540. Letter From President Johnson to Premier Kosygin1

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Thank you very much for your prompt reply to my letter of November 19. I, too, am responding promptly since the Security Council is scheduled to meet tomorrow afternoon to vote on the United Kingdom draft resolution. It is imperative in the interests of early progress toward peace that a constructive result be achieved at that meeting.

The United States position on the Middle East has been consistent throughout. I explained our policy directly to you at Glassboro and I subsequently set it forth publicly in my statement of June 19. This statement continues to be the policy of the U.S.

Ambassador Goldberg set forth yesterday in the Security Council the United States position on the United Kingdom resolution.2 This resolution deals, in a balanced way, with essential ingredients for a just and lasting peace in the area, including withdrawal of Israeli armed forces. We consider the United Kingdom draft to be consistent with my statement of June 19 and will vote for it.

Moreover, we have been informed that the key Arab States principally concerned and Israel are willing to receive a United Nations representative on the basis of the United Kingdom draft. I am sure you will agree, Mr. Chairman, that the special representative is entitled not only to cooperation from the parties but to the full support of all the members of the Security Council, permanent and elected, as he undertakes his arduous and difficult peacemaking tasks. We are prepared to extend our diplomatic and political support to the efforts of the United Nations representative under the United Kingdom resolution to achieve a fair [Page 1061] and equitable settlement so that all in the area can live in peace, security, and tranquility. I hope that your government will be prepared to do the same.

I am sure that we should not try to negotiate the details of a Middle East settlement in the corridors and meeting halls of the United Nations.3 What we urgently need is a well-balanced resolution that would permit a United Nations representative to go to the area, listen to those directly concerned, reason with them, and find on the spot fair and equitable agreements with which these nations can live in peace and dignity.

It is my considered view that we must not let pass this opportunity to initiate the peacemaking process. I therefore express the hope that you can join the broad consensus of the Security Council by voting for the United Kingdom resolution tomorrow.


Lyndon B. Johnson4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence File, USSR, Kosygin Correspondence, Vol. I. No classification marking. Walt Rostow sent a draft letter to the President at 5:10 p.m. with a covering memorandum that referred to it as Rusk’s draft reply, noted that the basic draft was Goldberg’s, and added that Goldberg was “fully aboard.” The draft is virtually identical to the letter as sent except that it did not include the second to the last paragraph, which was apparently added by the President. A paper with the text of that paragraph, with a note indicating that it was to be inserted before the last paragraph of the letter and a handwritten note stating that it was sent electronically to Ben Read at 5:40 p.m., is ibid. Kohler gave the reply to Dobrynin at 7 p.m. His memorandum of the conversation with an attached copy of the letter, identical to the one sent, is in Department of State, Kohler Files: Lot 71 D 460, Kohler/Dobrynin Memcons.
  2. The text of Goldberg’s statement in the Security Council on November 20 is in Department of State Bulletin, December 18, 1967, pp. 841–842.
  3. The copy of this paragraph cited in footnote 1 above contains a handwritten revision of this sentence, in which the words “in the corridors and meeting halls of the United Nations” are crossed out and the words “thousands of miles from the scene” are added. The revised language does not appear, however, in the copy of the letter Kohler gave to Dobrynin.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.