291. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Middle East


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Battle, Assistant Secretary for NEA
  • Thomas M. Judd, UK Desk Officer
  • Sir Patrick Dean, British Ambassador

Ambassador Dean said he would like to have an exchange of views on the Middle East situation. Stressing that he was speaking without instructions, he expressed serious concern regarding developments. He noted that Britain was short of tankers and badly needed to get oil from Libya. He thought Kosygin was up to no good in coming to New York. The Soviets were trying to make matters more difficult for the Western position in the area.

The Secretary said we had received confirmation that Kosygin, Gromyko and the other Soviet leaders were coming to New York. We had a press report to the effect that De Gaulle would be willing to go to New York to attend a summit meeting and another from London saying Wilson was willing to come if Kosygin was also coming. During the recent NATO Ministerial Meeting, the Secretary said, all the discussion was to the effect that NATO members should not provide any of the 62 votes necessary to call a special session of the General Assembly. This position had dissolved when the rumor spread that Kosygin was coming. Many think it would be wonderful if the President and Kosygin could sit down to talk things out. They had forgotten that at the last such meeting we were presented with an ultimatum on Berlin.

Ambassador Dean inquired concerning the Secretary’s views as to what could be done to bring about a settlement in the Middle East. The Secretary replied that we were not trying to draw up a clear blueprint. We wished to keep our position flexible in case the countries in the area could come up with any answers themselves. A solution would have to provide for:

recognition of the existence of the state of Israel;
doing away with the “rights of belligerency”;
some settlement on the waterways;
progress on refugees; and
progress on arms limitation.

There remained the problem of the old city of Jerusalem. This was going to be tough.

Ambassador Dean asked what type of negotiations we favored. Ambassador Battle replied that our interests would be better served by individual rather than collective negotiations. These would be difficult to arrange. A mediator was needed to go around to the various countries. The Secretary noted that Israel had said it would not accept a mediator.

The Secretary asked if Ambassador Dean had seen a report that the French had said they would not recognize any territorial changes not agreed to by all parties concerned. Ambassador Dean replied that he had not and asked what the French were up to. Ambassador Battle said they seemed to be making a clear effort to play both sides.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Confidential. Drafted by Judd and approved in S on June 27. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.