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Egyptian Marketing


The hot desert winds filtered through the dunes and around the ancient antiquities of Egypt. It drifted down past the Great Pyramid, winding around the Tombs of the Pharaohs, past the Sphinx and Governor Arthur A. Link before it swayed the fig trees on the banks of the Nile. Actually, on this day in 1976, unlike the Sphinx, Governor Link had been a recent arrival to Egypt with the North Dakota Industrial Commission, including Attorney General Allen I. Olson and also Dick Crockett of the Greater North Dakota Association. Like similar efforts today, the main purpose of the trip was to promote North Dakota products and create new markets in developing countries.

The host for the Egyptian part of the mission was Gov. Ahmed El-Aker of the province of Giza and the highlight of the trip was the meeting of the North Dakota delegation with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The previous decade in Egypt had been a turbulent one with the country entering into a Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union in 1971, a result of the United States support of Israel beginning with the Six Day War in 1967. President Sadat had made a speech ending this treaty. As Allen Olson later recalled, "We actually had an appointment with the Ambassador that had to be delayed maybe forty-five minutes because he was with Sadat...The ambassador had been called in so Sadat could tell him he just booted the Soviets out of Egypt and it was an interesting time." Sadat told the North Dakota delegation that the Middle East "wants and needs peace."

They discussed the International Peace Garden in North Dakota and how it is located at the center of the longest unfortified border in the world.

President Sadat was extremely interested in improving agricultural techniques and also in dairy facilities and cattle to which Gov Link replied that the State of North Dakota had the people and livestock to help establish a dairy project. Link also noted that North Dakota farmers could supply milk products and that the North Dakota high-protein wheat and other grains could assist in improving the diets of the Egyptian people.

They also discussed an exchange of students and teachers from high schools and universities and Link assured him that Americans believed in helping countries help themselves and not just in sending foreign aid.

After a VIP tour of the area around Cairo, it was time to depart. It was on this date that the delegation continued on the second leg of their journey to Jordan leaving the Sphinx with its untiring vigil in the hot desert winds.

By Jim Davis


Governor Allen I. Olson Oral History July 6, 2006

The Bismarck Tribune March 20, 1976