170. Editorial Note

On June 20, 1970, Secretary of State William Rogers and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Joseph Sisco met with Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin to present United States proposals on securing a Middle East peace settlement. Rogers stated the following U.S. position:

  • “a) We are proposing that the UAR, Israel, and Jordan promptly begin discussions under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices, according to whatever procedures are recommended by him, for the purpose of the agreed implementation of the November 1967 Security Council Resolution.
  • “b) We are proposing, as a basis for the commencement of Jarring’s efforts, that the UAR, Israel, and Jordan make identical statements that they (a) accept Resolution 242 and (b) agree that the purpose of the discussions to be conducted by Ambassador Jarring is to reach agreement on the establishment of a just and lasting peace between them based on (i) mutual acknowledgment by the UAR, Jordan and Israel of each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and [Page 527] political independence; and (ii) withdrawal of Israeli forces, both in accordance with Resolution 242.
  • “c) To facilitate Ambassador Jarring’s mission we are further proposing that the UAR, Israel, and Jordan subscribe to a full restoration of the ceasefire, effective July 1 until at least October 1.
  • “d) To be effective, the ceasefire would have to include an understanding that (a) both sides would stop all incursions and all firing, on the ground and in the air, across the ceasefire lines, (b) the UAR would refrain from changing the military status quo (by emplacing SAMs or other new installations in an agreed zone west of the Suez Canal ceasefire line), and (c) Israel would observe a similar standstill on new installations in a similar zone east of the Canal.
  • “e) We are suggesting that this proposal be incorporated in a report from Ambassador Jarring to Secretary General Thant, which the parties would accept as a basis for talks under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices.
  • “f) The U.S. Government is making every effort to secure Israel’s acceptance, and our hope is that the USSR, jointly or in parallel with us will seek the acceptance and cooperation of the UAR.”

After hearing Rogers’s points, Dobrynin expressed two concerns. First, would the procedures in the new formula for bringing parties together overcome the traditional practice of one side insisting on direct negotiations while the other side insisted on indirect discussions? Second, was the United States not, in effect, “throwing away” the results of the Two-Power and Four-Power negotiations? To the first concern, Rogers replied that the “wording of formula in effect gave Jarring discretionary power with respect to procedural arrangements.” Sisco added that “each side would have to justify entering negotiations with other side within framework of its own policy and its preferred procedure of negotiations.” On Dobrynin’s second concern, Rogers “took considerable pains to assure Dobrynin that Two-Power and Four-Power negotiations would continue in parallel with negotiations between parties directly concerned and that once latter under way the Four Powers would be in a position to influence their course and make a real contribution to a settlement.” (Telegram 97773 to Moscow, June 20; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1155, Saunders Files, US Peace Initiative for Middle East, 6/10–7/23/70, Vol. 1, 3 of 5)

At a press conference on June 25, 1970, Rogers made the following statement about the Middle East that incorporated the points made 5 days before to Dobrynin:

“Recent and disquieting events in the Middle East led President Nixon, on April 29 to order a thorough review of all political and military aspects of the problem. That review has now been concluded. As a consequence of the review, the United States has undertaken a political initiative, the objective of which is to encourage the parties to stop shooting and start talking under the auspices of Ambassador Jarring in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council. Our [Page 528] objective in launching this initiative has been to encourage the parties to move towards a just and lasting peace which takes fully into account the legitimate aspirations and concerns of all governments and peoples of the area. In light of that objective, we believe it would not be useful to disclose at this time details of the political initiative or to discuss publicly military assistance for Israel. We believe that this is the time for such an initiative which we have launched directly with the parties and with other interested powers.” (Department of State Bulletin, July 13, 1970, page 26)