85. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

10865. Subject: US Reply to Soviet Statement of December 23 on Middle East.2

1. Text of oral statement made on Jan 22 by Assistant Secretary Sisco to Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin follows. British, French, and Israeli Embassies provided with Sisco’s oral statement January 22 (septels). Jordanian Amb will be briefed Monday pm.

2. Begin text.

Oral reply to Soviet oral comment of December 23, 1969

The US Government has studied carefully the oral statement delivered by Ambassador Dobrynin to the Secretary of State on December 23, 1969.

As the Soviet Government is aware, the proposals we developed and suggested to Soviet representatives over a period of many weeks, most recently on October 28, 1969,3 were designed to provide a framework for Ambassador Jarring’s guidance with respect to the UAR-Israeli aspect of a settlement, to be paralleled by proposals for the Jordanian-Israeli aspect which we subsequently submitted in the Four Power talks in New York on December 18, 1969.4 The formulations of October 28, in the form of a proposed joint US–USSR working paper, drew upon elements of both the Soviet document of June 17, 1969 and the US document of July 15, 1969 and were intended to reflect common positions.5 As such, they represented a serious attempt on our part to meet both Soviet and US views on certain fundamental issues. We reject the Soviet allegation that our position as reflected in the proposed October 28 joint US–USSR working paper is one-sided. It is a fair and balanced document which meets the legitimate concerns of both sides.

There is need for negotiations between the parties to begin promptly under Jarring’s auspices. The October 28 and December 18 [Page 277] documents deal with the key issues of pace, withdrawal and negotiations to reach the agreement called for in the UN Security Council resolution of November 1967. These two documents provide an equitable framework which would enable Ambassador Jarring to convene the parties immediately and get on with his task of promoting the just and lasting peace called for by the Security Council resolution. In this connection, the Soviet contention that the US has now proposed to limit itself to “neutral formulas alone” is without foundation.

The Soviet oral response of December 23 and the position being taken by the Soviet representative in the Four Power talks on the Jordanian-Israeli aspect are not constructive, are delaying the prompt resumption of the Jarring mission and have raised doubt in this government as to the Soviet desire for a stable and durable peace in the Middle East. We see no significant difference between the present Soviet position and the position stated in the Soviet proposals of December 19686 and June 1969.

We do not believe it is useful to comment on every point in the Soviet response of December 23 since the US position and the reasons for it have been fully explained to Soviet representatives on many occasions in the past. We do wish, however, to draw to the attention of the Soviet Government the following:

We note that the Soviet Government no longer supports the provision for negotiations between the parties under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices according to the procedures the parties utilized at Rhodes in 1949. This retrogression in the Soviet position is particularly regrettable, since the formulation on this point contained in the October 28 wording was worked out jointly by Asst. Secy. Sisco and Ambassador Dobrynin following the understanding reached by Secretary of State Rogers and Foreign Minister Gromyko during their talks at the UN.7 Resolution 242 calls upon Ambassador Jarring to promote agreement. In the context of the resolution this clearly means agreement between the parties concerned which can only be achieved through a process of negotiations—a view which the Soviet Government indicated it shared in accepting on a contingent basis the Rhodes negotiating procedure in the proposed October 28 joint document.

The Soviet response of December 23 misrepresents the US position on the question of withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from UAR occupied territory, implying that our position does not envisage such withdrawal when in fact our proposal makes clear that withdrawal should be to the former international boundary once the parties have agreed [Page 278] upon their commitments to a contractual peace and have negotiated between them under Jarring’s auspices the practical arrangements to make that peace secure.

The Soviet reply is completely unresponsive to our suggestions, on which we have placed particular stress from the start, for language to give specific content to the parties’ commitments to the just and lasting peace. We note, in particular, that the Soviets have linked withdrawal not with the establishment of peace between the parties but with “cessation of the state of war.” The USSR will recall that the Security Council resolution is very specific: its principal objective is the establishment of a just and lasting peace between the parties. Does the Soviet Union agree with the specific formulations on peace contained in the suggested October 28 joint paper? A clear, and not evasive, response is required.

The US Government believes the Soviet Union should reconsider its views in light of these observations. End text.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1186, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East Settlement—US–USSR Talks. Secret; Exdis; Priority. Drafted by Walter B. Smith (NEA/IAI), cleared in EUR/SOV, and approved by Sisco. Repeated to Amman, Cairo, Beirut, London, Paris, Tel Aviv, USUN, Kuwait, Jidda, Nicosia, Belgrade, Algiers, Khartoum, Rabat, Tripoli, and Tunis.
  2. See Document 80.
  3. See Document 61.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 76.
  5. Regarding the June 17 and July 15 papers, see Document 34 and footnote 4, Document 39, respectively.
  6. See Document 1.
  7. See Document 53.