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

188739. Bergus from Secretary. Ref: Cairo 2483.2

1. We want to check further Sadat’s interest in our proposal for more proximate and expeditious negotiating procedure and at same time obtain early indication whether Sadat’s Moscow visit3 has altered in any way receptive attitude apparent in your conversations with him and Ismail. We also want to get it across to him that we cannot get further into specifics of our ideas at this stage, since this is what the negotiations are all about, and for us to do this would undermine those negotiations. We want to persuade Sadat to signify his willingness to go ahead with procedures we have in mind without further insistence, at this time, for specifics on our ideas on other issues involved in interim agreement. We think there is reasonable chance Sadat can agree to this.

2. You should therefore seek appointment with Sadat as soon after his return from Moscow as possible. We assume Egyptians will expect same procedure to be followed whereby you sketch out your approach beforehand to Ismail. In doing so you should underline importance USG is attaching to this phase of our efforts and desirability of your meeting personally with President to make sure we have full flavor of his views. You should convey following points to Sadat.

3. We appreciate President’s latest response conveyed to us through Ismail.4 We welcome his statement that he can accept as point of departure for discussion ideas we outlined concerning manner in [Page 926] which relationship of interim agreement to final peace settlement, and question of ceasefire, could be handled. We also welcome his indication that he views favorably idea of proceeding in near future to more proximate and expeditious negotiating procedure.

4. We note that President, in latest message conveyed to us through Ismail, said that he is awaiting our specific ideas on other aspects of interim agreement before making final decision to name Egyptian negotiator with mandate to intensified talks. In our recent exchanges in Cairo (including message contained State 1862565 conveyed by you through Ismail Oct 9 subsequent to receiving Sadat’s message in Cairo’s 2483), in Secretary’s speech to UNGA, and also in Secretary’s two meetings with Foreign Minister Riad,6 we have endeavored to convey to Egyptians more specifically our concept of interim agreement. We have also given President Sadat our specific ideas on central issue (para 3 above) involved in interim agreement. From all of this we think it must now be clear to Egyptians where we stand on point of most concern to them—that interim agreement is first step toward final peace settlement and must not become new armistice. We cannot go further at this time in terms of delineating our specific ideas without jeopardizing negotiating process which in our view is only way of making process toward agreement. Purpose of negotiating process we have in mind is in fact to assist two sides in coming to grips with those specifics President Sadat has in mind.

5. We also want to emphasize that as negotiations proceed, US as middleman will obviously be intimately and continuously involved in negotiations. As Secretary Rogers told Foreign Minister Riad at their second meeting, US does not intend to play mere mailman role. We will also try to act as catalyst by putting forward constructive ideas and conveying frankly to each side our assessment of what is within bounds of acceptability to other side. From our exchanges in spring and summer we have good idea of concerns and needs of both sides and therefore of parameters of possible agreement.

6. We hope, therefore, that President Sadat can agree to appointing representative with broad mandate in substance and procedure to facilitate intensified negotiating process we envisage for reaching interim agreement. If he is ready in principle to do this, we would anticipate coming back to him in near future with suggestions for a specific place and date for negotiations in close proximity.

7. We have in mind active and intensive negotiations. If fact that these are under way leaks to press, which will probably happen sooner [Page 927] or later, we would say, as indicated in our last message to President Sadat, that this is merely intensification of present procedures.7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. IV. Secret; Priority; Nodis; Cedar Plus. Drafted by Sterner; cleared by Sisco, Davies, and Atherton; and approved by Rogers. Repeated to Tel Aviv and USUN.
  2. In telegram 2483 from Cairo, October 9, Bergus reported his meeting with Ismail that afternoon, during which Ismail conveyed this message from Sadat to Rogers: “In reply to the message you conveyed to me on October 8, 1971, respecting the nature of the commitment between parties towards efforts under Dr. Jarring’s auspices to reach a final settlement and the time needed to make this effort. While the ideas by the State Department do not clear the doubts and concerns of the President concerning an indefinite occupation of Sinai or a final agreement about the Arab territories, he considers that they represent a point of departure for an exchange of views and discussions which he hopes will be fruitful. Therefore, he expects in a short time and in a specific way to receive the elaboration (clarification) of the other points contained in the Secretary’s speech of October 4, 1971, so that a decision may be taken to nominate an Egyptian representative with a mandate.” (Ibid.) For the message that Bergus presented on October 8, see Document 254 and footnote 2, Document 255.
  3. See footnote 10, Document 256.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 255.
  5. Not found.
  6. See footnote 4, Document 255 and footnote 5, Document 257.
  7. Bergus met with Ismail at 6:30 p.m. on October 15 and told him that he had an important message to convey to Sadat. He then presented the points contained in paragraphs 3–7 of this telegram. Speaking personally, Ismail told Bergus that he was “not happy with process whereby Egypt continually said ‘yes, yes’ and subsequently found itself in the air.” He added that he feared that if Egypt blindly followed the procedure that Rogers had outlined, it would “soon find itself beset by further preconditions.” Furthermore, he maintained that Egypt could not reply to Rogers’s message until Sadat and his advisers learned the results of U.S. discussions with Israel, at least on the twin issues of linking the interim agreement to an overall settlement and the cease-fire. (Telegram 2538 from Cairo, October 15; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. IV)