259. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

5683. Mid-East.

Shortly before Fedorenko (USSR) speech in SC today announcing Sov break in diplomatic relations with Israel and threat of sanctions, Shevchenko (USSR) came over to Pedersen in Council. Said it was by that time obvious to any fair-minded person that Israelis were continuing the conflict in Syria in spite of SC reses and that US must take vigorous measures to stop them. Said that if fighting did not stop situation could go even beyond sanctions into military measures with dangers of Sov-American confrontation undesired by either. Fedorenko then started to speak and conversation broke off.

Fol Fedorenko speech Pedersen showed Shevchenko draft res US had prepared condemning any violations of ceasefire and calling for unequivocal instructions to be sent to military commanders to stop immediately. Told Shevchenko we had approached Israelis vigorously last night and again this morning and that he should have no illusions US policy was determined to bring about immediate ceasefire. Shevchenko looked at res and said it should call on Israel to stop firing. Pedersen replied that Sovs would have to choose between their objectives. One was to bring about an immediate ceasefire. We were prepared to do this and even to propose res to this effect. Another was to point political blame at Israel by naming it specifically. This US was not prepared to do in situation where both sides were still fighting. Pedersen said that in any case Israelis had continued to assure us they were fully committed to a ceasefire, that they had not taken Quentera and were not advancing on Damascus. Key conversation to implement ceasefire was taking place between Gen Bull and Gen Dayan and this was in fact more significant than anything SC might now do. Shevchenko said that if we were not prepared to point res clearly at Israel best thing would be not to have res in SC at all but simply to adjourn subject to call with understanding SYG would continue his efforts to implement the ceasefire. In that case he said US should exert prompt pressures on Israel through diplomatic channels. Pedersen said we were already doing so.

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Subsequently, shortly before end of meeting, Shevchenko approached Pedersen again to discuss exact manner of terminating meeting. In this conversation he reiterated importance of immediate ceasefire. This time he said that issue was critical because while we had our commitments in area USSR also had theirs; if Damascus were taken by Israelis USSR would have to respond. (Impression was a response of some sort of military aid to Syria.),

Pedersen said we regretted that the one day’s cooperation between two dels in NY when we first achieved ceasefire res Tuesday had quickly evaporated. Noted it seemed to be easier to consult with USSR in Moscow and Wash than in NY and this made matters difficult. Hoped there might be renewal of cooperation as we approached difficult task of achieving new settlement in ME. Shevchenko said Sov reversion Wednesday to urgent call for SC meeting and deposit of res without consultation with US had been based on rigid instructions from Moscow that they must call “immediate” meeting, coupled with Moscow report that USG had been informed.

Said that as we moved into next phase USSR would stress withdrawal and that it would be difficult to cooperate closely in NY while Israeli forces remained on Arab territory. Pedersen said it might be understandable we would have public differences on this issue but that should not prevent exchange of views privately. Noted simple withdrawal was simply not realistic policy in present circumstances and more fundamental issues needed to be dealt with. Commented, for example, that if USSR had expressed itself in favor of freedom of navigation in straits at outset this conflict would probably never have come about. Shevchenko replied there was not much to be gained from going back to what might have been done before. Also said Sov del recognized some other elements might have to be looked at in connection with withdrawal, but said US res had too many.

In separate conversation Fochine (Sov national in Secretariat) also expressed concern about danger of Sov-American confrontation in ME. Said he regarded situation as more dangerous than Cuban missiles crisis because we could both be drawn into situation by people over whose activities we did not have full control. Referred to the sanctions, with use of term blockade. Also referred to possibility military flights over Turkey and Iran by way of discounting them but said Sov military measures were not excluded.

On settlement of crisis Fochine said he thought there would have to be improvement of UN observation machinery in the area. Said he had been studying this in Secretariat. When Pedersen said this was sort of thing US had always supported but we wondered whether Moscow would favor such move, Fochine said he thought they would.

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Comment: Most significant aspect of above conversations seemed to be Shevchenko’s second conversation focusing on Sov concern re Israeli capture of Damascus. Shevchenko’s manner was one of concern to end the conflict and avoid a Sov-American confrontation rather than one of pressure or threat. It was in utterly marked contrast to Fedorenko’s nasty demeanor against US in SC and of Fedorenko’s refusal to talk to Goldberg during morning on grounds he could not leave Sov seat in Council.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. Repeated Priority to Moscow and Tel Aviv. Received at 3:41 p.m. Passed to the White House, DOD, CIA, USIA, NSA, COMAC, and CINCSTRIKE at 6:17 p.m.