that he would not do it.

Premier Zhou: He lacks experience. It is always in the process of development that people gradually accumulate experience.

Nasser: The enemy has more than 50 times plotted assassinations and coups d’état against me. The last one was three years ago, done by a military officer. This military officer was not a Free Officer, but he and I worked together. He was later relieved of his duties, and then went to Vienna to seek out the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He said that he wanted to kill me. The CIA said that there was at present no plan against Nasser – the CIA is very careful – but asked that he stay in contact with them. After his return he sought out a number of military officers. Just as he approached a fourth military officer, this fourth military officer informed us. We then arrested him. He obtained 40 British pounds each month from the CIA. The Americans are all double-dealing. The US ambassadors always have a smile on their face; the CIA is another type of face. Imperialism, on the eve of launching in 1965 an invasion against Egypt, dispatched a jet fighter to shoot down Amer’s aircraft. Fortunately, at that time something came up while Amer was at the Damascus airport, so he called for another Egyptian aircraft to take off in advance. As a result, the fighter jet shot down the aircraft. I now pay particular attention when travelling to luggage security. The luggage of every member of a delegation, including mine, must be inspected by security guards, then sealed and sent on board a separate aircraft. The luggage does not go with me.

At present the West is spreading rumors, saying that Nasser has gone communist. They do not want that we develop ourselves and do not want to see our social revolution.

Our plan’s administrative problems remain relatively easy to solve. Ninety percent of our industry and foreign trade are already nationalized. On the agriculture side, too, we have are organizing peasant collectivization. Major stores, banks, and insurance enterprises have also been nationalized.

The current problem is that consumption has increased, but foreign exchange is scarce. In order to solve the lack of foreign exchange, we have halted imports of certain raw materials. This has affected some of our industries, making them go from three shifts to one. At the same time, the employment problem has also grown. The decrease in production has affected prices. Because of this, there has appeared a certain amount of inflation. Annual consumption has grown by 8 percent, the population by 2.3 percent, and production by 7.1 percent. In 1952, there were 4.5 million persons employedbut at present there are 7.5 million persons employed. We have also set a minimum wage and a seven-hour work system. Workers’ wages, too, have been increased three times. We now have begun to feel that there are some problems and that we now need to solve these problems.

Premier Zhou:It takes time for a new country to cast off the remnants of colonialism and establish an independent national economy and to solve numerous difficulties and those difficulties still not anticipated. The main thing is to rely on your own efforts, with a strong leader and correct direction. Next, there is also the need to conduct mutually beneficial cooperation with some other countries. In a short period of time, this is difficult. We at present are still not strong enough. In 10 years, we will have grown yet stronger and will then be able to conduct even more mutually beneficial cooperation. In these 10 years, you will have to use some so-called foreign aid that, it goes without saying, you would not wish to use. That is to say, aid from the United Nations and the West. They attach unfavorable conditions. But when mutual aid between Asian and African countries still cannot completely solve problems, one cannot but use such so-called aid as a transitional measure. Most important here is to have a policy of national independence, united within and on guard against the enemy’s destruction.

Nasser: In regard to foreign aid, the United States in 1956 gave us 50 million dollars of foreign aid. There were no conditions then. It was to use for building roads and such, not for industry. But at the time of the Suez Canal incident, this aid stopped. In 1960, we again reached agreement with the United States, using our national currency to buy wheat. It started with 20 million British pounds and last year was 80 million British pounds, all for buying wheat. Seventy-five percent of this is a 30-year loan at an interest rate of four percent. This loan can be used in our development plan. The United States uses this money for its embassy and tourists’ consumption.

Premier Zhou: Didn’t this affect your finances?

