324. Telegram From the Interests Section in Egypt to the Department of State1

3435. Subject: Egyptian View of Peace Issue.

Summary: Foreign Office Under Secretary Fahmy in conversation he initiated December 22 said he thought UNGA resolution of De[Page 1092]cember 82 would be of more help to USG even than to GOE in period immediately ahead. He said situation has so changed in recent weeks that it is “too late” for USG only to continue to say it is available for peace discussions. In reply to a question, he seemed to be trying to leave inference that in the absence of movement on the political front, the military option might be a serious possibility.

1. Fahmy opened our December 22 conversation (which he had requested to discuss bombing in Hanoi) with discussion of state of play of ME peace questions. He expressed interest in my forthcoming visit to Washington, and confirmed I expect to have consultations as well as do some family and personal business.

2. Fahmy expounded at some length the thesis that recent UNGA resolution had been the product of long and careful consideration by the Egyptian and many other governments at the highest levels and that USG should take this into account. He expressed gratification that US had abstained on the vote, and said he thought the resolution and the whole exercise would be even more useful to USG than to GOE in stimulating movement on the political front. He did not point to any particular paragraph of the resolution nor offer detailed reasoning.

3. He also said that he did not think the USG could any longer continue to say only that it is available to assist in getting discussions under way. I pressed several times for a reason but Fahmy confined himself to repeating the point and deferring an explanation until I return. He persisted even when I said it would be more useful to know now.

4. I recalled that several weeks ago he had said that he recognized the next move is up to Egypt and asked whether he was now saying something else. He said yes, the situation has changed. So I asked whether I could be clear that GOE is still interested in a political settlement and he again temporized; he said the political possibility is up to the USG.

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5. Conversation trailed off into pleasantries.

6. Italian Ambassador Plaja has come in to say that he gets from conversations with both Zayyat and Fahmy in last few days that they are much interested in my visit to Washington; they have even asked Plaja what I am going for and he has told them what I have said. Plaja has little to add to the substance of the matter except that on UNGA resolution he has found the Egyptians concentrating their attention on para 8. Plaja himself thinks that para 6 on nonannexation by force will in the long run be more useful. (This puts this point in somewhat different light than that reported Rome 7745,3 in which the Italians attribute to the Egyptians the importance of the nonannexation paragraph).

7. Department repeat as desired.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 638, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt, Vol. VIII. Secret; Exdis.
  2. The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2949 on December 8 by a roll-call vote of 86 to 7, with 31 abstentions (including the United States). The resolution reaffirmed Security Council Resolution 242 and General Assembly Resolution 2799 (see footnote 4, Document 270) and expressed the General Assembly’s deep perturbation that neither resolution had been implemented, and, thus, the previously “envisaged just and lasting peace” in the Middle East had not been achieved. The thrust of the resolution criticized Israel for its non-compliance with previous resolutions—resulting in its negative vote—particularly on the issue of the acquisition of territory by force. For a summary of the debate in the General Assembly and the text of the resolution, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1972, pp. 175–181. After the vote, Bush made a statement that begins: “We regret very much that the resolution which has just been voted constitutes precisely the kind of resolution we had so much hoped could be avoided at this Assembly. This resolution cannot render constructive assistance to the processes of diplomacy. It cannot offer encouragement to the parties to reach a peaceful accommodation of their differences.” (Department of State Bulletin, January 1, 1973, p. 27)
  3. Dated December 19. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1169, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, December 1–31, 1972)