219. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State 1

11146. Dept pass Cairo. Subject: Ball/Sisco trip—discussions with Talhouni and Rifai of Jordan.

1. Summary: In two-hour meeting July 17 with Jordanian PriMin Talhouni and FonMin Rifai, Ball gave them his overall impressions of present Israeli attitude towards Jarring Mission and a peace settlement. While obviously noncommittal and at the outset presenting Jordanian position along traditional lines, reaction of Ministers gave impression that specific substantive ideas which Eban asked Ball to transmit to the Jordanians regarding possible shape of an eventual settlement would not be dismissed out of hand particularly in light of fact Ball made clear our feeling that this Israeli opening bargaining position. Suspicion obviously remains in minds of Jordanian leaders that concrete propositions we conveyed to GOJ on behalf of Israel are largely tactical gambit to, in GOJ words, “escape responsibilities of SC resolution”; nevertheless we had impression matter would be weighed carefully.

Atmosphere of talks was influenced in part by fact that word was trickling in regarding Iraqi coup. While conversation in opening round tended to be rather hard expression of Jordanian view, we were impressed with Rifai’s very brief but objective summation of current state of play re Jarring Mission which he gave to King Hussein at lunch. For example, Rifai told the King in front of us that the situation was not unhopeful, that there was some movement, that Jarring Mission should be continued and that Jordan should continue to support him and respond constructively. We had distinct impression that Rifai has bought idea of Jarring continuing his probes between now and opening of GA and that GOJ has intention of sending Rifai to GA during opening days to help move things along.

Ball had excellent opportunity to get across to GOJ our impression that there is a will toward peace in Israel though we doubted Israeli substantive position on settlement would crystallize until there were discussions between Arabs and Israelis which would tend to force GOI Cabinet to face issues and to make decisions of a substantive character.GOJ seemed impressed with Ball description that we had been categoric in conveying to Israelis our view that while we did not see how [Page 431] final settlement could be achieved without parties at some appropriate stage sitting down together, nevertheless insistence on acceptance of direct negotiations as condition precedent was untenable posture for GOI.

GOJ leaders also showed interest in information Ball provided them regarding two specific substantive questions Israelis had asked Jarring to pass to UAR in hopes that this might help get “a process” started. Fact that Israelis were conveying specifics to UAR through Jarring and specifics to GOJ through us seemed to make some impression, though difficult to ascertain how much.

We found that Talhouni and Rifai agreed with us that there is no value to going into the SC in the foreseeable future, though they obviously felt the need to leave open this possibility, particularly on the question of Jerusalem, should future developments require. Re Israeli desire for direct contacts with GOJ, they (A) voiced suspicion that GOI seeking evade obligations under SC resolutions; (B) asserted that overriding need was for plan to implement resolution which Jarring could work out; and (C) that GOJ “never had nor would enter separate direct contacts with Israel.” In connection with foregoing, Ball stressed that resolution was not a peace settlement, and that Jarring’s activities could help prepare way, by clearing underbrush and sharpening issues, for agreement between parties.

Biggest area of doubt which developed during course of conversation relates to Israeli intentions vis-a-vis Jarring in late July or early August on which we wish Barbour to follow up as he deems appropriate. Rifai was told by Jarring that GOI has promised Jarring map, or at least descriptive memorandum, giving its conception of secure and recognized boundaries. Neither Ball nor Sisco received any such impression from the Israelis. All Eban and Raphael indicated to us was that they intend to tell Jarring one way or another by the end of this month whether they see any real prospects for progress with the GOJ. They mentioned nothing about providing either Jarring or the GOJ with maps of boundaries and we were candid with the GOJ in questioning Israeli intention of going this far this soon, particularly in circumstances where there are obvious divisions in Israeli Cabinet and no consensus reached on elements of territorial settlement.

We made headway in one other way in that Talhouni and Rifai both agree that Jarring should continue his probes between now and opening of the GA and that Rifai very much hopes that circumstances will be such that he and number other FonMins can engage in intensive consultations during opening days GA in order move things along. In fact the idea of intensive effort on the ME among the FonMins at the time of GA opening which we have been selling all along the circuit has taken hold. The only real question which unhappily is crucial, will [Page 432] be the UAR willingness to send Riad. Burgus ought to be working on this on a day by day basis so as to assure Riad’s presence at that time. End summary.

[Here follows the 12-page body of the telegram.]

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, UN 7. Secret; Priority;Exdis. Repeated to Amman, Jidda, London, Moscow, Tel Aviv, USUN, and Jerusalem.