The Terrific Headache
Some time after his return to the United States, Hopkins wrote the following memorandum:
The last night before the Yalta conference broke up the President flabbergasted Churchill by telling him for the first time that he was going to fly to Egypt and had arranged for the King of Egypt, Ibn Saud and Hailie Selassie to hold conferences with him aboard the cruiser in Great Bitter Lake on three successive days. There were a number of people present when the President told Churchill about this and Churchill had no adequate opportunity to ask the President what these visits were all about. Later that night he, Churchill, sought me out, greatly disturbed and wanted to know what were the President's intentions in relation to these three sovereigns. Fortunately I could tell him I did not know because I had asked the President the same thing. I had already made up my mind that it was, in the main, a lot of horseplay and that the President was going to thoroughly enjoy the colorful panoply of the sovereigns of this part of the world who thought that President Roosevelt of the United States could probably cure all their troubles. I did know he intended to talk to Ibn Saud about the Palestine situation. Nothing I said, however, was comforting to Churchill because he thought we had some deep laid plot to undermine the British Empire in these areas.
The next day the Prime Minister told the President that he was also going into Egypt after a brief visit to Greece and see each of these sovereigns himself, and had already sent the messages asking them to remain in Egypt for conferences with him immediately after the President had left.
The public aspects of these conferences have been widely written about and I, therefore, do not intend to repeat those here. The only really important thing was the discussion the President had with Ibn Saud about Palestine and this was short and to the point.