128. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2

SUBJECT:

  • Letters from the Shah on the Middle East Situation

Since the time of the Egyptian’s forthcoming reply to Ambassador Jarring early this year, the Shah has been active, both orally and by letters to you, in pressing his beliefs that the Egyptians are entirely sincere in their quest for peace while the Israelis have adopted a negative stance and should be pressed to change their position.

In particular, the Shah met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Riad last month and subsequently wrote you the letter at Tab C passing on his views as a result of that meeting. According to the Shah, Riad made the following points:

  • —When the UAR accepted the U.S. peace proposal last summer, Cairo was under the impression that the U.S. “had already obtained assurance of Israel’s acquiescence to the proposal for the solution of the Middle East problem in accordance with” the U.N. resolution of November 1967. Riad noted that recent developments make it clear that Israel “is not ready to accept” these proposals.
  • —The UAR believes the U.S. has not put sufficient pressure on Israel.
  • —The UAR has not lost all hope, despite pessimism about prospects for a peaceful solution. The UAR government “shall not resort to force in spite of the great pressure that is put upon her by public opinion in the UAR. However, it is not possible for the UAR to continue indefinitely. Allowing the present ceasefire to continue for an unlimited period would turn out to the benefit of Israel.
  • —Therefore, the UAR has requested a number of nations to use their influence to persuade the U.S. to take effective steps to achieve peace. [The Shah said he had promised to do what he could in this respect.] [Iranian Foreign Minister Zahedi told Ambassador MacArthur he sent a strong message to Foreign Minister Eban pointing out that Israel’s negative stance was causing Israel to lose its friends.]

The Shah concluded from his talk that the UAR leaders seem genuine in wanting peace and that the continuation of the present uncertain situation [Page 2]is not to their advantage. He believes that they are anxious to reestablish peace in order to direct their resources to constructive work such as development within the UAR.

The lesson which the Shah draws from all of this is that Israel should take advantage of the present opportunity. If Israel “persists in taking a negative position,” the UAR will not be able to continue its peaceful attitude and that could lead to the outbreak of hostilities again. The Shah says he encouraged the UAR in maintaining the ceasefire. He asks 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.”

While we were weighing the reply to this letter, in light of Secretary Rogers Mid-East travels, the Shah’s Foreign Minister paid an official visit to Cairo where he talked with President Sadat and Foreign Minister Riad. Hearing accounts of those meetings, the Shah again wrote you [Tab B] noting that his Foreign Minister had extensive discussions in Cairo and reaffirming the opinions he expressed in his earlier letter to you. In short, in the second letter the Shah wrote that:

  • —The UAR “is genuinely seeking peace” and “can be trusted and is in a position to conduct constructive negotiations.”
  • —“The positive attitude adopted and the initiative taken by the UAR.…as well as the sound and reasonable approach of the present regime, reaffirms my view that the United Arab Republic is determined to follow a moderate course” towards peace.
  • —“That it is now for Israel to abandon her obstinate attitude or a good opportunity for peace will be missed.
  • —“Every effort should be exerted to persuade Israel to refrain from following this dangerous policy and respond constructively to the genuine endeavors that are being made.”

The Shah explains that he has taken the liberty of writing you a second letter on the subject because of the “gravity” of the circumstances and “in keeping with” your mutual desire to exchange views.

At Tab A is a letter of reply for you to send to the Shah responding to his broad viewpoint. It does the following:

[Page 3]
  • —Thanks the Shah for sending both the accounts of and his views on the Egyptian position.
  • —Assures the Shah that the U.S. remains committed to the search for a peace settlement.
  • —Notes some encouragement from the developments of the past year, especially the ceasefire.
  • —Shows understanding for Sadat’s need for movement.
  • —States that we have told both Israel and Egypt that we would welcome any arrangement that they agree upon for reopening the Suez Canal which might reduce the dangers of renewed fighting and constitute a step toward a final settlement.
  • —Expresses gratification that the UAR intended to do all it could for a negotiated settlement and to avoid return to hostilities.

RECOMMENDATION: That you sign the letter to the Shah at Tab A. The letter has been cleared with Ray Price.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 755, Presidential Correspondence, Iran, M.R. Pahlavi, Shah of Iran Correspondence. Secret. A stamp on the document reads “The President has seen.” Tab A is published as Document 129. Tab B is not published. Tab C is published as Document 124.
  2. Kissinger summed up the series of letters from the Shah which assured Nixon of the UAR’s good intentions and requested that the U.S. Government press the Israelis to change their position in the peace negotiations.