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


  • US–USSR Talks as of Mid-Day, Tuesday, September 30

Since things may move quickly in the next twenty-four hours, here is a wrapup of where we stand just prior to Secretary Rogers’ final meeting with Gromyko. Sisco has the sense this afternoon that the Soviets may try to reach some sort of agreement in tonight’s meeting and press Sisco and Dobrynin into midnight session to hammer something out. Gromyko leaves tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.

On the basis of this morning’s meeting, Joe says Dobrynin seems to be playing with the idea of a shorter document trading Rhodes-type talks for something like Joe’s new formula—subject to agreement on Gaza, Sharm al-Shaikh and demilitarization, the UAR-Israel boundary would be the pre-war line. Joe understands your instruction not to go all the way while Mrs. Meir is here—but the Secretary might ask reconsideration if he felt he had something worthwhile.

Joe’s present document might thus drop suddenly into history. But as background and in case it does not, here is a rundown on where the SiscoDobrynin talks stand:

On 23 September, Dobrynin provided the clearest reading yet of the Soviet position (Tab A)2 in the course of a point by point review of our July document (Tab B).3 He gave the impression that the Soviets are ready to clear out some of the underbrush by reaching agreement on the wording of less important points, but there was little movement on the more difficult issues.

Summarized below is the discussion on each of the points in our July document:

Direct talks. The reference in the last preambular paragraph to the parties “convening under the auspices of Jarring” is still unacceptable [Page 272] to the Soviets. We interpret this to mean direct negotiations at some stage, leaving it to Jarring to determine how and when to get the parties together. Dobrynin said the Soviets do not bar eventual direct talks but could not commit the USSR now. [Comment: Later developments suggest they would give on Rhodes-type talks now in return for a US position on Washington to the pre-war line.]4
Phasing withdrawal. Dobrynin is still pushing mildly for a two-stage withdrawal, which would permit clearing of the Canal to begin early. (Point 1)
Canal clearing. Dobrynin wanted nothing in the document about using of the facilities of the UN to clear the Suez Canal since this restricts the UAR’s sovereignty of choice. [Comment: We can drop that.]
Timing effective date of agreement. Dobrynin continued to press the distinction between de jure and de facto peace so as to create points both at the beginning and at the end of withdrawal when positive steps toward peace could be identified. It was agreed that a further effort would be made to find language that would not get tangled up with the legal status of peace and would meet the problem of Egyptian and Israelis mutual suspicions. (Point 3)
Fedayeen. Dobrynin wanted to drop the Arab obligation to control the fedayeen. Joe resisted but agreed it might be moved elsewhere in the document. (Point 3)
Boundaries. Sisco restated and maintained our position without change, and suggested going back to it at a later stage. Our fallback was not revealed. (Point 4)
Demilitarized zones. Dobrynin said we were close to agreement. After indicating that the Soviets want some demilitarized area on the Israeli side of the boundary, he agreed to think over Sisco’s proposal of merely saying that DMZ’s will be established and leaving it to the parties to agree upon the area. (Point 5)
Gaza. The Soviets still want language which specifically calls for the presence of UN forces under the auspices of the Security Council with Arab sovereignty acknowledged. Sisco noted that this will be a point of major difficulty with Israel because there is a serious issue of security involved. Dobrynin said that specific reference to Israel working out the disposition of Gaza with the Jordan and the UAR under Jarring auspices was redundant and raises problems. Sisco agreed to consider taking out the reference to the three countries, but no more. (Point 6)
Sharm al-Shaikh. The Soviets continued to object to our position that the parties would agree upon security arrangements. The USSR and the UAR are prepared to accept the presence of UN forces, guaranteed by the Security Council for a fixed period, but the continuing presence of Israeli troops was unacceptable. Sisco said we do not disagree with the idea of a UN guarantee, but the idea of a UN force is unacceptable to Israel. He suggested that the best solution was to come up with neutral language that will allow the parties to work something out when they begin talking. (Point 7)
Canal. Sisco made it clear to Dobrynin that any reference to the Constantinople Convention on the Suez Canal is unacceptable to us. It was agreed to refer the matter back to Secretary Rogers and Gromyko. (Point 8)
Refugees. Dobrynin said Gromyko was not very keen on our suggestion of 10,000 as an annual quota. We suggested that this be left to Jarring to work out with the parties and that the reference to refugees be limited to Israel assuming the obligations of the UN with respect to refugees. Sisco insisted that there was no way to duck the question of some sort of limitation. (Point 9)
Obligations of peace. There was no problem on points 10 (disputes to be settled peacefully); 11 (agreement to respect and recognize each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability, political independence and the right to live in peace without acts of force); 12 (definition of agreement to terminate all claims on states of belligerency); 13 (deposition of final accord with the UN); and 14 (final agreement submitted for endorsement by the four permanent members in the Security Council).

Secretary Rogers met again with Gromyko on September 26 against the background of the SiscoDobrynin session and Mrs. Meir’s visit. (Tab C)5 It was agreed that, if Sisco and Dobrynin could agree on a document, an acceptable timetable might be to have it approved by the four powers toward the end of October hopefully for the beginning of Rhodes-type negotiations sometime in November, after the Israeli election.

Gromyko then probed our position on several specific issues.

  • —He asked if Secretary Rogers’ proposal for continuing discussion suggested that the border between Israel and Egypt would be the pre-1967 border. Secretary Rogers indicated he could not make that commitment, but thought that something along those lines could be worked out, assuming that the Sharm al-Shaikh issue and other aspects could be satisfactorily resolved.
  • A fairly extended discussion took place over the refugee issue. Secretary Rogers has the impression that some sort of ceiling can be worked out, although this was not explicitly stated.

    Gromyko did not oppose the suggestion that the subject of the West Bank was a matter that should be left open to negotiations between Israel and Jordan.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 710, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. V. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates that Kissinger saw it on October 3.
  2. Tab A is telegram 3217 from USUN, September 24; attached but not printed.
  3. Tab B is the Joint U.S.–USSR Draft of Fundamental Principles, the U.S. counterproposal to the Soviet June 17 Middle East position, delivered by Sisco to Gromyko on July 15; attached but not printed.
  4. All brackets in the source text.
  5. Tab C is telegram 3276 from USUN, September 27; attached but not printed.