[Page 1129]

400. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 55. 1. For your background, I have just completed more than six hours of discussions with Mrs. Meir, Allon, Sapir, Eban, Dayan and other colleagues.2 Mrs. Meir called Cabinet into session at 1:00 a.m. Monday,3 and Cabinet approved action described below.

2. Please tell Dobrynin immediately that the Israelis have agreed to the text of the letter in paragraph 5 below, to which President Sadat had previously agreed.

3. Please ask Dobrynin to have the Soviet Ambassador in Syria present the letter to the Syrian Government and seek Syrian agreement December 17. Remind Dobrynin that Asad told me that any text agreeable to Sadat would be agreeable to him.

4. In addition, please point out to Dobrynin that Brezhnev gave us his word of honor that the prisoners would be released shortly after the ceasefire.4 If Soviet promises are to mean anything, it is essential that the Syrians produce a list of prisoners by the opening of the conference. If this is not done, we cannot guarantee that Israel will stay at the conference.5

5. The text of the joint U.S.–USSR letter to Waldheim now reads as follows:

Begin text.

Dear Mr. Secretary General:

On October 22, 1973, the Security Council adopted Resolution 338, jointly sponsored by the Soviet Union and the United States which calls [Page 1130]for negotiations to start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices, aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East. The Soviet Union and the United States have now been informed by the parties concerned of their readiness to participate in the peace conference. The convening of the conference should be under the auspices of the United Nations.

It is our understanding that Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Syria have agreed to participate from the outset in the conference which would begin in Geneva on December 21. The parties have agreed that the conference should be under the co-chairmanship of the Soviet Union and the United States. The parties have also agreed that the question of other participants from the Middle East area will be discussed during the first stage of the conference.

It is our hope that you will find it possible to participate in the opening phase of the conference at which it is expected that the governments concerned will be represented by their respective Foreign Ministers and later by their specially appointed representatives with Ambassadorial rank. We also hope that you can make available a representative who would keep you fully informed as the conference proceeds. Finally, we would also appreciate it if the United Nations could make appropriate arrangements for the necessary conference facilities.

If as we hope you find it possible to participate, as co-chairmen the Soviet Union and the U.S. would appreciate it if you would agree to serve as convener of the conference and preside in the opening phase.

We request that you circulate this letter to members of the Security Council for their information. We believe it would be appropriate for the President of the Security Council to consult informally with the membership with a view to securing a favorable consensus of the Council. End text.

6. You should call Dobrynin’s attention to the minor change from the previous draft of the final sentence of the first paragraph of the letter. Whereas it used to read: “The conference should be convened under the auspices of the United Nations,” it now reads: “The convening of the conference should be under the auspices of the United Nations.” Should the Soviets object to this change, tell Dobrynin we will go back to the previous language.6

[Page 1131]

7. For your information only, we are asking Eilts to run the letter to Fahmi one last time.7 We also asking Jordanians for final agreement as a courtesy, although this is certain.8 As soon as we have responses from all, we will be ready to concert with Soviets on sending to Waldheim. At that point, we will want to suggest to him the exact wording of his brief invitation.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 43, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Europe & Mideast, HAKTO 1–88, Dec. 8–22, 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Flash.
  2. See Documents 398 and 399.
  3. December 17.
  4. See Documents 221 and 222.
  5. In telegram Secto 173 to Beirut for Buffum, December 17, Kissinger instructed the Ambassador to give Assad an oral message that stated that Israel had agreed to a slightly modified version of the draft letter to the Secretary General and that advised him that it was in Syria’s interest to attend the conference. Kissinger added that based on his talks with the Israelis, he believed there were good prospects for progress on disengagement on the Syrian-Israeli front. The Secretary emphasized, however, that although Israel was prepared to engage in serious and concrete discussions on disengagement of forces with Syria at Geneva, it could not do so unless Syria provided a list of POWs and permitted a visit by the Red Cross. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1179, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—1973 Peace Negotiations, December 13, 1973 thru Dec. 17, 1973 [1 of 3])
  6. In telegram Tohak 108/WH37645, December 17, Scowcroft informed Kissinger that the text and instructions in telegram Hakto 55 had been passed to Dobrynin. (Ibid., Kissinger Trip Files, Box 42, HAK Trip—Europe & Mideast, TOHAK 76–133, Dec. 8–22, 1973)
  7. In telegram Secto 161/1489 from Jerusalem to Cairo, December 17, Kissinger instructed Eilts to show the revised U.S.–Soviet letter to Fahmi in concert with Vinogradov. (Ibid., Box 611, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. 13, Nov. 73–Dec. 73)
  8. In telegram 6654 from Amman, December 17, Graham reported that he had just informed Prime Minister Rifai, who said that it was quite clear from their earlier discussion that Jordan would agree to any text acceptable to the Secretary, but that if he needed the formal concurrence of the Government of Jordan, he had it. (Ibid., Box 618, Country File, Middle East, Jordan, X, November–December 1973)