187. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

4134. Subject: Soviet Reply re Soviet Arms to UAR and Gromyko Comments on Procedures for Jarring Mission. Ref: Moscow 4131.2

Following is informal Embassy translation of statement on Soviet arms to ME handed to me late afternoon July 24 by Gromyko (Reftel). He said this was not identical to the one handed by Dobrynin to Secy July 23,3 which related to Jarring mission. July 24 statement was [Page 577] of more general nature, and was Soviet reply to our request for information about their military intentions in ME.

Begin text: A. In connection with your July 10 statement4 concerning the ME situation, and similar statements made by the American side to the USSR Amb in Washington, it is requested that the following answer of the SovGov be brought to the attention of your Govt.

B. The Soviet Union has always proceeded and proceeds from the conviction that a way can and must be found toward a political settlement of the ME conflict and thereby the elimination of the danger which has been created in this region. This is our firm position. One would wish that the USG would also adhere to such an approach.

C. As we have already repeatedly stated to the American side, we consider that the establishment of a firm peace in the ME by means of a political settlement of the conflict corresponds to the interests both of the countries which are direct participants in the conflict, as well as the interests of the USA and USSR. Only in this way can the existence and independence of all states of this region, including Israel, be guaranteed. It goes without saying that such a political settlement implies (Podrazumevayet) the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all the territories which they are occupying. It would not be realistic to count on firm peace in the ME without this.

D. All Soviet proposals during the exchange of views with the American side, including also our most recent proposals on the key questions of a settlement, to which the American side until recently has attached—in its words—great importance, have been aimed at achieving the goals of a just political settlement in the ME. And if now the bilateral Soviet-American exchange of views has been halted, then this is not at all our fault. It is then turn of the US to answer our most recent proposals, during the formulation of which the desires of the American side also were taken into account.

E. In the statements made by you, as well as in certain other statements recently by American officials, assertions are contained about allegedly existing discrepancies between the SovGov’s line for a political settlement of the ME conflict and its steps toward rendering assistance to the UAR in the matter of strengthening its defense capability. However, without contradicting facts and common sense, it is impossible to prove that the actions aimed at halting Israel’s continuing aggression against neighboring Arab states—whatever parts of the territories of these states such action touch upon—do not have a defensive but some other kind of character. In that connection, the assertions that measures for strengthening the UAR’s air defense signify allegedly a change in the military balance between the sides are also [Page 578] totally without foundation. If one follows this logic, then it turns out that when the Israeli air forces were able to bomb with impunity the UAR’s territory, this was considered by the US as evidence of some sort of “balance,” but when they are deprived of such a possibility, this is declared to be a “dangerous violation of the balance.”

F. Such a logic, of course, suits Israel, which is not squeamish about disseminating various sorts of concoctions for its provocative purposes. But when statements, which obviously do not correspond to the real state of affairs, emanate from the American side, then, naturally, the question arises: what purposes are being pursued by this. If this is being done in the hope of somehow “justifying” further steps for rendering military support to Israel, the consequences of such a course of action and the responsibility which would lay on it in this instance should be clear to the USG.

G. Thus, in confirming its firm policy of searching—together with the USA, given its readiness for this—for ways for a peaceful political settlement in the ME, the SovGov deems it necessary to state that an undesirable development of events in the ME can take place only in the event that it will be caused by corresponding actions of Israel and in the event the USG desires this. We do not see other reasons for an unforeseen development of events in the way of exacerbating the situation in this region. One would hope that the USG will act, carefully weighing all circumstances, and will be able to cool the ardor of those hotheads in Tel Aviv who would like to undertake new, dangerous provocations.

H. As regards the question of activation of the Jarring mission, we do not see great difficulties in this question. We have always advocated the maximum use of the possibilities of this mission and we are for its success, about which the SovGov once again informed the USG on July 23. But the main thing is the essence of the questions of a settlement, which is the goal also of Jarring’s mission, and the essence of the positions of the states on these questions. End text.

I told Gromyko I would send this statement to Washington. I then said that, regarding the suspension of bilateral talks, no blame or accusations had been made. The reason related to the presentation of our initiative, to which we now have UAR and Soviet responses.
Regarding the two statements I had made, their aim was to seek clarification of Soviet military programs in the UAR. We had no ulterior motives, or intentions to cover up further US deliveries to Israel. In this respect, in fact, we have shown restraint regarding new deliveries. We were seeking information and clarification from the Soviets in order to be reassured that the military situation in the ME would not escalate. I said we would carefully study Gromyko’s statement and Washington would have to determine its significance and whether it provided us with more information.
Gromyko said if USG wished to contribute to a lessening of tension, the first step would be to influence Israel to give a positive reply, to state in clear terms that it accepts and will fulfill UNSC 242. Israel should do what the UAR has done. Gromyko said he did not know if Jordan had replied yet. Then, Gromyko continued, Jarring presumably should go somewhere and meet with some persons to begin the exchange of views.
Gromyko said the important thing was the substance of the matter. The Arabs will be asking Jarring what is the nature of the Israeli and US positions. If Jarring says they have no position, Gromyko said he did not know how long negotiations would continue. Therefore, agreement should be reached—and the sooner the better—on the platform by which Jarring should be guided.
I told Gromyko we believed the first step was to gain acceptance by both sides of UNSC 242. If we could bring this about, Jarring would have a useful basis to begin his talks.
Gromyko then indicated that the Soviets would be interested in having our reply to their proposals. (He obviously had in mind their new formulations on peace, State 102698; and Dobrynin’s June 2 meeting with the Secy, State 85691.) I said Washington was continuing to give them careful study. He then said that Amb Dobrynin would be leaving for vacation “in a few days.”
I asked Gromyko if he thought the Four-Power talks would now go more slowly, with the action shifting to Jarring. Gromyko pressed the point that the Four-Power talks must continue, in order to provide the basis for the beginning of Jarring’s negotiations. Without such guidance, there was the danger that the contacts would not result in anything. Gromyko expressed the view that mere acceptance by the parties of UNSC 242 would not be enough for success. Jarring would have to have in his possession recommendations worked out in the Four-Power talks. At the same time, Gromyko indicated Moscow would not object to bilateral talks in this matter.
I again pointed out the importance as a basis for Jarring’s mission of having both sides accept UNSC 242. By way of example, I drew his attention to the fact that Bunche had undertaken his earlier ME mission without detailed guidance. Gromyko responded by saying the situation was much more complicated now.
Rather than continue this aspect of the discussion to the point where Gromyko might feel compelled to say that the Four-Power talks would have to provide Jarring with instructions before he could begin his negotiations, I said that we would carefully consider his remarks and that we would doubtless have ideas of our own about future procedures.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1155, Saunders File, U.S. Peace Initiative for the Middle East, June Initiative, 6/10/70–7/23/70, Vol. 2, 2 of 5. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. Telegram 4131, July 24, briefly reported Gromyko’s call on Beam about procedures for the Jarring mission. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 184.
  4. See Document 180.