413. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco) to Secretary of State Kissinger 1


  • Framework for Geneva

The purpose of your two days in Geneva will be to set a clear course for the disengagement phase of the Peace Conference between now and roughly the end of January. You will have in mind that there will probably be several phases beyond that, but you can turn your attention to those in January.

The present concept is to think of the Friday and Saturday2 sessions as Phases 1–A and 1–B. Phase 1–A on Friday would be open and would consist of the speeches by Waldheim and the foreign ministers. This would be followed later Friday by further informal consultations on Conference procedures. Phase 1–B on Saturday would be closed and would deal with Conference procedures.

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Objectives and Issues

Specifically, the following are your principal objectives:

1. You will want to reach a general understanding on conference procedures in such a way as to have them established as quickly as possible before the Saturday session with the least possible formal discussion among the parties. If they get deeply involved, they are likely to stall progress for some time. I suggest the following approach:

a. Try to settle the main procedural issues with Gromyko Thursday3 night. A checklist of these issues is included in the memorandum for your dinner meeting with Gromyko (Tab A).4

b. Agree that we will try to achieve consensus on procedures in informal consultations Friday so the Saturday meeting can proceed with the least possible controversy.

c. For those issues not resolved or which may come up in the future, it may be desirable to establish a working group so that the foreign ministers can refer issues there rather than taking up the time of the ministerial meeting on these problems.

2. In the public sessions, you will want to establish a sense that the Conference means business and that it has a realistic plan for achieving early agreement on some issues, particularly disengagement. Without getting into any formal communiqué, it may be desirable for you and Gromyko as co-chairmen to announce at the end of the sessions (a) that the conferees have agreed that talks are scheduled to begin January 7 on disengagement of military forces and (b) that Egyptian-Israeli and Jordanian-Israeli working groups will meet in Geneva on that date for that purpose. It might also be announced—although this should be kept flexible if it is done at all—that the foreign ministers have discussed the possibility of meeting again in mid-January when this first phase of discussions is well along. The purpose would be to focus public attention on some concrete achievements at the Conference and a sense of direction. Some of this, of course, will be done in your speech.

3. In your bilateral meetings with Eban, Fahmi, and Rifai, focus should be on procedures for getting the disengagement talks started and for a continuing exchange of views between us as these talks proceed.


You will see Gromyko for dinner Thursday evening. A detailed memo for your talk with him is at Tab A. In brief, you will want to cover with him:

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—Conference procedures.

—Understanding that we will aim for disengagement agreements by the end of January.

—The need to prevent Syria from resuming hostilities.

—The USSR’s responsibility for Syrian participation, if any.

—The need for the USSR to make good on Brezhnev’s promise for a prisoner exchange soon after the ceasefire.

You will see Eban for breakfast Friday morning. You will want to cover with him:

—When and where we can meet with an Israeli representative to get a clear picture of what position Israel will advance on disengagement on the Egyptian front.

—Agreement that disengagement talks with Egypt can begin January 7 in Geneva. Egyptian and Israeli representatives will make their own arrangements for resuming the talks.

—How best to hear Israel’s ideas on a “disengagement” phase with Jordan, following up on the discussion of this issue at Eban’s dinner last Sunday evening.5 It might be worth suggesting that Eban try to get together with Rifai and let you know what happens.

—How to begin exchanging ideas in January on structuring Phase II of the Conference beyond January.

—Agreement on the procedures you and Gromyko have discussed.

You will pay a courtesy call on Waldheim before the Conference opens. This will be an opportunity to convey whatever general conclusions you and Gromyko have reached, to assure that he understands your general concept for the first phase of the Conference and to explain what you hope to have come out of the first two days of the Conference.

At the opening session of the Conference on Friday Waldheim and all of the foreign ministers will speak beginning with Gromyko and you. Your speech is designed to outline your general approach to the work of the Conference, to give a sense that early progress is possible, but to inject some realism about how quickly and how much progress can be expected in the early stages.

Friday evening, there will be a reception by Waldheim. Your main purpose there will be to help encourage the breaking of the ice among the senior delegates.

—Friday evening will also be a time for developing consensus among the parties on the issues that will be discussed at the Saturday [Page 1180] meeting—conference procedures, conference organization, agenda timetable.

You will see Fahmi for dinner Friday. You will want to assure understanding that:

—The Egyptian-Israeli working group will meet January 7. Members of the Egyptian and Israeli delegations will make their own arrangements for resuming disengagement talks.

—Egypt agrees to the procedures you and Gromyko have discussed.

—Each of you will begin developing ideas in January on how to structure Phase II of the Conference beyond January.

You should try to see Rifai sometime Saturday to round out your consultations. The main business with Jordan is to see how much further it is possible to go in defining the scope of talks on a “disengagement” phase on the West Bank. However, Abdul Monem Rifai may not be the best channel for this. You might give him an opening, but reserve real discussion for the King in Amman. Otherwise, your main purpose will be to get his concurrence in the procedures you and Gromyko have discussed.

At the conclusion of the Conference it would be desirable to have some sort of statement, perhaps by you and Gromyko, outlining how the work of the Conference will proceed. The main points would be:

—The Conference has agreed on procedures and organization for its future work.

—The Conference has agreed that the first issue to be dealt with will be the disengagement of military forces.

—Egypt-Israel and Jordan-Israel working groups have been established to discuss this issue.

—Those working groups will meet in Geneva January 7.

—The full Conference will be reconvened in Geneva on January 15 or at a slightly later date if the work in the disengagement groups requires.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1180, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—1973 Peace Negotiations, December 18, 1973 thru Dec. 22, 1973 [1 of 3]. Secret; Nodis. Printed from an uninitialed and undated copy.
  2. December 21 and 22.
  3. December 20.
  4. Attached, but not printed.
  5. December 16. See Document 399.