Nasser: No, because the banks are all state-owned. According to the agreement, only when we agree to it can they withdraw the money. Of this we can use 25 percent but need to obtain their agreement. At present the United States has already completely halted aid. We lack foreign exchange but need to import food. They then exerted pressure on us, starting with the issue of Yemen, later on the issue of Israel. At the end of 1963, Nixon sent his representative here, discussing with us the issue of aid. His proposed aid conditions were: first, agree not to develop nuclear weapons and give the United States the right of inspection; second, halt our rocket production and give the United States the right of inspection; and third, not increase our military and maintain a balance of power with Israel. Our response was: In 1953, when we discussed arms aid with you, you asked that US military officials have the right of inspection. We then rejected your arms aid, so we naturally rejected your demand. Last year Johnson on the aid issue again proposed the same conditions, demanding that we halt aid to Yemen, halt the production of rockets and development of nuclear weapons, and halt the purchase of weapons from the Soviet Union. We also rejected this demand. When we were supporting the people of the Congo and supporting Cyprus, the United States again raised the same problem. When our supply minister approached the US ambassador to discuss the aid issue, the US ambassador said: I am not authorized to discuss the aid issue. Under such circumstances, in December last year, I gave a speech, saying that we could not accept aid with conditions and would live without aid. Later, Johnson informed me that the United States would not allow the breaking of the balance of power between the Arab countries and Israel. Therefore, the United States was now giving Israel arms aid and would block any invasion. Our response was: The United States is now helping Israel, so we have no choice but to increase our military power. Moreover, the United States is now giving Israel aid via West Germany. With such a large amount of aid, Israel is now investing in foreign countries, mainly in some of Africa’s newly independent countries. Israel by this means has come to control their banks, trade, and technical force. Israel also aids them to develop agriculture, gives them weapons aid, and aids them to establish police forces. In 1960, when I saw Keita in Casablanca, I asked him why he would buy weapons from Israel. He said: We tried to buy weapons from France. They did not give them to us. Israel later expressed a desire to sell, so we agreed to buy. What we need are rifles and submachine guns to arm 5,000 men. I then said to Keita: We will send all that to you without asking for money. So, Mali after that stopped the deal with Israel. Guinea also stopped theirs the same way. Ghana’s air force now also has Israelis helping out. Uganda’s police and air force are organized by Israel. In Kenya, too, Israel’s influence is great. This is mainly due to the influence of the Jews in Kenya. Tanzania recently drove out some Jews, but there are still Jews in Tanzania’s air force, police, and consumer cooperatives. Ethiopia’s police and intelligence organs are all organized by the Israelis. The Israelis have great influence in all the francophone countries. We try to compete with them, but it is difficult. We have given aid to Guinea, Mali, Somali, and the Congo (Brazzaville). Israel also has great influence in the Congo (Leopoldville). They are now training the military of the Congo (Leopoldville). In Nigeria, Israel is giving aid to Nigeria’s Eastern Region and Western Region, but the Northern Region has rejected it.

Premier Zhou: Since Saudi Arabia's new king has come to power, is it better there?

Nasser: He is very cunning and his is a completely feudal regime. The old king was driven out by the United States, whose influence in Saudi Arabia now is great. Saudi Arabia produces 85 million tons of oil. Kuwait produces 20 million tons of oil. Bahrain has 9 million tons. Qatar has 12 million tons. Iraq has 45 million tons. Libya has 25 million tons. Algeria has 25 million tons. The UAR has 8 million tons. The Arab world’s oil production accounts for two thirds of the global total. Britain would even fight for Kuwait. The United States is now helping Tunisia. Two thirds of US foreign aid is given to six countries, of which Tunisia is one. South Vietnam is another of them. Tunisia has implemented a one-party system, relying on its middle class. Their military is not strong. They rely on their party carrying out assassinations and other terrorist activities to maintain Bourguiba’s rule. After Bourguiba’s death, I see Tunisia in chaos.

Premier Zhou: How is Libya?

Nasser: Libya’s king is influenced by the United States and Britain. There are US and British bases there. The king is completely detached from the people. He is already 74 years old. Once the king is dead, a national movement will arise. The British indicate that, if this happens, they are prepared to intervene. Recently there were explosions in a Libyan oil field. They accuse us of doing it, but the place of the explosions is hundreds of kilometers from the Mediterranean and 200 kilometers from our border.

Recently, we discovered oil in the area of the Red Sea. A US company is helping us with it. They say that its prospects are great. Oil exploration is an expensive investment, and we do not have the strength to do it alone. The oil discovered is in coastal waters at a depth of 25 kilometers. (Premier Zhou expressed that the Arab world, including the UAR, has abundant natural resources and in the future will certainly be able to overcome economic difficulties.)

Premier Zhou: We learned that the UAR government has agreed to our providing weapons to the Palestine Liberation Organization through the Port of Alexandria (nodded).

[…] [ellipse in original]