97. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1


  • Ambassador Dobrynin’s Call on the Middle East

Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin called on me yesterday2 at his request to discuss the Middle East. He proposed a resumption of bilateral [Page 326] talks3 and indicated Soviet willingness to consider a more precise formulation on peace provided that we would indicate a willingness to consider their position that Sharm al-Shaikh would return to UAR sovereignty, that an irrevocable UN presence would be stationed there to assure freedom of passage through the Gulf of Aqaba, and that we would be willing to extend our proposal for withdrawal of Israeli forces to include Gaza.

I responded that we would study both the suggestion to resume bilateral discussions and the substantive Soviet proposals. I made it clear, however, that if we should agree to resume bilateral talks4 there would have to be an understanding of what the resumption of those talks signifies. Our willingness to resume talks could not be interpreted to mean an acceptance of the Soviet proposals or that we were willing to make concessions going beyond our present position as reflected in the October 28th and December 18th documents.5

For the time being at least, we are limiting press comment merely to confirming, in response to any inquiries, that Dobrynin called on me and that the subject discussed was the Middle East.

William P. Rogers6
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 652, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East, Vol. I. Secret; Nodis. A copy was sent to Haig.
  2. Telegram 36337 to Moscow, March 12, reported their discussion. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 141.
  3. In a March 10 meeting with Kissinger, Dobrynin told him “in confidence that he had been instructed to call on Secretary Rogers” to offer the continuation of bilateral discussions; see ibid., Document 140. Kissinger’s analysis of the Soviet offer, sent to Nixon in a memorandum of March 13, is ibid., Document 143.
  4. Bilateral talks resumed on March 25; see footnote 5, Document 105.
  5. Documents 58 and 78.
  6. Rogers initialed “WPR” above his typed signature.