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82. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Waldheim Requests Your Counsel on Middle East

You will see from the attached cable2 that Waldheim has told Scali that he would welcome any counsel you might wish to relay on the tactics he might follow during his Middle East trip which begins Saturday.3 Scali will be seeing him in New York Friday, so any reply you wish to have him convey should be passed to him today. Scali comments that Waldheim is clearly anxious to get on a good footing with you and will probably be more receptive to advice now than later.

Waldheim has told Scali that the purpose of his trip is not to find a solution to the Middle East problem but to consult with the parties, assess the situation and “contribute modestly to efforts for peace.” However, other reports from New York suggest that he has much more activist intentions in mind—for instance, that he might try out a proposal for “Rhodes talks” or for a Middle East Peace Conference. Our main interest is in not having him raise Egyptian hopes unrealistically about what he can and cannot deliver.

It seems to me that it might be useful to ask Scali to convey the following cautionary points:

—We thoroughly endorse the approach of quiet diplomacy. When the Egyptians’ hopes are raised too high or when Israeli fears of precipitous movement are aroused, we have found peace-making efforts are set back. Our experience suggests that only a very gradual and undramatic approach has any chance of success.

—It seems to us that the Secretary General’s trip can be useful if it helps to put him in a better position for possible future action. With the Israeli election campaign now beginning, it seems early to expect any definitive discussions with the Israelis.

—Our primary concern is to encourage a situation in which there can be genuine negotiations. No outsider will be able to play an effec[Page 251]tive role until each side has made a fundamental decision to enter the give-and-take of negotiations. This is a point which the Secretary General can make in the interest of all who would play a role in a settlement.

—A major objective now, in our view, is to break the present deadlock and to begin the process of settlement. We do not feel that this can be accomplished all in one step and are therefore urging that a first step be found to begin the process. We recognize the problem this causes for the Egyptians, but we see the advantage of breaking the deadlock as outweighing the disadvantage of perpetuating the present situation. This is a general point which the Secretary General might pursue.4

The tactical issue is whether you wish to have this put into a State Department telegram in response to Scali’s or whether you want to telephone him. I would recommend the latter so that you can give him some personal flavor.

Recommendation: That you or General Scowcroft telephone Scali today making the above points.5

Approve

Give it to State in general terms for a telegram.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1172, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, M.E. [Middle East] Jarring Talks, 8/1/73–8/31/73. Secret. Sent for action. Printed from an uninitialed copy.
  2. Telegram 2940 from USUN, August 22; attached, but not printed.
  3. August 25.
  4. Waldheim arrived in Israel on August 30 after visiting Syria and Lebanon. In telegram 6898 from Tel Aviv, August 31, the Embassy reported that Meir told Keating that Waldheim had “brought nothing” to Israel. She said that the Syrians had demanded Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights before even considering negotiations, while making it clear they did not accept Resolution 242. Waldheim had suggested a possible Israeli initiative indicating willingness to negotiate on the basis of the UN Charter and that Israel “imply” that it was willing to go back to the 1967 borders. Israel had rejected these suggestions and insisted that Resolution 242 had to be used as the basis for any negotiations. Meir said that the problem was to get Arab leaders to accept the existence of Israel, rather than to indulge in semantics designed to cover the aim of Israel’s destruction. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  5. The original bears no indication of Kissinger’s action.