400. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

14613. Subject: Middle East Bilateral Talks with Soviets. For Ambassador Thompson.

We have sent you separately Memcon between Secretary, Kohler and Dobrynin containing Gromyko oral message to the Secretary,2 and Memcon containing oral message which Kohler handed to Dobrynin on July 27,3 for him to take back with him to Moscow.
You will note Soviets have in effect suggested continuation of bilateral talks which took place in New York and have indicated desire to “find formulas—fully acceptable to both sides—of the recommendations of the General Assembly which has not completed its work yet.” In our reply we have indicated willingness to participate in further consultation on a number of Middle Eastern problems. It seems apparent from language quoted above and Dobrynin’s inquiry of Kohler regarding further SC action that Soviets are probing to determine whether there is any give in language of resolution agreed to by the US and USSR in closing days of UNGA. We wish to avoid renegotiating that resolution since it is hard to see how its language could be changed without risk of unraveling all that has been accomplished by our firm stand at UNGA.
Subject to foregoing, we see every advantage in pursuing broad consultations with the Soviets on Middle East problems both from the standpoint of trying to work out a peaceful settlement and from the standpoint of bilateral relations. Present situation in Middle East is so disturbing and ceasefire so precarious that it is desirable to carry forward exploration of possible approaches to peace settlement with Soviets and others. At the same time, in the short term, there are certain procedural difficulties in the way of progress through UN organs, particularly on basis Soviets desire.
Following points will help to give you additional flavor of our thinking:
You will note that we have invited Soviet views as to when and how discussion should be pursued. Discussion of modalities would [Page 742] gain us a little time which would be useful from procedural standpoint in New York. Situation there indicates that barring unforeseen developments a Security Council meeting is unlikely much before middle August, if by then.
You will note that while Sovs suggest discussions which in effect would carry on those we held in the final stages of the emergency General Assembly, our response is pitched in much more general terms. Sovs have obvious interest in trying to whittle away at agreement they reached with us on terms of GA Res on troop withdrawal and belligerency. We have very strong interest in not going beyond terms of agreed Soviet-American draft, which is rock-bottom formula from our standpoint. We do not contemplate any compromise of fundamental linkage between troop withdrawal and end of belligerency.
Correspondingly, we would resist any Soviet effort to resume the emergency GA session, even though we recognize that door for resumption was left open in final procedural resolution which led to “temporary adjournment” of session. Further discussion of ME problem in GA all too likely to lead to erosion of strength we helped to mobilize against Soviet and non-aligned proposals which represented Arab views.
Our reply indicates that we have a special interest in subject of arms limitation in ME. We would be encouraged by any sign that Soviets willing to exercise restraint in arms supply.
We will also want to impress on Soviets need for them to exert their influence on Arab extremists against any resumption of hostilities and in favor of serious consideration of reasonable settlements. Ending claims of belligerency should enable all parties with interest in Middle East to establish normal political relationships and resume normal economic activities, including free maritime passage in international waterways.
One procedural proposal we would regard as useful to permit further cooling off in area and to explore prospects for agreement, would be appointment of a mediator under UN auspices to explore possibilities with parties directly concerned. We tried unsuccessfully to float such an idea during emergency GA, but Arabs would only accept it if mediator’s terms of reference were focused on troop withdrawals. We would be interested in anything you might pick up with respect to Soviet attitude regarding a mediator.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Sisco and Popper on July 31; cleared in draft by Stoessel (EUR), Kohler, and Battle; and approved by Eugene Rostow. Repeated to USUN.
  2. Document 389.
  3. Document 392.