165. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the British Ambassador (Cromer)1
C: Ah, look, have you got anything from Dobrynin?
K: Yes, I’ve had a word with Dobrynin. And he says this, he said your information is correct, but irrelevant.2
C: What does he mean by that?
K: He means that, he asked me to say that they had no right to say flatly that the Egyptians will accept it, but they do say that if you put it forward on the assumption that the Egyptians will accept it it would be a very good gamble.3
C: A very good gamble?
K: Yeah. But what he was really trying to tell me is, now I know the Israeli attitude which will be yes, but. They may raise one or two . . .
C: Well, yes, we’ve been explaining this to our Ambassador in Tel Aviv. I certainly didn’t tell him what was going on, but he had seen the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kidron earlier in the day. And they were just playing hard to get. They said, of course, they were under great pressure from the military as they were expected to be. They should go through with it.
K: What you people have to assume is that we wouldn’t ask you to do this if we didn’t think there was a reasonable possibility.
C: No, no, no, that I take 100 percent. I mean there’s no problem with that at all. We have to take a little bit. I don’t mean this with any mistrust of your information.[Page 456]
K: No, no, it’s entirely up to you. I’m just giving you the answers I receive.
C: Yes, sure. When you say the information is correct but irrelevant, I’m a little bit perplexed by that.
K: They seemed to be convinced that the Egyptians do not want to be in the position of, they do not want to . . .
C: They do not want to be . . .
K: They do not want to be in the position of having asked for it. But they apparently would accept it if the Security Council passed it without their indicating that they wanted it.
C: Yes. Imposed by the Security Council. I mean, without their asking for it.
K: That is correct.
C: I get the sense of that and they wouldn’t come out in refutation of it in other words, obviously. I mean they might make a bad public demonstration but in reality they wouldn’t.
K: Eventually they will accept it.
C: You still feel this is right Henry, don’t you?
K: I would not have . . .
C: I mean in your own judgment.
K: My own judgment is that it is the right thing to do. I believe it is the way to peace or at least a good gamble on it and I think it would be a useful role to play and the reason we have asked you is because we thought you were the most trustworthy of the members of the Security Council.
C: I thank you Sir.
K: No, I am serious.
C: But, no, I take that in all seriousness too.
K: We have no interest in playing games with this.
C: I realize that now but there will be a pretty difficult balance, you will see. The balance on the issues and the balance on the timing and the timing on the ground is something that is really going to be the decision isn’t it. That neither party on the ground wants to take it any further.
K: My judgment is . . . I’ve had very extensive conversations with the Israelis. They are aware of this scenario. They authorized me to trigger it.4 They did not say they would accept it.
C: No, they wouldn’t.
K: But they wouldn’t.[Page 457]
C: Naturally not.
K: But I would obviously not move if I thought this would get us into a total confrontation with the Israelis.
C: But I have from our people in Tel Aviv from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from Kidron, is that they would be prepared to look at it unless they could do some sort of trade between the North and the South.
K: First of all . . .
C: This is generalistic.
K: First of all Rollie I don’t believe that the Ministry would know it as well as the Prime Minister with whom I am in close contact almost 3 or 4 times a day. Secondly, I don’t want to mislead you. I’m not saying that the Israelis are in fact going to accept it but we believe it may start a negotiation.
C: I think that’s right. In reading this telegram from Tel Aviv of what the Ministry said it is what you expect a Ministry official to say.
K: Especially a Ministry official who to my certain knowledge, since the Foreign Minister isn’t being kept fully informed, the Ministry isn’t.
C: It’s a democratic answer again. That I agree with. Alright Henry, let me get back to London on this.
K: Let me see whether I can find the piece of paper from the Soviets that I can read to you and I’ll call you right back.5
C: Alright. Fine Henry.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23. No classification marking.↩
- At 7:45 p.m., Dobrynin had handed Kissinger two notes from the Soviet leadership. The first protested U.S. military assistance to Israel and mentioned reports that in addition to bombs, missiles, planes, and tanks, 150 U.S. pilots were going to Israel as “tourists.” The second note charged Israel with “gangster-type” and “barbaric” actions of attacking civilian population centers in Syria and Egypt and killing innocent civilians including Soviet citizens. (Ibid., NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 19, July 13–October 11, 1973)↩
- In an 8:15 p.m. conversation earlier that evening, Cromer told Kissinger that the British impression was that Egypt would only be interested in a cease-fire resolution if they were to regain their 1967 position under its terms. Kissinger agreed that that would be their formal position, but said he thought they would accept a British-sponsored cease-fire. Cromer said he was seeking some ideas on Sadat’s thinking from the British Ambassador in Egypt. Kissinger said he would discuss this with Dobrynin and get back to him. (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23)↩
- See Document 164.↩
- At 9:43 p.m., Kissinger called Cromer back and read to him the language of the October 10 Soviet message from Brezhnev offering to abstain during a Security Council vote on a cease-fire resolution ( Document 149).↩