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

Before we sat down to dinner tonight Gromyko and I drew aside for a few minutes of private talk about the Middle East. I asked him what the Central Committee meant by accusing the US of being in a plot with Israel. He said they found it very hard to believe the US did not have advance information about the beginning of hostilities and we could have made more of an effort to stop them. I told him categorically that this was not the truth, that we had what we considered to be commitments from both sides that hostilities would not begin, that we had no advance information about the fighting and that our first message to the Chairman expressing our astonishment and dismay represented the exact truth.2 I told him that Israel was not a satellite of the United States and that I assumed that Egypt was not a satellite of Moscow; otherwise Moscow would bear a heavy responsibility for such acts of folly as the closing of the Strait of Tiran and the whipping up of a holy war psychology against Israel.

We then turned to the immediate problem before the Assembly and it is clear that the central issue will be the relation between the withdrawal of troops and other elements in a general settlement. Gromyko reaffirmed the commitment of the USSR to the existence of Israel as a state and recalled that both they and we had voted for the creation of Israel twenty years ago. He seemed to show flexibility on international maritime rights although he commented perhaps these matters should be dealt with in special arrangements similar to the Montreux Convention on the Bosporus. For lack of time we did not get into other elements of a permanent solution, but it is quite clear that they will press for the priority of withdrawal over against the settlement of other issues. I drew the distinction between procedure and substance and said that I thought if there could be broad agreement on substance, modalities could be found to deal with questions of procedure. I also told him I did not think that Israel had any particular interest in trying to retain Egyptian or Syrian territory. (This was based on an earlier conversation I had had with Eban.)

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I talked to him briefly about non-proliferation which we continued at dinner and got the impression that they were reasonably satisfied with the draft text worked out in Geneva which omits article three. He emphasized the importance of controls and said there should be an international system which did not discriminate in favor of members of a particular NATO family. I told him this was not an issue of principle between the USSR and the US but that the obstacle was his friend General De Gaulle. I asked him if Kosygin had discussed NPT with De Gaulle and was told the subject had not come up. He seemed to be more optimistic about the Indian attitude than we.

In a later private exchange Gromyko indicated he would probably stay on for about a week following the departure of Kosygin. This probably means that he will stay around to do his best to get their kind of resolution from the General Assembly. I definitely got the impression that they were prepared to drop the condemnation feature if a simple unadorned demand for withdrawal could get the necessary number of votes.

Remainder of conversation being reported septel.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 2:18 a.m. A typed and slightly paraphrased version was sent to the President by Arthur McCafferty at 7:15 a.m. 5841/Secto 9. Eyes Only for President and Acting Secretary.
  2. Document 157.
  3. Telegram 5848 from USUN, June 22, reported Rusk’s dinner conversation with Gromyko. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, ORG 7 S)