171. Telegram From the Department of State to the U.S. Interests Section of the Spanish Embassy in the United Arab Republic 1

163325. The following message for President Nasser has been received from President Johnson at the Texas White House. You should deliver it to Foreign Minister Riad in the course of your call tomorrow:

“May 13, 1968

Dear Mr. President:

I have just received and read your letter of May 1.2

For years we have regretted the failure of the parties to find a settlement to the Arab-Israel problem which would command general satisfaction. Now, for the first time since 1948, there is an opportunity to move toward peace. For the sake of all peoples concerned, that opportunity should be seized.

For far too long, a tragic proportion of Egypt’s and Israel’s national resources have been devoted to armaments for use against each other. There has been far too much reliance on force to settle problems in the Middle East—a region which cries out for economic and social development and which could organize the resources for the task.

It is time for a change, and the Security Council Resolution of November 22 states the purposes and principles which should govern it.

As you know, we have strongly supported that resolution as consistent with the statement I made on June 19, 1967. That statement and the resolution embodying its essential principles have been, and will remain, the firm basis of our policy. We believe a settlement consistent with the principles set forth in my statement and the resolution can be reached if the parties concerned can arrive at an agreement on substantive details within the terms of the resolution. To this end we have encouraged all parties to cooperate with Ambassador Jarring and believe that his mission provides the best means for reaching an agreed solution.

In this regard, I have been encouraged by the indications of your readiness to cooperate with Ambassador Jarring. When he is able to organize a serious discussion of substantive issues, it should be possible [Page 337] for the United States and other interested nations to use their influence in the interest of a just and durable peace in accordance with the resolution of November 22.

Success will require our most energetic personal efforts. As you know, Mr. President, I recently made the decision not to seek another term as President of the United States because I believed I could do more in this way to advance the cause of peace—in the Middle East as well as in Vietnam. But you and I know that, important as the efforts of my country may be, peace with justice will not come unless the parties to this long conflict themselves want peace badly enough to struggle for it.

With every good wish,

Sincerely, Lyndon B. Johnson”

Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted at the White House; cleared by Battle, Goldberg, Sisco, and Eugene Rostow; and approved by John P. Walsh (S/S). Repeated to USUN, Amman, and Tel Aviv.
  2. Document 161.