124. Letter from the Shah of Iran to President Nixon1 2

Dear Mr. President,

In pursuance to our recent correspondence regarding matters of foreign policy in which we stressed the value and importance of continuing our exchange of views on the latest developments in various quarters, I now deem it advisable to acquaint you, Mr. President, with certain information that has been brought to my attention in the course of my conversation with Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Mahmud Riad of the United Arab Republic.

During my talk with Mr. Riad, he intimated to me that when the U.A.R. accepted the Rogers’ Peace Plan, she was under the impression that the United States, had already obtained an assurance of Israel’s acquiescence to the proposal for the solution of the Middle East problem in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution of 22 November, 1967.

Unfortunately, as it is evident from Israel’s reply to Ambassador Jarring, this country is not ready to accept these proposals for peace and now the current opinion in the U.A.R. is that the United States has not put sufficient pressure upon Israel in this regard.

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Mr. Riad added that contrary to what has been said concerning his country, the U.A.R. is not influenced by any foreign pressure and that she is aware that the key to the solution of the Middle East problem lies in the hands of the United States. He regrets that the United States is not using all its efforts to solve this problem. He also said that, despite the fact that the prospects for a peaceful solution are rather dim and Ambassador Jarring is also pessimistic, the U.A.R. has not lost all hope that a peaceful solution can still be found; and the U.A.R. Government shall not resort to force in spite of the great pressure that is put upon her by public opinion in that country. However, unless Israel correspondingly shows a positive reaction, it is not possible for the U.A.R. to continue this moderate attitude because the pressure exerted by the U.A.R. Armed Forces and public opinion will eventually oblige the Government to resort to force. If the present tacit ceasefire continues for an unlimited period, it is feared that it will turn out to the benefit of Israel and the detriment of the U.A.R. On the other hand, it is very possible that contrary to the desire of both sides, the situation will take a turn for the worse and lead to a resumption of widespread hostilities and a bloody war. That is why notwithstanding the little hope that exists, and while awaiting effective steps to be taken for the establishment of peace, the U.A.R. will spare no efforts, on its own part, in repressing the outbreak of hostilities. However, it is not certain how long she will be able to withstand this situation. Therefore, the U.A.R. has requested a number of [Page 3] peace-loving nations to use their influence with the United States Government in order to persuade her to take effective steps for the establishment of a just and honourable peace.

Mr. Riad came, on behalf of the President and the Government of the U.A.R., requesting me to use all my efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis and to contact the United States Government and I have promised him to do what I can in this respect.

From the talk I had with Mr. Riad I obtained the impression that the peaceful attitude of the U.A.R. leaders is genuine and that the continuation of the uncertain and critical situation prevailing at the moment, is not to their advantage. They are anxious to re-establish peace in order to direct their resources to constuctive work such as the development of their economy. As I have said in my previous message, Mr. President, I believe that the U.A.R. has adopted a positive attitude towards the Jarring proposals and now that such a promising turn has taken place in their outlook, it is appropriate for Israel to take positive steps and avail itself of this opportunity. If Israel persists in taking a negative position the U.A.R. will not be able to continue in its peaceful attitude and this would undoubtedly lead to the outbreak of hostilities which may spread beyond all control and create a most critical situation in this vital part of the world.

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It is my belief that the U.A.R. should be encouraged in its stand and I have explicitly told Mr. Riad that the solution of the problem must be based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution of 22 November, 1967, and the Rogers’ Peace Plan.

In expressing my opinion, I have told Mr. Riad that it is a source of satisfaction to see, that in spite of the little hope existing at the moment, the U.A.R. has not endeavoured to resume hostilities and that she has decided to continue her moderate attitude. Should the U.A.R., in the last resort, be obliged to use force to safeguard her legitimate rights, I have advised Mr. Riad that in order to win worldwide public opinion and possibly reach an eventual peaceful solution, the U.A.R. should refrain from taking any action beyond opening fire from the other side of the Suez Canal and should restrain herself from taking steps which may lead to an all out war.

It is my firm belief that if the U.A.R. is to continue in this attitude of moderation, Israel must also take a positive position in response. I am confident, that you, Mr. President will do your utmost to exercise your influence in this respect, for it is obvious that though in her present negative stand Israel may be able to win a few battles, she is not likely to win the war. Israel should therefore, avail itself of this opportunity to achieve a just and honourable peace on the basis of the United Nations Security Council Resolution of 22 November, 1967, the Rogers’ Peace Plan, and the continuation of Ambassador Jarring’s [Page 5] mission; and thus free the Middle East of all subversive forces. This coupled with the willingness of the Four Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council to guarantee the integrity of Israel will contribute to the creation of a favourable basis for the solution of the Middle East conflict.

I should be grateful to you, Mr. President, if you would kindly give this matter your considered attention, and I will be very pleased to receive your views in this regard.

With warmest greetings and kindest regards,
Yours sincerely,
M.R. Pahlavi
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 755, Presidential Correspondence, Iran, M.R. Pahlavi, Shah of Iran Correspondence. No classification marking.
  2. At the behest of the UAR Government, the Shah urged President Nixon to pressure Israel to accept an Arab-Israeli peace settlement based on UNSC Resolution 242, Secretary Roger’s peace plan, and Ambassador Gunnar Jarring’s proposals.