448. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Middle East
- Adan M. Pachachi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq
- Lucius D. Battle, Asst. Secretary of State for NEA
I received Mr. Pachachi on September 25 in my room at the Waldorf. He remained for approximately one hour and twenty minutes. The meeting grew out of Mr. Pachachi’s conversations with former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Anderson.
After a brief exchange of pleasantries, Mr. Pachachi launched vigorously into a discussion of the Middle East. He said that the current [Page 849] session of the United Nations must not let an opportunity go by to solve the Middle East problem. Action through either the General Assembly or the Security Council during this session was imperative. The Arabs had accepted a moderate course at the Khartoum meeting and this must be built upon and as soon as possible or moderate leadership would give way to more radical influences. The United States had been very general in its pronouncements and it is imperative that we define carefully and precisely what we mean by the principles we have enunciated. The Israelis, in Mr. Pachachi’s opinion, want no action at the present session and he feared the United States was supporting them in this course. Moreover, he detected in Ambassador Goldberg’s statements an erosion of the US position which he found alarming.
I replied that the Middle East presented problems for the world and that a dangerous situation continued to exist there. Clearly we hoped for as early a solution as possible and we felt that the United Nations General Assembly offered one opportunity to come to grips with difficult problems. However, many levels of conversation and discussion were necessary and every forum should be utilized to the fullest extent. While speed of solution was important, it was equally imperative that we have a just and lasting solution as the world could not afford to risk a war every ten years or so.
I said that the United States position had been stated in the President’s speech of June 19 and that there had been no change in our position. We still sought a lasting and just peace and to us an obvious starting point was for both sides to agree that the war was over and the state of belligerency ended.
We had refrained from defining what we would find acceptable in terms of a solution. What was acceptable to us was a solution the parties themselves could agree upon. We had no magic formula and had offered no overall plan. The general principles we had stated remained our position and we were reluctant to attempt to define a solution the parties themselves might reject. In this connection I pointed out that contrary to some opinion we had neither the right nor the power to dictate a solution.
Mr. Pachachi then spoke at great length on the need for the United States to define its views either privately or publicly. Private discussions should come first and reflect what the parties would agree to which could then be stated publicly.
I asked Mr. Pachachi whether a UN Representative could usefully, by exploring the issues in detail with the parties, give a sense of direction which might lead to peace. Mr. Pachachi said that a mediator was impossible unless the outlines of peace had already been [Page 850] agreed to in a UN context. To send a mediator first put the Arabs in a position of negotiating with Israeli troops on their soil. This was an impossible situation and the Arabs could not be expected to negotiate while occupied by foreign troops.
We returned to the possibility of finding a formula to end the state of belligerency. I told Mr. Pachachi that it was difficult indeed for us to encourage the Israelis or anyone else to believe the Arabs wanted a political settlement when statements continued to emanate from Arab countries indicating the war would go on.
I tried to draw Mr. Pachachi out on specific issues such as the Suez Canal, the Straits of Tiran, and refugees without much success. He returned each time to the need for the United States to say what it wished to see happen after which there could be discussion leading to General Assembly or Security Council action. He reaffirmed Arab unwillingness to negotiate directly or to recognize Israel.
Mr. Pachachi urged that the United States keep in touch with the Arabs and do all possible to prevent increasingly hostile attitudes from developing in the Arab world toward the United States. I told him that we were willing always to talk. Ambassador Goldberg with whom he had had a friendly relationship for some time was always willing to see him, Ambassador Meyer would be here for several weeks, and I was available in Washington and occasionally in New York if conversations with me would be helpful. Mr. Pachachi said he would try to see Ambassador Goldberg and also keep in touch with Ambassador Meyer.
I found very little latitude in Mr. Pachachi’s discourse. None of the moderation evident in his talks with Mr. Anderson was repeated to me. He adamantly insisted that it was up to the United States to do something but gave little evidence of desire on the part of the Arabs to do anything except continue a dialogue. The conversation was friendly although fairly firm on both sides.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Battle on September 26. Copies were sent to Walt Rostow, Sisco, Goldberg, Eugene Rostow, and Davies.↩