50. Memorandum of Conversation1



  • SYG Dinner for Four FonMins and PermReps


  • U.S.
  • Secretary Rogers
  • Ambassador Yost
  • Dr. Ralph Bunche
  • SYG Thant
  • Mr. Phillippe de Seynes
  • Mr. Leonid N. Kutakov
  • Mr. Andrew Stark
  • Mr. C.V. Narasimhan
  • FonMin Schumann
  • Ambassador Berard
  • FonMin Gromyko
  • Ambassador Malik
  • FonMin Stewart
  • Lord Caradon

After dinner the SYG suggested there be a discussion of the Middle East. He said the situation is deteriorating seriously. He referred to the responsibilities of the Security Council and particularly the four Permanent Members and asked what could be done.

Mr. Gromyko said that the key to a solution was withdrawal of Israeli forces from all occupied territory. On the other hand, all were agreed that a solution must be a package embracing all parts of the Security Council resolution. Negotiations should go forward in all fora, Two-Power, Four-Power, etc.

Secretary Rogers agreed that the solution must be a package and that negotiations might go forward in all fora. He suggested, however, that the Four await progress in current talks between the Two, perhaps for another ten days or two weeks.

Stewart said duty to find a solution rests with the United Nations, the Security Council and Permanent Members because the parties are so caught up in mutual hate that they can’t make peace. Two-Power and Four-Power negotiations can go on concurrently and each can be in touch with the parties. Someone—whether 4, 3, 2 or 1—must define what the terms of the resolution mean. All four must be impartial. The [Page 175] parties won’t like what they propose but might just accept it as better than the present and prospective situation. If some of the Four won’t accept what the Arabs won’t, and some won’t accept what Israel won’t, no progress will be made. Let the US and USSR proceed for the moment with their bilaterals but at some point the UK and France must play a part. There has to be withdrawal and Israel has not yet stated its position on this with sufficient clarity. But the Arabs also must move away from their Khartoum position of no negotiations and no peace treaty.2

Schumann said he thought France had been right in proposing Four-Power talks. There is no hope of direct negotiations taking place until an outline of a settlement has been laid out. Bilaterals have been useful and helped bridge the gap but within a reasonable time—say two weeks—the Four should resume. The Four can speak more impartially, be no one’s advocate but advocate for all. Direct negotiations can come after the way has been paved. The Four should resume by mid-October.3

Secretary Rogers agreed that the Four might resume at that time but pointed out that the Two could also continue, both proceeding simultaneously.

The SYG said it seemed clear there was no disagreement. The Two would continue and the Four would resume about mid-October irrespective of where the Two had got by that time.

He pointed out that the Arab replies to Jarring had superseded the Khartoum declaration.4 They had recognized Israeli right to exist. He felt Israel should agree to withdraw when the Arabs make a binding commitment to secure and recognized boundaries and to the other provisions of the Security Council Resolution.

He remarked that the world’s eyes are on the United Nations and particularly on the Foreign Ministers and it would be reassuring if they would this evening reiterate the substantive parts of the initial April 3 statement of the Four Permanent Representatives.5 He read the statement and it was briefly discussed.

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Gromyko said all agree that the resolution must be carried out. Seven or eight of its provisions have to be more fully defined. Withdrawal will begin only after full agreement is reached. There must be a durable peace. All states in the area must exist as sovereign, independent states. These are the basic principles.

It was agreed that a statement would be issued based on the April 3 communiqué and reflecting these principles. The SYG suggested referring to resumption of the Four-Power talks, but vaguer wording was preferred. Copy of the statement as released to the press is attached.6

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Middle East.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1170, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiation Files, Middle East Settlement—US–USSR Talks. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Yost on September 23. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted by the editors. The dinner meeting was held in the Secretary General’s suite at the United Nations.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 18.
  3. The Four Powers did not meet until December 2. See Document 72.
  4. See Document 12.
  5. The statement issued at the conclusion of the first meeting on April 3 reads in part: “The Four Powers are agreed that the situation in the Middle East is serious and urgent and must not be permitted to jeopardize international peace and security. They have straight away entered into a discussion on matters of substance and have started defining areas of agreement. There is a common concern to make urgent progress. The Secretary General of the United Nations will be kept fully informed. Active consultations will continue. These consultations will be private and confidential. All appropriate contacts with the parties primarily concerned will be maintained.” (Department of State Bulletin, April 21, 1969, p. 337)
  6. Attached but not printed. The statement in footnote 5 above was published in the New York Times on April 4.