83. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

4992. Personal for Ambassador Yost from Secretary.

1. I am convinced that, as a result of position taken in December 9 policy statement2 and October 28 and December 18 guideline documents,3 we are now in strongest possible position to stand firmly. We have adopted a position which meets legitimate concerns of both sides, and beyond which we cannot go in any substantial way.

2. I appreciate tactical difficulties which confront you in Four Power talks. I am sure you would agree that tactical difficulties that confront us in Four Powers should not in any way cause us to alter course laid down in October 28th and December 18th documents. It is now up to Soviets and Nasser to decide whether they wish to grasp opportunity which this U.S. position affords.

3. I have given very considerable thought and have discussed with President how we wish you to proceed in Four Power talks as you personally renew your efforts on Tuesday.4 We note that our UK friends [Page 273] seem to be all right for time being and are willing to stay with us on basis of our documents at least until Wilson has had a talk with President later this month.5 We note also continuing unwillingness of French to stand with us and Soviet strategy has now become clear; namely, to fall in with French proposals6 and thereby attempt to chip away at U.S. position. We cannot agree with Soviet-French approach which leads immediately to process of marrying various proposals.

4. Fact that at one time or another all of parties in area and major powers have agreed to Rhodes formula7 provides us with opportunity to prevent this risky Soviet-French gambit from succeeding. At your Tuesday meeting, therefore, I wish you to make clear and to insist that there be agreement in first instance on Rhodes formula. You should make clear that our substantive views regarding framework for Jarring’s guidance are laid down in October 28th–December 18th documents, and we cannot agree to any substantial alteration. We would like you also to get across the idea that unless early agreement on Rhodes procedure and specific elements of our peace language can be achieved, it is difficult to see how progress can be made towards a Four Power consensus that will start negotiating process between parties. Gromyko agreed to this proposal in his talks with me at UN;8 I do not believe we should let Russians or Egyptians get off hook.

5. I realize that position you are being asked to take in Four Powers causes some tactical difficulties; however, alternative is moving down slippery slope which Soviet and French are pursuing which would very soon face us with agreeing to propositions on which there is absolutely no chance of getting Israeli acquiescence. Despite present strong Israeli opposition, we do not preclude possibility Israel can be brought to engage in Rhodes-type discussions on basis our two documents; anything beyond this would be impossible for them.

6. If Four Powers are to reach an impasse, as is probable in our judgment, it is better from point of view of our overall interests for impasse to be on basis of forthcoming, constructive and positive position that is reflected in October 28th, December 9th, and December 18th US statements rather than in circumstances where other three had reached near agreement on alternative proposal.9

7. I have cleared this message with President.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Nodis. Drafted on January 9 by Sisco, cleared by De Palma and Kissinger, and approved by Rogers.
  2. See Document 73.
  3. Document 58 and footnote 5, Document 76.
  4. January 13.
  5. The President met with Harold Wilson and others in both the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room on January 27 and 28. See footnote 3, Document 89.
  6. See Document 75.
  7. See footnote 3, Document 52.
  8. See Document 53.
  9. At the Four-Power meeting on January 13, Yost made a “strong and lengthy presentation” based on Rogers’s instructions. During the meeting, the French Representative presented a nine-point plan to produce guidelines to aid Jarring in his effort to negotiate a settlement between Israel andEgypt and Jordan. (Telegram 51 from USUN, January 15; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR)