107. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

47932. 1. At working lunch April 1, Dobrynin and Sisco agreed that in this first follow-up meeting after Dobrynin’s session with Secretary March 252 it would be well to examine as precisely as possible where we are and to try to determine what possibilities of agreement were. Principal results of meeting were:

(a) Soviets continue unwilling to join appeal to parties to restore ceasefire, but propose as alternative that US and USSR work quietly with Cairo and Tel Aviv to achieve an informal understanding on de facto ceasefire;

(b) Soviets continue adamant against arms limitation talks on ground Arabs feel this would only result in freezing a military balance clearly favorable to Israel;

(c) Soviets are willing to consider a formulation on peace along lines proposed by US to include explicitly obligation that there be QUOTE a cessation of war and establishment of peace UNQUOTE provided we are willing to commit ourselves to total withdrawal. Dobrynin explicitly specified this included Israeli withdrawal from Sharm al-Shaykh and Gaza, with latter to be explicitly designated as an Arab territory.

(d) Soviets propose a slight variant of past USSR proposal on relationship between timing of withdrawal of Israeli forces and entry into effect of peace obligations. Variant was described by Dobrynin as follows: (1) Once agreed document was deposited with UN, both sides would be obligated not to take any actions contrary to agreement; (2) Withdrawal would proceed by stages, and UN forces would be introduced at the end of the first stage during which UAR personnel would be limited to clearing Suez Canal rather than be introduced in area initially evacuated by Israeli forces. (3) At the end of the first stage there would be a de jure acceptance by UAR of both cessation of war and the state of peace. (4) With the understanding that the second stage of withdrawal would not be a long one (a month or two), UN forces would occupy the additional territories evacuated in that stage, and UAR forces would return to the Sinai with a UN buffer retained be[Page 358]tween the opposing sides. Dobrynin refused to be drawn out on the area of demilitarization or on whether UN buffer was to be on one side or on both sides of the border.

(e) Dobrynin refused to agree to the formulation on peace contained in Point 2 of the October 28th document3 but insisted that the formulation USSR has in mind is close to that of the US. When asked whether he agreed to US formulation as it related to the fedayeen, he did not accept this formulation but maintained Soviets had language in mind that might approximate this.

(f) On the question of negotiations, Dobrynin said Soviets no longer can accept present formulation on Rhodes formula, reiterating argument made previously that interpretation given to it by the parties has made this unacceptable.4 When pressed by Sisco for an alternative formula, Dobrynin said something roughly along the following lines: The parties will have contact between themselves through Jarring with the understanding he could use various forms.

(g) On Sharm al-Shaykh, Dobrynin insisted that there be explicit reference to UN force, its removal being subject to major power veto, and indicated willingness to suggest that UN Secretary General consult with the parties on question of composition and command of that force. He categorically precluded any Soviet troops being involved in such a UN force.

2. Sisco pressed Dobrynin on two procedural points without success: (a) Sisco suggested that while Dobrynin exposition was useful and helpful in understanding Soviet position, best vehicle for making progress would be for Dobrynin to offer specific new language as emendation to October 28th document which we consider to be a joint US–USSR effort and not solely an American product; and (b) Sisco suggested that in next session, which now set for afternoon April 6,5 he and Dobrynin discuss all other points in order to be sure that there are not other significant areas of disagreement. With respect to first point, Dobrynin insisted that he was under instructions to talk in terms of emendation of the Soviet June 1969 paper.6 Re (b), Dobrynin refused to focus on these other points unless and until US reacted to latest concrete Soviet suggestions. Sisco pointed out these gave rise to difficulties since (1) there were a number of points of difference between June and Oc[Page 359]tober documents, (2) October document was based on a precise format in which obligations were undertaken between parties in relationship to one another, whereas Soviet June document was considerably less so, and (3) Soviets were asking us to react and to make concession on concrete points of particular interest to them in circumstances where US did not even know whether common ground could be found on these decisive points or just where we stood on other matters such as freedom of passage through Suez Canal, Straits of Tiran, refugee question, etc.

3. During meeting, Sisco also said he wished to raise one broad question which he thought more fundamental than any other in determining whether common ground can be achieved: Would Soviets be willing to agree to guidelines for Jarring based on assumption of other than total withdrawal? Dobrynin said he could not reply to this question and suggested he and Sisco concentrate on concrete points they have been discussing.

Comment: Above exposition by Dobrynin represents no appreciable advance in Soviet position.7 It does contain appearance of greater oral flexibility and a few additional enticements (e.g., timing of peace, possible new formulation on negotiating procedures). Our inclination is to continue efforts smoke Dobrynin out and press for written counter language from Soviets, and, meanwhile, to show no signs of give in our position. Would appreciate Ambassador Beam’s comment on this tactic.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1186, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East Settlement—US–USSR Talks. Secret; Nodis. Drafted on April 1 by Sisco, cleared by Adolph Dubs (EUR/SOV), and approved by Sisco. Repeated to USUN.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 105.
  3. Document 58.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 53.
  5. Sisco and Dobrynin met on April 6, as reported in telegram 50459 to Moscow, April 8. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 340, Subject Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger) For Saunders’s summary and analysis of the dialogue among Dobrynin, Rogers, and Sisco during March and the first week of April, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 151.
  6. See Document 34.
  7. According to the memorandum of conversation of Kissinger’s meeting with Dobrynin on April 7, the Soviet Ambassador said that he “had come to the conclusion that talking to Sisco was getting to be a waste of time” and added that “it would be good if I [Kissinger] intervened.” See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, January 1969–October 1970, Document 150.