98. Telegram From the Department of State to the U.S. Interests Section of the Spanish Embassy in the United Arab Republic1
Washington, March 2, 1968, 1546Z.
123889. Subj: Jarring Mission.
Summary: Ambassador Dobrynin says USSR does not wish Arab-Israel crisis return to Security Council. Wants to work with US to find practical means implement resolution. Suggested it be done in stages. Rostow welcomed USSR willingness to work with US to help parties find solution but insisted resolution was package and negotiations of some kind necessary to work out details.
- Dobrynin invited Rostow to lunch on Feb. 23. Dobrynin said he would first report what UAR had told Soviet Union about Jarring talks [Page 201] in Cairo Feb 21. Dobrynin said they are routinely supplied with verbatim report of meetings. Jarring said he had been unable get from Israelis clear acceptance of Security Council Resolution, and promise to respect and implement it. Egyptians said they told Jarring they accepted resolution as a whole, and would carry it out fully. In reply to Jarring’s question about negotiating procedures, they said they were now negotiating with Israelis through Jarring, and refused answer categorically whether they would engage in indirect negotiations on Nicosia. While they did not quite exclude possibility, they would not answer question in absence of Israeli acceptance of resolution equivalent to one they had given Jarring. Jarring said he was near despair about mission, but would make one final try with Israelis before reporting to Security Council.UAR was talking about returning to Security Council and General Assembly. Soviet Union was concerned about these possibilities. Dobrynin thought we and they should work with parties to facilitate success of Jarring, both in present procedural impasse and on substantive issues at later point. Naturally, Israelis’ refusal to undertake to respect and implement resolution gave rise to Arab suspicions both about Israel’s attitude and US attitude.
- Rostow welcomed Dobrynin’s assurance Soviet Union did not want matter returned to Security Council and General Assembly, but wanted to work with us and parties to facilitate Jarring’s effort. He agreed frank discussions between us on these subjects could clear away suspicions and misunderstandings, and therefore be helpful. Answering Dobrynin’s question, Rostow said in our view whole exercise about “accepting” the resolution was metaphysical irrelevance, which had delayed process of peace dangerously. We assumed all parties had “accepted” resolution when it was passed, in sense of agreeing to work under it. But Arab insistence on words “respect and implement” had given rise to suspicions they were seeking settlement like that of 1957, without negotiations among parties and without engagement. After what had happened in 1967, this procedure was out of question. Resolution in our view was not self-implementing. It required agreement on part of parties—as to frontiers, security arrangements, and other matters. We did not see how it could be implemented unless there were negotiations-or, if that word was cabalistic to Arabs, discussions among parties looking to agreements called for by resolution. From our talks in Cairo, we had impression Egyptians have been stressing word “implement” rather than “accept” precisely in order to avoid negotiations. We did not insist on direct negotiations. We had relied on Nasser’s public statement he would engage in negotiations like those in Rhodes, i.e., discussions with Israelis in presence of Jarring. UAR Ambassadors had made same point to us and to British. On basis of those statements, we had urged Israelis to agree to procedure, and they had done so, publicly and to Jarring. We and British thought some such [Page 202] procedure was indispensable. Present confusion illustrated its value. We were working in dark, on basis of ex parte reports of talks with Jarring, which might or might not be accurate. We all had great stake in Jarring’s success. We were evidently agreed that nothing but trouble could come from return to Security Council. Why should we allow others to drag us into troubles we did not want? It was our appraisal of the situation that if it were clear UAR would engage in substantive negotiations, in Rhodes pattern, on real problems under resolution-borders, security arrangements, refugees-semantic difficulties about words used in “accepting” resolution could be overcome.
- Dobrynin said he didn’t see why so much stress was put on meetings in Nicosia, and he couldn’t understand why Israelis, who were such clever people, made so much difficulty about accepting resolution. Egyptians had assured Soviets they would deal with every issue mentioned in resolution. That should be sufficient assurance to Israelis and to us that all issues would be taken up. Dobrynin clearly was not fighting hard on the Nicosia issue, but he did not undertake to press Egyptians on it, either. Dobrynin then asked for our views on how resolution could be implemented, as a practical matter. Could it be done in stages? For example, would we favor an Israeli withdrawal from “territories occupied in recent conflict,” as called for under Article I of resolution, accompanied by recognition on part of Arabs of Israel’s right to live, to be followed by negotiations on use of waterways, refugees, security arrangements.
- Rostow said he could not speak for Israel, but we had favored any approach on which parties could agree for moving towards peace, and certainly would not exclude implementing agreement in stages. But he did not think scenario Dobrynin laid out was feasible, or complied with resolution as whole. We had favored approach which would have linked withdrawals to end of belligerency, but UAR had said it would not open canal to Israeli shipping until refugee problem was solved. We were willing to go along with that approach, which was that of Security Council Resolution. If UAR preferred package deal, we had no objections. Dobrynin said the UAR did prefer package deal, but maybe practicable way could be found to get some change in situation soon. Rostow said we would favor progressive steps towards peace. But resolution required agreement on “secure and recognized” boundaries, which, as practical matter, and as matter of interpreting resolution, had to precede withdrawals. Two principles were basic to Article I of resolution. Paragraph from which Dobrynin quoted was linked to others, and he did not see how anyone could seriously argue, in light of history of resolution in Security Council, withdrawal to borders of June 4th was contemplated. These words had been pressed on Council by Indians and others, and had not been accepted.
- Dobrynin asked whether we thought solution of refugee problem was possible. Rostow said we thought it should not be too difficult, in context of peace. As he knew, Secretary thought refugees ought to be given some real choices, and not used as political hostages. Dobrynin said he supposed some refugees should emigrate to other countries. Rostow agreed. He would not exclude some repatriation or compensation, in right political atmosphere.
- At end, Dobrynin stressed again risks of return to Security Council and other trouble and importance of cooperation between US and USSR to facilitate Jarring’s mission. He said several times he would appreciate on personal and off-record basis, being briefed on Israeli version of talks with Jarring. Rostow had impression Soviets were as puzzled as we sometimes are by each side’s confidence in Jarring’s support for their view of problem.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Bovis; cleared by Johnstone, Atherton, Houghton, and Davis; and approved by Eugene Rostow. Also sent to Tel Aviv and Amman.↩