254. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

I put to Sect. Rusk the five questions you raised with me on the telephone when I had a meeting in my office.

[Here follow two paragraphs unrelated to the Middle East.]

[Page 502]

3. On the other hand, Sect. Rusk is taking personally in hand Dobrynin’s urging that we make a reply on the Middle East. He will have a long personal talk with Rabin tomorrow.2

W. W. Rostow 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt W. Rostow, Middle East and Vietnam Negotiations, Sept. 1968. Secret; Sensitive; Literally Eyes Only.
  2. The nub of the problem is the fear of our Middle East experts that if we get into a negotiating posture with the Soviet Union, the Arabs will draw back from Jarring and leave the task for the U.S. and the USSR, which is just what they want in the first place. The art of working out something to give to the Russians is to do it in a way which would strengthen, not weaken, Jarring. In my initial judgment, that, in turn, requires building into our scenario direct Arab-Israeli contacts at a relatively early stage on certain specific issues. Like the Russians, we, too, could give our paper to Jarring and make it clear both to him and the Russians that we are counting on him to move forward and that we and, we hope, the Russians will be trying to be helpful from the rear. This is the message we would also get across to the Arabs. [Footnote in the source text added by Rostow.]
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.