70. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1


  • Four Power Talks on the Middle East

In my memorandum of November 15th,2 I recommended that we agree to an early resumption of the Four Power meetings on the Middle East. We have reassessed this recommendation in light of the following developments: (a) the temporizing Egyptian position of not responding substantively to the latest formulations in the US–USSR talks on the grounds that they are “incomplete” until positions on other aspects of the settlement are clearer; (b) the absence of any concrete Soviet reaction to the latest formulations; (c) the continued strong feelings of Hussein, Faisal and Helou that the Four Power talks resume; (d) the scheduled Arab Summit Meeting of December 20th at which Nasser can be expected to make a major effort to mobilize all possible resources on his behalf; and (e) Israel’s request of November 25 that we refrain from resuming the Four Power talks and particularly from discussing an Israeli-Jordanian settlement until Eban has an opportunity to discuss their views with me on December 9.3

Our conclusion continues to be that we resume the Four Power meetings immediately, remaining available to continue the US–USSR bilateral talks if and when the Soviets respond concretely to the October 28th working paper formulations.4 We suggest the Four Power talks resume on December 2.

In brief, the reasons for this recommendation are: (a) If we decline to resume the talks in New York, we will be taking on the onus for blocking further peace efforts, our position in the Arab world will continue to deteriorate even more rapidly, moderate Arab regimes will be [Page 232] further disillusioned and be more vulnerable to radical pressure, and the risk will be greater that the Arab summit will close the door to a political solution. (b) We have been committed to Four Power talks since February, they were interrupted in July at our initiative, and we agreed to their resumption in principle in September. The British and French have been patient largely because of our on-going efforts with the Soviet Union. In light of the present impasse between the US and the USSR, we no longer have a strong argument against early resumption of the Four. (c) The on-going Four Power meetings, even if the Four cannot agree on recommendations to Jarring, will give us a further opportunity to help improve our general position in the area. We would anticipate that the Four Powers would focus in the first instance principally on the Jordanian aspect and this would be welcomed by Hussein. We realize we will have to exert great efforts to avoid the twin pitfalls of either being isolated in the Four or being pressured to go along with a proposition on which we could not produce Israel; but the disadvantages of blocking Four Power talks are even greater.

We would also inform the Israelis that we are willing to talk about the substance of the Jordanian-Israeli aspect of the settlement or any other aspects of our Middle East policy either with Ambassador Rabin right away and/or with Eban when he arrives in the United States on the 9th of December. In order to assure them that we will take into account fully their substantive views, we will indicate our intention not to submit any substantive American proposals on the Jordanian-Israeli aspect until I have had my conversation with Eban. Moreover, we will want also to consult fully with Hussein who has long been anxious for the United States to play a leading role on the Jordanian-Israeli aspect along the lines of your discussions with him in April.

William P. Rogers 5
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 650, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Negotiations. Secret; Nodis. Attached to a November 28 memorandum from Haig to Saunders that reads: “To keep our bureaucratic skirts clean, we ought to send an info memo to the President on where the subject now stands, with the Secretary’s memorandum to him tabbed in.” On Haig’s memorandum, Saunders wrote by hand: “This was later handled orally with President. No further action.”
  2. Rogers’s memorandum of November 16 is Document 67.
  3. Eban did not meet with Rogers until December 16, after a meeting that day with Kissinger. See Document 77 and footnote 2 thereto. Richardson also discussed the proposal for a Jordanian settlement and the Rogers Plan with Rabin on December 19; see Document 78.
  4. Document 58.
  5. Rogers initialed “WPR” above his typed signature.