69. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Complete Wrapup on Sisco in Moscow

In a nutshell, I would characterize Joe’s talks in Moscow as they appear from his reports as friendly and businesslike with a good deal more substantive discussion than was possible with Dobrynin here. Since the Soviets are holding their response to our latest formulation2 until they have studied it further, we cannot claim to have made any important substantive headway. However, it looks to me like a useful exercise.

The principal tactical issue to come out of it is Gromyko’s effort at the end to have the discussions continue in Moscow. Joe finessed that and said we will be glad to receive the Soviet response to our latest formulation anywhere and then we can arrange how to discuss it.

Attached is a full collection of his reports:

  • Tab A: His introductory meeting with Gromyko
  • Tab B: His first substantive meeting—July 15
  • Tab C: His second substantive meeting—July 15
  • Tab D: His reflections at the end of the first day
  • Tab E: His third substantive meeting—July 16
  • Tab F: His farewell call on Gromyko—July 17
  • Tab G: His talk with Jarring in Stockholm3

A résumé of the main points covered at these meetings follows:

GromykoSisco—July 14 (Tab A)

Gromyko, in an affable mood, stressed the Soviet desire for peace and sent an oral message to that effect to the President. Gromyko also [Page 214] said it was time to get down to specifics, and that we hide too much behind Israeli stubbornness. In the course of the meeting, Gromyko hinted that differences on refugees and the Suez Canal could be resolved, but showed no give on direct negotiations and Arab obligations flowing from a state of peace. Sisco feels the Soviets are looking for a way to finesse the direct negotiations problem. Sisco sees no need to reconsider using the fall back language on withdrawal at this point.

First and Second Substantive Meetings—July 15 (Tabs B and C)

Sisco presented our revised paper with a detailed explanation in two meetings on Tuesday with Deputy Foreign Minister Vinogradov. Vinogradov confined himself mainly to questions designed to clarify our position, but which revealed little new about Soviet views.

Vinogradov did, however, say that the proposals show a considerable amount of work has been done by the US. He asked when we would be ready to show them a paper on Jordan and suggested that we might want to take the public position that the US and USSR are now working on a joint paper rather than trading counter proposals. Sisco was non-committal on both suggestions.

At the End of the First Day—Sisco’s Reflections (Tab D)

The Soviets seem to feel the Arabs are on weak ground in trying to avoid direct negotiations, but the Soviets themselves did not give on the issue.
The Soviets might welcome neutral language on some key points that we turn over to Jarring because they are having problems with the Egyptians just as we are having problems with the Israelis.
They seem intrigued by our annual quota formulation on refugee repatriation.
The decision not to move the talks permanently to Moscow was very right. The Soviets are interested in giving themselves the image of peacemaker in the Middle East.

Third Substantive Meeting—July 16 (Tab E)

After lunch on Wednesday, Vinogradov made a more detailed reply to our paper and to some of our comments on their paper.

In listing principles and setting up procedures, the USSR has already made it clear that it is talking about peace. [Comment: Our trouble is that this is largely a negative definition, and the Israelis want a positive definition.]4
US procedures for achieving peace seem inadequate. [Comment: This is because we want to leave much more to the parties than the Soviets do.]
The Soviets want a multilateral document, not the UAR-Israel document we keep giving them, i.e., one including Jordan as well. (Even they are content to leave Syria aside.) Sisco explained again that all we are doing is attacking the UAR-Israel problem first.
The long section on peace-keeping was included in the Soviet document only because they feel this problem is bound to arise. They are not particularly concerned about when it is addressed.
They are disappointed that we won’t apply the inadmissability of conquest to Gaza by agreeing that it should return to its pre-War status. Sisco explained that Gaza has never had a final status, that we have to recognize the Israelis are occupying it now, and that we want Jordan to have a voice in the final decision.
The Soviets don’t understand why we insist on navigation guarantees from the Egyptians when a Security Council guarantee would be both easier to get and worth more to the Israelis. Sisco said we had no problems with a Security Council guarantee, but we felt an Egyptian guarantee was also necessary.

Sisco again proposed that we take the effort to find US-Soviet agreement as far as we can, and where we can’t agree, use neutral language which leaves a solution to Jarring and the parties.

Vinogradov closed the meeting by saying he is pleased that we are now working on a common document instead of exchanging counter proposals. Sisco said he could not make this characterization yet.

Second GromykoSisco—July 17 (Tab F)

Only three interesting new points emerged in Sisco’s final meeting with Gromyko on Thursday.

Gromyko felt our paper shows greater flexibility.
The Soviets may not give us another counter-proposal, but may decide instead to go over the two latest papers with us orally.
Gromyko suggested continuing the talks in Moscow.

SiscoJarring (Tab G)

This was mainly a briefing session. Sisco feels Jarring shares his view that the Soviets are not going to push Cairo hard in the immediate future and that they will try to chip away at our position between now and the opening of the UN General Assembly.

You need not read all the attached cables. I suggest you do look at the two Gromyko conversations (Tabs A and F) and Sisco’s reflections (Tab D). If you want the flavor of some of the SiscoVinogradov talk, I suggest Tab E, which is more Vinogradov than Sisco.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 653, Country Files, Middle East, Sisco Middle East Talks, April–June 1969. Secret; Nodis. Printed from an uninitialed copy.
  2. The text of the U.S. counterproposal to the Soviet June 17 Middle East position, delivered by Sisco to Gromyko on July 15, is in telegram 3485 from Moscow, July 15. Saunders attached a copy of it, but not as part of Tabs A–G summarized below. It is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1969–1972.
  3. Tab A is telegram 3463 from Moscow, July 14; Tab B is telegram 3501 from Moscow, July 15; Tab C is telegram 3503 from Moscow, July 16; Tab D is telegram 3500 from Moscow, July 15; Tab E are telegrams 3546 and 3547 from Moscow, July 16; Tab F is telegram 3566 from Moscow, July 17; Tab G is telegram 2045 from Stockholm, July 18; all attached but not printed.
  4. All brackets in the source text.