254. Telegram From the Department of State to the Interests Section in Egypt1

181659. Tosec 31.

1. FYI: Mohammed Riad told Newlin in N.Y. that Foreign Minister Riad in speech to GA which scheduled for Wednesday plans to attack interim agreement.2 We have been considering how we might get to Sadat in effort to head off Foreign Minister’s taking line that could constitute serious obstacle to current negotiating efforts. Problem is somewhat delicate, because we want to avoid appearing end run Riad in way which might backfire on what we seek accomplish. Best approach in our view would be for you to seek appointment with President for Monday evening, purpose of which would be to convey, as courtesy to President, text of Middle East portion of Secretary’s address to GA Monday morning,3 together with some comments thereon. USUN will cable text of Middle East portion of Secretary’s speech as soon as it is in final form, either later Sunday or early Monday N.Y. time.4 If appointment with President not possible, we suggest you carry out exercise with Heikal, asking him to pass text and our comments to President. End FYI.

2. You should tell Sadat that Secretary’s remarks on Middle East occupy prominent place in his speech and constitute important U.S. policy statement. As President will note, Secretary reaffirms that final peace settlement remains goal of our policy, and that our position on shape of final settlement and central role of Jarring mission remains unchanged. His remarks on this occasion underscore our belief, also conveyed by Secretary to Foreign Minister at their lunch, that at this time interim agreement for opening Canal and some Israeli withdrawal is only practical and realistic way to make progress toward final peace settlement. We believe this accords with President Sadat’s own view as [Page 913] conveyed to Secretary last May.5 Our efforts in intervening months have been predicated on this understanding of President’s views.

3. Secretary told Foreign Minister on Sept 29,6 and we want to reinforce this point with President, that we do not think it is possible to achieve as part of interim settlement certain fundamental commitments which each side expects as part of final peace settlement. This means that Egypt cannot expect to get Israeli commitment for total withdrawal from Sinai in interim agreement; it also means that Israel will not be able to achieve its objective of Egyptian commitment to final termination of belligerency in form of permanent ceasefire. At same time, we want to make it equally clear that we do not see interim agreement as end of road. We envisage agreement, as Secretary told Foreign Minister, that has built-in time frame and commitment from parties for on-going negotiations toward final peace settlement. We do not think interim agreement could provide basis for long range stability that US seeks in area and which can only be provided by final peace settlement based on full implementation of SC Res 242. We envisage that following conclusion of interim agreement there would be resumption of negotiations under Jarring on final settlement.

4. We stress this connection between interim agreement and final settlement because it is key point and we sense there may be misunderstanding between our two governments about it. This may be partly problem of semantics and if so we would like to clear it up as soon as possible. We note, for example, statements by Egyptian officials to effect that Egypt rejects “partial settlement.” This term does not describe what US is seeking. We do not advocate “partial settlement.” To contrary, we envisage interim agreement as practical first step toward final peace settlement and we favor it precisely because it offers prospect of improving conditions for negotiations toward final settlement. Word “interim” to US connotes idea of something temporary, of situation existing between one phase and next phase.

5. President will note that Secretary places heavy emphasis on interim agreement as our best hope for progress. He hopes that his speech will help create momentum toward narrowing gap on this first decisive step toward peace—a step which we want to achieve this year. We hope that Egyptian position, which we assume will be fully treated in Foreign Minister’s speech on Wednesday, will also contribute to this end which we both seek and will treat interim agreement in such fashion as to add to this momentum and not close any doors. It is important for both sides to focus on what they can do for peace rather than, as has been case so often in past, what they cannot do. This posi[Page 914]tive quality of President Sadat’s proposal last February7 was precisely what made it such constructive and hopeful development against long background of negative attitudes that have characterized Arab-Israel dispute.

FYI: We leave to you whether and if so how to get across thought that, according to some stories circulating in N.Y., FonMin will attack interim agreement idea.8

6. FYI: We also want to bring to your attention fact that Egyptians in N.Y. are engaged in campaign to discredit Eban’s speech9 and in doing so misrepresenting what he said, e.g. claiming that speech shows Israel has backed off SC Res 242. On contrary we find speech helpful on certain key points. Referring to interim agreement Eban says Quote The agreement would stand on its own feet, but it would not affect or annul the undertakings which the parties gave in August 1970 to hold discussions under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices in conformity with his mandate under the Security Council Resolution 242. Unquote. Discussing benefits of interim agreement Eban says, Quote A new impetus would be given to the Jarring mission which is now in abeyance; and the undertakings which I have given refute the idea that the Canal agreement would be the last word. On the contrary, its conclusion and observance would create a favourable channel for further agreements. Unquote. Again, he says, Quote neither Egypt nor Israel would attain its final objective in this interim framework. But Egypt’s right to present its claims in the overall peace negotiations would remain intact, as would Israel’s freedom to present its own proposals and reservations. Unquote. These passages indicate Israel does not see interim agreement as end in itself but fully expects resumption Jarring negotiations and reaffirms its commitment to Res 242 under our June, 1970 initiative and Jarring’s August 7, 1970 report to SYG.10 Since we suspect Sadat will be receiving negative interpretations of Eban speech from N.Y., we are providing foregoing for what use you may be able to make of it in your discussions. End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. IV. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Cedar Plus. Drafted by Sterner and approved by Atherton. Repeated Priority to USUN for Secretary Rogers and to Tel Aviv.
  2. In his October 6 General Assembly speech, Riad announced that Egypt would reject any interim settlement that allowed Israeli forces to continue to occupy Egyptian territory. (New York Times, October 7, 1971, p. 1)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 255.
  4. Done in telegram 3116 from USUN to Cairo, October 3. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1165, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, October 1–11. 1971)
  5. See Document 227.
  6. See Document 253.
  7. See Document 203.
  8. Bergus met with Heikal at 1 p.m. on October 4 and presented a copy of the Middle East portion of Rogers’s General Assembly speech. Heikal assured Bergus that he would “get to Sadat as urgently as he could” to pass along the presentation. (Telegram 2408 from Cairo; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1165, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, October 1–11, 1971) Bergus met with Sadat on October 7; see footnote 5, Document 255.
  9. In his September 30 speech before the UN General Assembly, Eban called for Foreign Minister Riad to meet with him under the auspices of the United States to discuss an interim settlement or under the auspices of Jarring to discuss a permanent settlement. (New York Times, October 1, 1971, p. 1)
  10. See footnote 5, Document 139.