93. Message From the Government of the Soviet Union to the Government of the United States1

In the oral message, conveyed through Ambassador Thompson on January 22, you touched upon the question, which has been already within our sight and on which the position of the USSR was laid down in the Soviet draft resolution of the Security Council of November 20, 1967, concerning the questions of political settlement in the Middle East. Had the Government of the United States wished to put the discussion of this matter on the practical plane then a proper opportunity would have been presented by the provisions of the Soviet draft, which stated, in particular, about taking measures for limitation of useless and wasteful arms race on the condition of withdrawal of the Israeli troops from all occupied Arab territories.

The Soviet Government, as before, agrees under certain conditions to an exchange of views on the question of limiting the delivery of arms to the Middle East and would be ready to discuss this matter with the leaders of the friendly Arab states. However, we are deeply convinced that the main link of the whole complicated knot of the Middle East problems does not lie now in this. The clue to a settlement of the present crisis in the Middle East is in the speediest withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied Arab territories, in the elimination of the consequences of the Israeli aggression. You will agree, Mr. President, that it would be pointless to speak of ending arms race in the Middle East while Israel, using armed force, is retaining and even trying to secure the occupation of Arab territories seized by her.

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Certainly, if the United States also adopted the position answering the interests of peace in the Middle East and supported the legitimate demands for the withdrawal of the Israeli troops to the lines existed before June 5, 1967, Israel would—and there is no doubt about it—release the seized territories, the Suez canal would be opened and the unsolved problems would be settled. There can be neither peace nor political settlement in the Middle East without the withdrawal of the Israeli troops from the occupied Arab territories. This is the first and basic point regarding which there must be full clarity. Without it the wishes for the limitation of arms race in the Middle East have no real ground. So long as the Israeli leaders, enjoying the support from the outside, adhere to the position of annexation of the Arab territories the friends of the Arab countries and the partisans of lasting peace in the Middle East will help the victims of aggression, since in doing so they are fulfilling their duty in accordance with the U.N. Charter and the interests of maintaining peace.

At the same time we would like to stress at this instance again that, as before, we are firmly standing for lessening tension in the Middle East, for turning this area into a zone of lasting peace, and no one should have any doubts about that.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 64, 2/22-29/68. No classification marking. A note on the message indicates that it is an unofficial translation. This message, conveyed by Ambassador Dobrynin to Secretary Rusk on February 27 as an oral message, was a reply to the message conveyed to the Soviet Government by Ambassador Thompson on January 22 (see Document 58). A memorandum of Rusk’s subsequent conversation with Dobrynin concerning the prospects for a peace settlement in the Middle East is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 64, 2/22-29/68.