11. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

5357. UNEF. I called on SYG and Bunche this morning accompanied by Pedersen to survey present status of UNEF and to urge strongly SYG not take decision to withdraw UNEF without fullest consultation with perm members SC and with GA.

SYG said he had not yet received official request for withdrawal, although El Kony (UAR) was scheduled to see him right after I did (at which time he did present the request).

I urged SYG to consult with Fedorenko (USSR) in interest of peaceful situation in Middle East, saying I intended to do same myself. Noted today was key day. SYG indicated he understood importance of Sovs but did not make clear commitment to contact them. I told SYG we had consulted background of statements made by Hammarskjold at time of UNEF’s establishment.2 These indicated that while basic principle obviously was that UNEF was on territory with consent of UAR, there was the “good faith” agreement specifically reached with them and many other indications that response to request to withdraw need not be automatic but result in consultations. Bunche said Secretariat had been looking into matter carefully and had sent UAR two messages yesterday, one the eight page memo he had previously told us about. While he was not specific about its contents I had impression memo had covered these points but probably concluded that if UAR seriously requested withdrawal SYG would do so. Bunche said their legal examination indicated decision on withdrawal was something SYG could make and did not require any UN political action.

I also suggested SYG’s first response to request for withdrawal might be appeal to Nasser, which we had previously been told he was considering. SYG said he had this morning been “advised seriously and confidentially” not to make such appeal. (He did not say who this came from.)

I told SYG we suspected there was a great deal of face and political maneuvering in current situation and that with careful handling we might yet preserve situation and UNEF role. Canadians had told us that [Page 15] in Riad’s approach to them in Cairo he had said they were not prepared to discuss principle of withdrawal but were prepared to discuss modalities. Perhaps this was something that could be worked on. Perhaps an appeal from him or a request by him for SC meeting under Article 99 would provide means to restore situation.

SYG said he would make report to GA and to SC but he was resist-ant to idea of using Article 99. Bunche also expressed view UAR was quite serious, noting he had just received report from Rikhye that UAR troops in Sinai had gone right up to borderline, so that now they were directly opposite Israeli battalions.

Bunche also emphasized practical difficulty of supplying and maintaining force if UAR wanted to harass it and said that in any case most countries supplying contingents would withdraw them immediately if UAR so demanded.

In concluding session I again urged that SYG not take responsibility upon himself. I noted this was matter of great political consequence and I urged he consult widely with members, especially perm members of SC and defer any commitment in response to UAR request until he had done so.

SYG said I should know that Syrians had alleged to him there was wide-spread conspiracy to attack Syria involving Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel and in which US and UK were implicated. I told him categorically this was not true and that US policy continued be opposed to use of force and violence in Middle East and to favor maintenance of peace and security in area. Told him we had conveyed these views to all govts in area, including Israel. Read him some of the things we had said. Told him charges were ridiculous and pointed to statement I had ready and intended to use with press after meeting, in which I denied it.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–4 PAL/UN. Confidential. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Moscow, London, and Paris. Received on May 18 at 10:43 p.m.
  2. See Document 6.
  3. Telegram 5360 from USUN, May 19, conveyed the text of the statement. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ARAB–ISR)