446. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Middle East


  • UK Side
  • Foreign Secretary George Brown
  • Lord Caradon, UK Permanent Representative to the UN
  • Sir Patrick Dean, British Ambassador
  • P.T. Hayman, Assistant Under Secretary, Foreign Office
  • Sir Harold Beeley, Deputy Leader UK Disarmament Delegation, Geneva
  • Donald Murray, Counselor, Foreign Office
  • T.F. Brenchley, Foreign Office
  • D.J.D. Maitland, Principal Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary
  • US Side
  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Arthur Goldberg
  • Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson
  • Lucius D. Battle, Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • Joseph J. Sisco, Assistant Secretary, IO
  • J. Harold Shullaw, Country Director, BMI

Foreign Secretary Brown said that he got the impression from talking with Gromyko last week that the Soviet Government wants to see some movement on a Middle East settlement but does not want to get out in front. Ambassador Thompson said the Soviet interest in the Suez Canal was substantial, that approximately 1400 Soviet ships used it in a year. Foreign Secretary Brown, in response to a question from Assistant Secretary Battle, said that the resumption of oil shipments following the [Page 845] Khartoum Conference would not have much effect on the British balance of payments. The Canal closure is costing about £ 200 million per annum in foreign exchange. The Foreign Secretary emphasized the importance of some progress on the Canal question by at least securing the opening of the southern end to release the trapped ships. This action, he said, would not necessarily involve the question of Israeli access to the Canal and for that reason should be easier.

The Foreign Secretary said that he had been impressed by the Yugoslav Foreign Minister who appeared to have some authority and to be willing to consider amending the original Tito proposals on a Middle East settlement. The Yugoslav Foreign Minister had pointedly remarked that Tito’s proposals had been formulated before the Khartoum Conference. Foreign Secretary Brown thought it might be possible to amend the Yugoslav proposals in the direction of the balanced formulation of the earlier Goldberg-Dobrynin draft.

Sir Harold Beeley said that a solution in the Middle East had to be based on both Israeli withdrawal and acceptance by the Arabs of Israel and an end to belligerency. The Foreign Secretary strongly supported the idea of a UN representative going out to the area to assist in finding solutions. He emphasized that this representative should not be referred to as a mediator. Sir Harold Beeley said the Soviets would not accept the appointment of a UN representative unless the appointment of such a representative were coupled with specific proposals for a Middle East settlement. Lord Caradon agreed with this view.

The Foreign Secretary asked Mr. Battle how he read the situation in the UAR. Mr. Battle replied that he thought Nasser’s days were numbered, perhaps six months to a year. Economic problems facing the UAR are tremendous. Foreign Secretary Brown said the question was who would succeed Nasser. A moderate regime might wish to turn to the West in an effort to obtain help in bailing itself out of its economic difficulties. On the other hand if a Leftist regime were to succeed Nasser it might be followed by a Soviet decision to increase arms supplies to the UAR. Foreign Secretary Brown said there is a danger that the Arabs may have learned the value of a preemptive air strike from Israeli actions in the June war.

The Foreign Secretary said that he realized the importance before proceeding in the UN of being certain there was enough agreement on the terms of a solution with the Soviets so that they did not torpedo it. He said, however, that he did not believe we had to be assured in advance of agreement on exact details of a settlement. Mr. Sisco pointed out that the Arab emphasis is still on withdrawal in the first instance and that the Khartoum Conference had rejected recognition of Israel and an end to belligerency.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by United Kingdom Country Director J. Harold Shullaw, and approved in S on October 3. The memorandum is part 3 of 3. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, where Rusk was attending the 22nd Session of the UN General Assembly.