201. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan1

16548. For Ambassador Brown from Sisco.

We request you see King Hussein immediately and have a heart-to-heart talk with him regarding the current situation, taking into ac [Page 726] count that we see every sign that the King is as concerned and suspicious over present UAR policy and course of action as we are.

1. You should tell King you have been instructed to see him immediately because we need his wise counsel and advice and help. This is in the nature of a candid and frank discussion between two close friends who share common objectives and in the spirit of our recent talks in Washington.2

2. We are frankly puzzled and concerned as to present UAR policy which in our judgment could court disaster. First, after months of arduous efforts on our part we finally got the Israelis to do what the UAR asked us to do: to get a specific Israeli commitment accepting the resolution, a commitment to the principle of withdrawal, to indirect rather than direct negotiations, and a limited rather than open-ended ceasefire. Secondly, the shooting stopped and the talks began only to be broken off as a result of UAR-Soviet violations of the ceasefire-standstill which to this day continue to be inexplicable to us. In addition, contrary to our advice, the UAR embarked upon a General Assembly operation, in favor of propaganda rather than private diplomacy, which further delayed the resumption of talks and weakened our capacity to influence the Israelis. Third, after weeks of further effort we convinced the Israelis to return to talks despite the violations. We had no alternative, albeit reluctantly, but to QUOTE help rectify the situation by additional military assistance. UNQUOTE.

3. All of these efforts have finally brought the parties to a stage of indirect discussions under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices. The substantive talks have started. We do not claim any more; they only represent an initial beginning. But it is unrealistic to have expected something more in the first stages. The important point, which Cairo does not seem to realize, is that as a result of developments of past few months there is genuine reassessment of policy going on in Israel which active negotiations will further encourage. We are persuaded that Israelis for first time have made decision to negotiate seriously.

4. We are convinced, as is evidenced by the fact that the Israelis have not thrown up any new procedural proposals and have directed their two papers to the substance straight away without polemics and in terms that do not foreclose any Arab position,3 that if a serious proc-ess of negotiations can in fact proceed, free of threats or use of force, flexibility will develop and the US will be in a position to use its influ [Page 727] ence to help bring about a settlement along the lines of the October–December 1969 documents.4 In this connection, the King should know that we are standing firmly on the positions about which the US and Jordan have had a very clear understanding.

5. We are now coming very reluctantly to the view that after all of our efforts, on the assumption that it was clearly understood that our influence could only be played in the context of indirect negotiations under the auspices of Ambassador Jarring, that the UAR may not be serious about pursuing this process. Continuously in recent weeks, her principal thrust seems to be in the direction of applying pressure on us either by threatening use of force, a resort to the public forum of the Security Council or a diversionary move to the Four Powers. We cannot and will not exercise effective influence in this context. We can exercise influence, as has been demonstrated in the context of the June initiative of last year, while serious private diplomacy and serious negotiations are going on between the parties. If this process ensues, the Four simultaneously can get at question of guarantees at appropriate early stage.

6. Moreover, there are signs that the UAR does not intend to formally extend the ceasefire but rather will leave the matter in an ambiguous state. This is very dangerous. We have had quiet and intensive discussions with the UAR in recent days and have made the point that the ceasefire is as much in the UAR’s interest as it is in Israel’s interest, let alone in that of the world community. We would appreciate His Majesty’s assessment of current UAR attitude on this coupled with the fact that we have noted in recent days certain UAR actions which in our judgment have been aimed directly at Jordan.

7. The US has only one interest in the area: to bring about a political settlement that meets the legitimate concerns of both sides. The present turmoil serves the interest of the Soviet Union not the US or Jordan, and for this reason it is in our mutual interest to help bring an immediate end to it. But we cannot do this if the UAR seems more intent upon relieving itself of the hard decisions that negotiations require in hopes that some third party entity, the Security Council or the Big Four or both, can do the job for it. We do not believe this is in the UAR interest, and we feel that this course could in the long run be injurious to our good, staunch, and courageous friend King Hussein.

8. Thant and Jarring are ready to put out a report on Monday noting that a bit of progress has been made in the opening substantive [Page 728] exchanges.5 Thant also is prepared to call for the extension of the ceasefire. We feel that this public report creates the QUOTE new fact UNQUOTE which the UAR can use to justify both a continuation of the substantive talks and the extension of the ceasefire for a reasonable period, not a short, four week artificially created deadline. We hope His Majesty by whatever means, by message or even a possible trip of his own to Cairo, will try to influence our Egyptian friends to this end since we are convinced it is in the UAR interest and it will help create the conditions in which the US can play the kind of positive and helpful role it wants to play in order to bring about a just and lasting solution.

9. We realize the problem in Cairo in part is a lack of trust in us. We note also some genuine anxiety and confusion. But the Arab-Israeli dispute has proved intractable for twenty years. Little progress has been made since the end of the June war. The UAR has much to gain by giving the US a reasonable opportunity to try to help move things forward. Only the US can do this, and we must do it in our own way. UAR should realize that a solution cannot be brought about by some magic wand in a period of a day or two. Only circumstances under which UAR can hope to arrive at settlement within framework of SC Resolution and along lines of our October and December papers is if they are willing to proceed in manner which enables us to use our influence with Israel. This has to be a step-by-step process, and the UAR must engage itself in the indirect negotiation process under Jarring in a specific, point-by-point way. Serious oral exchanges through Jarring are required to supplement exchange of papers.

10. We appreciate fully, too, the UAR’s desire to have a categoric commitment from Israel to total Israeli withdrawal to the pre-June 5 lines. We believe the specifics of the GOI position on withdrawal and borders will come in genuine negotiation process under Jarring’s auspices; otherwise it will not. We believe that if the step-by-step negotiating process is pursued patiently, the US is in a position to exercise its influence and to encourage Israel towards a solution along the lines of the October-December 1969 documents. We are not sure that the UAR has grasped at what critical juncture matters presently stand. If this opportunity which exists at the present time is lost primarily as a result of UAR unwillingness to engage seriously in the central process of indirect negotiations, it is likely that the opportunity will be lost not just for a week or a month but for a very indefinite period.

11. We hope you can prevail upon the King not only to weigh in with the UAR to this end but also suggest that he send a message to SYG encouraging the SYG to go ahead and issue the kind of report that [Page 729] he is tentatively planning for Monday. We feel Hussein’s quiet encouragement to the SYG in this regard will be helpful.

12. You are also free to brief him on the substance of President Nixon’s reply to King Hassan.6

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted and approved by Sisco and cleared by Saunders. Repeated Priority to Kuwait, Jidda, Cairo, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Moscow, USUN, Beirut, Tunis, Tripoli, Rabat, Algiers, Rome, Belgrade, Bucharest, The Hague, Brussels, and USNATO.
  2. See Document 189.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 195 and footnote 5, Document 199.
  4. See Documents 58 and 78.
  5. See footnote 8, Document 199.
  6. Brown met with Hussein on January 31 to discuss the issues raised by the Department. As a result, the King “wrote out private, personal message” to Sadat that was supposed to have been sent that evening. While the message did “not relate specifically” to the Department’s concerns, which Hussein said that he shared, it was a “warning to Sadat that Jordan unwilling repeat mistakes of past (e.g., war) and that UAR had better re-examine its position.” When the meeting ended, the King communicated his and the Department’s joint concerns to Jordan’s Prime Minister, who began working on his own letter to the United Arab Republic, which he believed “should have some effect.” (Telegram 576 from Amman, January 31; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR) The exchange of letters between Nixon and King Hassan of Morocco presumably concerned the recent visit of Robert Murphy to Morocco.