249. Information Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

Mr. President:

Pursuant to my memorandum to you of yesterday (attached),2 Ambassador Dobrynin came to my home at 8:30 yesterday evening. We had a very long private conversation.

[Here follows a summary of a portion of the conversation unrelated to the Middle East.]

Dobrynin then turned to the Middle East and raised this question: In the wake of their paper to us on the Middle East,3 is there any way that a Summit meeting might push us towards peace in the Middle East? I then pointed out to him that the paper they had given us was interesting in structure, but it did not come to grips with the Israeli judgment that only direct negotiations could lead to a settlement which would be politically and psychologically stable. I told him we were taking the Soviet paper seriously, but there were problems with it, including the relationship of any views that might be developed between the United States and the Soviet Union on the one hand, and the Jarring mission on the other.
Dobrynin then made a long reply with the following points:
  • —After the Arab-Israeli war, the Soviet Union could have exploited the situation to set up bases and greatly to strengthen its military and political position in the Middle East. They had decided not to do so. This paper reflected an authentic desire for a stable settlement.
  • —We should be conscious of one particular point in the Soviet proposal; namely, the idea of a Four-Power guarantee of Middle Eastern borders. The idea had come to him through Dr. Nahum Goldman, an old Zionist. He, Dobrynin, and the Soviet Government had concluded that a Four-Power guarantee of the Middle Eastern frontiers was the most solid basis the Israelis could acquire for the continuity of their national existence—more solid than a peace treaty with the Arab states. He suggested that, perhaps, an agreement on this particular point might be a constructive item for a Summit meeting.
  • —As for the rest of the substance of the paper, he thought that Jarring might submit some such paper against the background of prior U.S.-Soviet agreement. Jarring had been running around the Middle East, but not making much progress. If he could put in a proposal backed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, then his mission might move forward more rapidly.

He returned several times in the course of the conversation to a Four-Power guarantee as the critical element for Israel in the Soviet paper.

[Here follows a summary of a portion of the conversation unrelated to the Middle East.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt W. Rostow, Chlodnik, Box 12. Top Secret; Sensitive; For the Eyes of the President and Secretary of State Only.
  2. In the attached memorandum to the President, Rostow reviewed his guidance from the President for his meeting with Dobrynin.
  3. See Document 245.