49. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

3084. Dept pass Amman, Cairo, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Moscow.

1. Sisco met with Dobrynin for three hours afternoon of September 18. Discussion was in many respects frankest since bilateral talks began and focused primarily on exploring and defining key Middle East [Page 172] issues for Secretary-Gromyko meeting September 22. Following are summary impressions (detailed report by septel):2

A. After Sisco pressed Dobrynin hard and in detail, we believe Soviets are now largely ready to buy our language on commitment to peace and non-belligerency (point 3 of US proposal)3 with important exception of explicit Arab commitment contained in this paragraph to control fedayeen. They will probably press, however, for some consolidation of language contained in points 3 and 12 of our July counterproposal.

B. On Arab commitment to eventual direct negotiations, Sisco described it in flexible terms. He stressed need for Soviets to accept last preambular para of our proposal. Dobrynin maintained position stated by Gromyko in Moscow—i.e., that this question difficult and should not be raised now. While Dobrynin revealed no give on direct negotiations, we have impression this is not closed question with Soviets.

C. On refugees, Soviets also seem to be leaving room for maneuver with respect to our proposal. Dobrynin specifically asked for indication of numbers US has in mind for repatriation under annual quota.

D. On security arrangements, Sisco explained our attempt to keep all options open for the parties themselves to work out in presence of Jarring. Sisco described present position of parties on security arrangements for Sharm el-Shaikh as irreconcilable. While Dobrynin understood clearly our desire for a neutral formulation which kept all options open, he categorically rejected concept of Israeli presence at Sharm el-Shaikh and stood firmly on Soviet proposal for UN presence. He was more explicit than before, however, in emphasizing that Israeli-UAR agreement could provide that UN force could only be removed within specified time period with approval of Security Council. He was flexible on time period that such force would be expected to stay.

E. On withdrawal and boundaries, Dobrynin made lengthy plea for US to state explicitly that there should be no changes in pre-June 5 UAR-Israeli line. He argued that Soviets had impression this was real US position in any case and US refusal say so explicitly only raised suspicions and made Soviet job of getting UAR agreement on other points more difficult.

2. After getting some flexibility from Dobrynin on peace commitment, Sisco reemphasized that we saw Arab commitment to direct negotiations at some stage as key to further movement, while making clear our formula is designed to give Jarring maximum flexibility in de[Page 173]termining timing and how negotiations conducted. Sisco also stressed our view that Soviets must face up to need to get out in front of Cairo, as we are out in front of Israelis, if our talks are to progress. In this connection, he made point obliquely that he assumed USSR would agree that bilateral talks should continue as long as there is hope for progress, but talk for sake of talk would not facilitate, but might impede future settlement since parties might feel able to avoid facing up to their responsibilities to make tough decisions required for a settlement. Dobrynin agreed.

3. Brief review of situation on ground in Middle East, Sisco said we were counselling restraint on both sides. Nevertheless, objective fact was that Israelis would not be passive in face of UAR war-of-attrition policy, and situation could get out of hand to UAR detriment if that policy not changed.

4. Sisco and Dobrynin tentatively agreed to meet again morning September 22, (Begin underline) inter alia (End underline) for Sisco to provide further responses to some of Semenov’s commentary to Ambassador Beam on our July counterproposal, before Secretary-Gromyko meeting.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1170, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East Settlement—US–USSR Talks. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Saunders sent this telegram to Kissinger under cover of a September 19 memorandum. (Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 80)
  2. Telegram 3090 from USUN, September 19. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1170, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East Settlement—US–USSR Talks)
  3. See footnote 4, Document 39.