322. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Middle East Crisis


  • Eugene V. Rostow, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • J. Harold Shullaw, Country Director for BMI
  • Robert T. Grey, Staff Assistant, M
  • Sir Patrick Dean, British Ambassador
  • Alan B. Urwick, First Secretary, British Embassy

The Under Secretary said that he had a feeling the best chance for a Middle East settlement is in the next few weeks. This is a case where time isn’t necessarily working in favor of a settlement.

The Under Secretary said that there are several recent developments which we find encouraging. The Turkish Foreign Minister told Secretary Rusk in New York that he had been approached by a number of Arabs who displayed a conciliatory mood and a willingness to move in a positive direction. Also encouraging is the moderate position being taken by Israel. The Israeli objective is peace and their territorial claims are minimal, much less than we would have anticipated. For example, they are interested in demilitarization along the Syrian border rather than occupation. The Under Secretary said that we have also had various reports that the Palestinian Arabs are willing to consider living with the Jews on the basis of an autonomous status within Israel. If the Palestinians and King Hussein can work out a solution on their own it would convert the refugee problem into an economic development matter. This would also make the problem of Jerusalem easier.

Mr. Urwick said that the UK Government has received similar reports on current attitudes among the Palestinian Arabs. He indicated some doubt whether King Hussein could afford to get out in front on this question. The Under Secretary referred to King Hussein’s forthcoming visit to the US and said that the President would see him if the timing could be worked out.

The Under Secretary said that we do not know what the real status of Nasser is at the present time, whether he is in or out. Certainly Soviet efforts are being strongly directed toward saving him. We have an interesting [Page 563] report that the UAR is buying for cash $10 million of wheat in the US. The Under Secretary added that we are interposing no obstacles to the transaction.

In reply to the Under Secretary’s question the Ambassador said Kosygin had taken a very tough line in his talk yesterday in New York with Foreign Secretary Brown. In effect, Kosygin had demanded an Israeli withdrawal from Arab territory before there could be a discussion of anything else. Sir Patrick said that his Embassy was supplying the Department with a copy of the Foreign Secretary’s report on the conversation with Kosygin (copy attached).2

The Ambassador expressed the opinion that it should be possible for the US and the UK to get together on a suitable resolution in the GA. Sir Patrick said that an effort should be made with the African states to encourage them to adopt a more constructive attitude, particularly in view of the possible effect on French speaking African states of General De Gaulle’s denunciation of Israel.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret. The memorandum is part 1 of 4. Drafted by Shullaw and approved in M June 28. The meeting was held in Rostow’s office.
  2. Attached but not printed.