426. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts1

26123. 1. Following message should be conveyed to your Foreign Minister before his departure for Khartoum.2 At your discretion you may leave with him aide-mémoire embodying these points.

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2. We have welcomed opportunities to exchange thoughts with you on how to bring about a just and durable peace in the Near East. The views as conveyed by our ambassadors have contributed greatly to the evolution of our own thinking. As Secretary Rusk’s letter to you last month3 made clear, the United States is willing to support any reasonable proposal that will lead to a peaceful solution consistent with the five general principles set forth by President Johnson in his statement of June 19.

3. We believe there has been an improvement in the general atmosphere insofar as a disposition is concerned to work realistically toward a resolution of the crisis. Your statesmanship at the last Khartoum Conference, and at subsequent meetings, has helped materially to bring about this change in atmosphere. We fully appreciate the difficulties of maintaining a moderate and responsible course in present circumstances. For this reason, it has been encouraging to see a greater willingness on the part of the moderate Arab states to assert leadership in Arab councils. If this momentum can be maintained at the forthcoming Foreign Ministers’ and Chiefs of State conferences at Khartoum, I feel sure the road to peace will be appreciably shortened.

4. We have as yet had no report of his conversations.4

5. In our view the coming meetings at Khartoum will be critical in determining whether movement toward a settlement can be achieved. As time goes by it will become more difficult to bring about those changes that will be necessary to reach a mutual accommodation. If matters are allowed merely to drift, they might well drift toward a consolidation of the present unsatisfactory and insecure status quo. I know your government does not see this to be in its interests.

6. We do not underestimate the difficulties of finding a way out of the present impasse, but we do believe there are a number of ways, fully ensuring Arab rights and interests, in which the movement toward peace could be started. One step could be for all the states of the area to accept positions expressed in the Draft Resolution upon which the [Page 803] United States and the Soviet Union reached agreement during the final days of the General Assembly. Another might be for the Arab states to assert, on their own initiative, a policy of non-belligerence and acceptance of agreed international boundaries in the area. I am impressed by the reasoning of some Arab statesmen that an end of belligerence would in no way mean a surrender of Arab principles.

7. Two concepts all too prevalent in Arab thinking should be corrected. The first is that the United States can determine Israeli actions or the actions of any other Near Eastern state. The second is that oil can be cut off without permanent damage to the Arab states. While there can be no denying that the consuming state would be hurt by a total boycott, there are alternate sources which would be developed rapidly if necessary, and once the Arab countries decided to resume production the consumers would continue looking to their new sources as more reliable and more secure. As for the Suez Canal, the new supertankers now under construction can transport oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe via the Cape for considerably less than Suez tolls.

8. As you know, the United States has been reluctant to advance specific formulas concerning a settlement to the present crisis believing that these will be most effective if they stem from the states directly concerned. That is why we are hopeful that at the Khartoum meetings the full range of possibilities can be explored in a constructive atmosphere. We are confident a start can be made if a sufficient number of states determine not to be deterred from this purpose. It may be a long time before all the issues which lie at the heart of the Arab-Israel problem can be fully and justly resolved. In the meantime there is no reason for the Arab states to place unnatural obstacles in the path of their own progress and growth. The vital tasks of social and political development, the exploration for mutually advantageous cooperative arrangements among the Arab states, and above all economic development must proceed. None of these tasks can be effectively pursued under the present unstable conditions in which even Arab states far from Israel’s borders are exposed to the constant danger of being drawn into crises over which they have little control. It is obvious, we believe, that the creation of peaceful and stable conditions is very much in the interest of the Arab states themselves.

9. We value greatly our continuing exchange of views on these all-important matters. We hope it will be possible to meet with you at an early date after your return as we will be most interested in your views on the results of the Khartoum meetings. (End of Message.)5

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10. In delivering the above message, please stress that our purpose is to exchange views and if possible to concert our diplomatic influence in the days and weeks ahead. Follow up the first talks as far as you can with respect to the themes in the letter, and in other recent policy telegrams. We should like to elicit the views of the government to which you are accredited on the Soviet-American resolution. From here, that document seems the simplest and most promising starting point, both in the area (Suez Canal) and in the United Nations.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 SUDAN. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Eugene Rostow, Sterner, Davies, and James E. Akins of the Office of Fuels and Energy and approved by Eugene Rostow. Sent to Amman, Beirut, Jidda, and Kuwait and repeated to Cairo, USUN, London, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem.
  2. Foreign Ministers of 13 Arab states met in Khartoum August 27–28 in preparation for a summit conference of the leaders of those states in Khartoum August 29–September 1.
  3. Document 397.
  4. The majority of paragraph 4 was crossed out on the telegram. Circular telegram 26320, August 24, transmitted a revised paragraph 4 that reads: “Shortly before President Tito left on his recent trip to several Arab states we took the opportunity to have a full exchange of views with him on Near East problems. President Tito informed us of his view that the political settlement of the crisis must be fair to the Arab States. He also told us that he believed the General Assembly proved that most countries of the world now agreed that Israel’s right to exist had to be accepted. We told him that we agreed entirely with both of these views. We stressed that in approaching the problem of a settlement, the United States would take fully and sympathetically into account the rights and interests of the Arab States, as well as those of Israel and of other nations with interests in the Near East and North Africa. We have as yet had no report of his conversations.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 SUDAN)
  5. Telegram 26856 to Tunis, Tripoli, and Rabat, August 25, transmitted identical messages to the Tunisian, Libyan, and Moroccan Foreign Ministers. (Ibid.)