Onlookers and supporters at a train station as Presidents Nixon and Sadat ride toward Alexandria on June 13, 1974.
On June 13, President Nixon and President Sadat answered questions from the press on an open railway carriage traveling from Cairo to Alexandria. While making their way toward Alexandria, as many as six million people greeted and cheered them as they passed. It was clear that in the premier Arab country, Richard Nixon was welcomed as a peacemaker and that the people of Egypt wanted, more than anything, a framework for peace.
Asked how he felt about his tour of Egypt so far, President Nixon expressed awe over the crowds who had come out to support Egypt’s friendship with America.
And the other thing that, of course, is impressive is the fact that these crowds show a very deep feeling of affection and friendship for America. The fact that this could exist despite almost 25 years of misunderstanding, and off-and-on relationship, in the last 7 years very bitter misunderstanding, the fact that this gracious relationship still exists here in Egypt shows that Egyptian-American friendship is a natural reaction among Egyptians, and I am sure it is among Americans, and therefore, we are building on a foundation that will last because it is built on natural and not unnatural interests.
President Sadat was asked what the principle contribution from the United States to Egypt and the Middle East would be when peace in the region was at their fingertips. His answer:
It is to keep the momentum of the whole thing going on, and I must say, you have read what my people wrote. They wrote, “We Trust Nixon.” Since the 6th of October and since the change that took place in the American policy, peace is now available in the area. And President Nixon never gave a word and didn’t fulfill it; he has fulfilled every word he gave. So if this momentum continues, I think we can achieve peace.
Responding to Sadat’s praise, President Nixon commended Sadat’s efforts over the past few months in attaining peaceful resolutions in a conflict-ridden region:
I would only add to what President Sadat has said, that he recognizes-as a mature leader of this part of the world–he recognizes and feels very deeply about the goals he wants to achieve, and therefore, nobody can condemn him as being one who is not dedicated to the goals that people in the surrounding nations want to achieve.
President Nixon and President Sadat, pursuers of peace.
This week marks 40 years since President Nixon’s trip to the Middle East in June of 1974. President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger worked together with President Sadat to push Soviet influence out of the Middle East, thrusting the United States into the leadership role as mediator of peace. Egypt was the first country President Nixon visited on this journey, and the first in the Middle East to instigate a shift in Arab-Israeli peace talks.