28. Editorial Note

Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco met with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin on May 6, 8, and 12, 1969, to present—in a “piecemeal fashion”—elements of a “joint preliminary document” that the United States and the Soviet Union could offer to the United Arab Republic and Israel to use as the basis for a new round of negotiations under Gunnar Jarring. At the May 6 meeting, Sisco unveiled points 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 of the proposed document, which covered peace and the end of belligerency, the obligations that both sides needed to undertake to resolve future disputes peacefully, and the responsibility of the Arab states to control Palestinian guerrillas. While Sisco invited comments and contributions, both written and oral, Dobrynin said that he would wait for Moscow’s reaction before he delivered the official Soviet response. He added that the Soviet leadership would not offer much of substance until Sisco revealed the remainder of the U.S. proposal. (Telegram 71012 to Moscow and USUN, May 7; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 653, Country Files, Middle East, Sisco Middle East Talks) At their May 8 session, Sisco discussed points 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13, which dealt with refugees, the parties’ acknowledgement of each other’s sovereignty, the guarantees of each other’s territorial integrity, reciprocal assurances on freedom of naviga[Page 97]tion, and implementation of the final accord. The Assistant Secretary also stressed “several times” that the success or failure of their efforts would “depend in large measure” on the Soviet Union’s willingness to obtain concessions from the United Arab Republic. (Telegram 72809 to Moscow and USUN, May 8; ibid.) Sisco finished unveiling the draft proposal on May 12, presenting points 4, 5, 10, and the preamble, which covered some of the thorniest issues, including boundaries, the status of Gaza, withdrawal, demilitarization, and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. (Telegram 75822 to Moscow and USUN, May 13; ibid.)

Sisco and Dobrynin had two follow-up meetings on May 19 and 21 to clarify what had been discussed previously. On May 19, Dobrynin called on Sisco to ask how the United States planned to handle the Jordanian aspect of an overall settlement, given that their talks had focused only on the United Arab Republic. The Assistant Secretary responded that the United States believed that progress on the UAR side could have a positive influence on the Jordanian side, understanding that implementation of an agreement between Israel and the United Arab Republic depended on an Israel’s reaching an agreement with Jordan. Dobrynin also asked about the Nixon administration’s departure from positions taken by previous Secretary of State Dean Rusk in his meetings with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. Sisco replied that he would have to review the record of the Rusk-Gromyko conversation. (Telegram 79805 to Moscow, May 20; ibid.) Two days later, Dobrynin raised the issue of the Rusk-Gromyko dialogue again and said that the current U.S. proposal “fell short” of what had been discussed in 1968, including: 1) that Israel should withdraw to the internationally recognized boundary between it and the United Arab Republic; 2) that both sides of the border should be demilitarized—which meant that the demilitarization of the Negev was a possibility, rather than the whole of the Sinai alone; 3) that Sharm el-Sheikh would contain a UN presence, not an Israeli one; and 4) that the signing procedure would involve Jarring taking the final agreement to one party and then the other for signature. Sisco remarked that after having quickly reviewed the record of Rusk-Gromyko conversation, he “found no deviation in principle between ‘proposals’ currently discussed and ‘views,’ which may have been discussed generally in various conversations.” He then explained, point-by-point, why this was the case. They both agreed that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union should be “caught in a box” or “inhibited” by their “respective clients.” While Sisco pressed Dobrynin to elicit a response from Moscow as soon as possible, Dobrynin said that “consultations would take time.” (Telegram 80620 to Moscow; ibid.) The record of Gromyko’s meeting with Rusk on October 6, 1968, in New York is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1967–1968, Document 274.

A copy of the U.S. draft proposal is attached as Tab B to a memorandum from Saunders to Kissinger, December 31. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Box 710, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. VI) The final version of the proposal, which Sisco presented to Dobrynin in Washington on October 28—and which became known as the Rogers Plan—is printed as Document 58.