405. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the Embassy in Israel1

Secto 180/4605. For Ambassador From Secretary. Subject: Middle East Developments. Ref Cairo 4076.2

1. Please convey following message from me to Prime Minister Meir.

2. Begin text.

Dear Madam Prime Minister

I want to bring you up to date on the latest developments with regard to Syrian participation in the conference at Geneva.

We have just been informed by Ambassador Eilts that the Egyptians sent Foreign Minister Fahmy to Damascus yesterday to seek Syrian agreement. Fahmy ran into the same problem with President Asad as I did—namely, that he wants prior agreement on Syrian-Israeli disengagement before sending a Syrian delegation to the conference. In these circumstances, the Egyptians have asked that the first sentence of the second paragraph of the letter to the Secretary General regarding the parties’ agreeing to attend the conference be revised so Egypt can attend the conference in any case.

[Page 1158]

Fahmy also insists on staying with the original language about UN auspices in the last sentence of paragraph one—namely, “The conference should be convened under the auspices of the United Nations.”3 To deprive the Syrians of using a change in this sentence as a pretext for not going to Geneva, I have agreed—as you said we could—to restore the original language quoted above. We would have no objection to Israel’s declaring publicly that the UN auspices apply only to convening the conference, and we shall support this interpretation.

With respect to the other change suggested by Fahmy, in the interest of speed we have tentatively agreed to the new language quoted below. This does not change the substance and will make it possible to convene the conference without Syrian participation if the latter do not respond positively to Waldheim. The absence of Syria from the conference would of course relieve you of the nightmare you described to me and enable you to make progress with Egypt as we discussed yesterday.

We have informed the Egyptians4 and Soviets5 of our tentative agreement that the sentence “It is our understanding that Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Syria have agreed to participate from the outset in the conference which would be convened in Geneva on December 21” be replaced by the following: “We request you to contact the parties to the conflict with a view to convening the conference in Geneva December 21.” In conveying the joint letter to Waldheim, we and the Soviets would make clear to him that the “parties to the conflict” are Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Syria.

Please let me know immediately if you have any contrary feelings about this change. It is our hope to be in a position to transmit the revised US–Soviet letter to Secretary General Waldheim Tuesday6 afternoon New York time.7

[Page 1159]

Warm personal regards,

Henry A. Kissinger

End text.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt, Vol. VIII, November 1–December 31, 1973. Secret; Flash; Nodis; Cherokee. Repeated Flash to the Department of State.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 403.
  3. The language in the previous draft reads: “The convening of the conference should be under the auspices of the United Nations.”
  4. In telegram 4088 from Cairo, December 18, 0850Z, Eilts reported that Fahmi had no problem with the revised formulation. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 639, Country Files, Middle East, Arab Republic of Egypt, Vol. X, Nov–Dec. 31, 1973)
  5. In telegram Hakto 63 from Lisbon, December 18, 0550Z, Kissinger instructed Scowcroft to inform Dobrynin of the proposed revision, noting that it had been suggested by Fahmi and that the United States had accepted it subject to Israel’s approval. (Ibid., Kissinger Trip Files, Box 42, HAK Trip—Europe & Mideast, HAKTO 1–88, Dec. 8–22, 1973) In telegram Tohak 123/WH37680, December 18, 0713Z, Scowcroft informed Kissinger that he had passed the message to Dobrynin, who said he would ask Moscow for approval immediately. (Ibid., TOHAK 76–133, Dec. 8–22, 1973)
  6. December 18.
  7. In telegram 1504 from Jerusalem, December 18, 1056Z, Keating reported that he had just met with Eban, who had focused on Kissinger’s statement that the United States and the Soviet Union would make clear to Waldheim which countries were the “parties to the conflict.” The Foreign Minister said that if this were made clear in writing and if the Secretary General or the United States made this definition public, he would recommend to the Prime Minister that Israel go along. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 611, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. 13, October 1973–January 1974)