539. Letter From Premier Kosygin to President Johnson1

Dear Mr. President:

We have received your letter of 19 November and have studied it attentively. I wish to remind you that in your preceding letter of 23 October it was stated in the name of the Government of the United States of America that the position of the United States on the Middle [Page 1059] East had not undergone change in comparison with that which had been set forth at the end of the extraordinary session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

If your last reply does not mean a change in your position to the detriment of the victims of aggression—the Arab States—then evidently it is necessary to reach a mutual understanding, above all on two questions:

The immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territories of the Arab States seized by them, that is, to the lines which they occupied before 5 June of this year should be in fact ensured.
Israel should not make territorial claims on the other side and exploit the situation which has developed as the result of the war unleashed by them in order to take possession of foreign territories and change for its own benefit boundaries which actually existed before the conflict. Without resolution of these problems there can be no permanent peace in the region of the Middle East in which both our countries should be interested.

It is understood that together with this there should be decided the question of immediate recognition of the rights of all states of this region to independent national existence in conditions of peace and security.

In the presence of such understanding we would not oppose the acceptance of the British Draft if, of course, it is acceptable to the Arabs. We would like to receive from you an urgent reply.


A. Kosygin
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence File, USSR, Kosygin Correspondence, Vol. I. No classification marking. The letter is a translation. Dobrynin gave the letter to Kohler at 2:15 p.m. on November 21 and told Kohler that if the U.S. side could reply that day, the Soviet Government could get instructions to Kuznetsov in New York before the next day’s session of the Security Council. Kohler referred to the Arab acceptance of the British resolution and “wondered why the Soviets were trying to be more Arab than the Arabs themselves.” Dobrynin said he was sure that if the Arabs really did accept the British resolution the Soviets would not vote against it. Rostow sent the letter and Kohler’s memorandum of his conversation with Dobrynin to the President on November 21 at 3:55 p.m. (Both ibid.)