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

137986. For Greene from Secretary. Subject: Response to Ghalib’s Five Questions. Ref: Cairo 2054.2

1. You should seek appointment with FonMin Ghalib for purpose of responding to his “five questions” (reftel).

2. FYI: We wish to avoid giving Egyptians impression we are inclined to rush in with new diplomatic initiative. Given continued divergence of views between parties directly concerned, we see no evidence that mechanisms such as Four Powers, US-Soviet talks, or four or five power statements would work any better now than before, and we do not favor any such moves. While we are not optimistic re Jarring reactivation, we are continuing to take line that we would welcome any progress he could achieve we believe “proximity talks” on interim Canal agreement continue to offer most practical approach. In this latter connection, Israel wants us to continue to stress importance of in [Page 1031] terim Canal talks under US aegis paralleling emphasis given to this in PM Meir’s speeches.3 End FYI.

3. Begin talking points:

(A) We appreciate FonMin Ghalib’s frank comments conveyed at your last meeting on July 20 on his view that the situation has acquired new momentum. We also understand GOE’s particular interest in knowing the attitude of USG regarding the coming period. We have studied FonMin’s questions, and wish to deal with them in a spirit of sincerity and desire for a productive exchange of opinion.

(B) We especially wish to stress one fundamental aspect of US policy on the question of peace in the Middle East. We do not believe that a solution of the conflict can be devised by external parties. The experience we have acquired over the past several years has only reinforced this view, along with our further belief that progress toward a settlement can only be made through a genuine negotiating process, in which the parties directly involved in this dispute take an active diplomatic role in coping with their differences. We are not suggesting that talks at outset start face to face, but as Secretary has recently noted in public statements, ME is only area where meaningful negotiations not in train. FYI (you should draw as appropriate on what Secretary has said in this regard, pointing to talks on such problems as Vietnam, Indo-Pak, Berlin, etc).

(C) We do not claim that the concept of “proximity talks” without preconditions on an interim Suez Canal agreement is the only way to begin negotiations towards a final settlement but of proposals now on table we feel this most feasible. We are not pressing the GOE on “proximity talks” but hope that in the fullness of time such a concept will be recognized as a way to begin moving along the difficult road to peace. We remain available, as we have repeatedly stated, to play a role in this process if Egypt desires us to do so. As Egypt knows, Israel accepted the proposal of proximity talks without preconditions last February.4 In this connection, we know one of Egypt’s principal concerns has been that any interim agreement not become final settlement. We hope PM Meir’s stress in her speech that such an interim agreement would be temporary has been noted in Cairo.

(D) We want to dispel the notion that resolution of the Middle East conflict is of greater importance to the United States than it is to the parties directly involved. We do not agree that our position on need for negotiations favors one side against the other. We see Egypt’s bar [Page 1032] gaining position as one of equality. Egypt can offer Israel what it most wants: Long-term security and acceptance as a Middle Eastern state. We do not view entering negotiations as a “concession” on the part of Egypt. We would not claim that negotiations would be painless. Both sides would have to expect to make difficult decisions. We are speaking frankly because we do not wish to be thought to be attempting to mislead any of the parties.

(E) We note Jarring plans shortly to resume his activity. As we have previously informed GOE, if Jarring can bridge the fundamental chasm that exists between the parties, we would welcome such a success. We see no need for UN resolutions or four or five power declarations at this point in support of Jarring Mission. As Egypt knows, impasse presently exists—with Egypt insisting that mandate for Jarring include his February 1971 memo and GA resolution of December 19715 whereas Israel insists that Jarring’s mandate rests solely on SC Resolution 242. We doubt this chasm can be bridged at this time, and for this reason feel step-by-step approach envisaged on an interim Suez Canal agreement is most pragmatic way to proceed.

(F) Our previous experience with US-Soviet talks and discussions within the Four Power framework does not lead us to believe that these forums can contribute to starting up negotiations between the parties under present circumstances. We wish again to emphasize that, in our view, negotiations between the parties are the key to a settlement.

(G) Secretary Rogers will be in NY for UNGA and looks forward to meeting FonMin Ghalib at that time and discussing Middle East situation with him.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. V. Secret; Priority; Nodis; Cedar Double Plus. Drafted by Anderson; cleared by Kissinger, Sisco, and Atherton; and approved by Rogers.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 298.
  3. For the text of Meir’s July 26 speech to the Knesset, see Israel’s Foreign Policy: Historical Documents, volumes 1–2: 1947–1974, Chapter XII, The War of Attrition and the Cease Fire, Document 38.
  4. See Document 276.
  5. See, respectively, footnote 2, Document 205 and footnote 4, Document 270.
  6. Greene met with Ghaleb on August 3, presenting the Department’s response to his five questions, as instructed. Ghaleb asked him if his presentation meant that the United States was “moving away from SC Resolution 242,” to which Greene responded that “it did not mean that at all.” Finally, the Egyptian Foreign Minister commented that a major impediment to an agreement between Egypt and Israel was their “widely different” conceptions of peace. (Telegram 2170 from Cairo, August 4; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. V)