129. Letter From President Nixon to the Shah of Iran1 2

Your Imperial Majesty:

Thank you for your letters. I appreciated having a full account of Foreign Minister Riad’s comments and your observations on those, as well as on Foreign Minister Zahedi’s discussions in Cairo.

As you know, I share your belief that a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict must be sought in accordance with the Security Council resolution of November 22, 1967. While I continue persuaded that negotiating a peace agreement must be primarily the work of Israel and the Arab states themselves, I recognize that the United States has an important role to play in furthering this process. Secretary Rogers reaffirmed this during his stops in the area.

Although there is much yet to be done, I have been encouraged by the improvement that has taken place in the past year. The ceasefire has now held for nine months, and this has helped bring about at least the beginning of an evolution of public attitudes on both sides. There is a degree of impatience, which is quite understandable. But the public attitudes with which both sides must contend have been conditioned by more than two decades of suspicion, and achievement of a peace that will last will, of course, depend on a change of those public attitudes.

I recognize that the time factor cuts two ways. President Sadat has frankly explained the exigencies of the situation as he feels them, and we fully understand that time is an important element: while time is needed to allow each side to [Page 2] adjust to the compromises that are necessary to move toward a peace settlement, we also are aware that the present situation continues to be fragile.

We are working with both sides within the context of the Jarring mission, which we support strongly. Secretary Rogers’ just-concluded trip to the Near East was in support of continued negotiations under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices and helped, we think, to clarify the issues and narrow differences between the two sides. In addition, Israel and Egypt have indicated their desire to work through the United States Government in discussing the possibilities for an interim Suez Canal agreement, and we are engaged in this role. Any arrangement that may be agreed upon between the parties for reopening the Suez Canal would not only reduce the dangers of renewed fighting, but also constitute a step toward a final, overall settlement.

Mr. Riad’s statement to you that the United Arab Republic will do everything possible to maintain its present policy of seeking a negotiated peace settlement is reassuring. A return to warfare would be a tragedy for all concerned. It would be bloody, immensely wasteful in terms of national resources, and I cannot see that either side could expect to achieve decisive results.

Your personal evaluations were most helpful. I hope you will continue to be in touch with me directly on this matter whenever you feel it would be useful. Certainly both of us share the same deep concern for the importance of achieving a peaceful settlement of this long and tragic conflict.

With warm personal regards,
Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 755, Presidential Correspondence, Iran, M.R. Pahlavi, Shah of Iran Correspondence. No classification marking. In Telegram 1885 from Tehran, April 13, Ambassador MacArthur discussed with Zahedi the Shah’s first letter, countering that although Washington was making great efforts, the United States was not in a position to impose a solution on Israel, which would only harden Tel Aviv’s stance. When MacArthur added that Israel had strong domestic opposition to placate, Zahedi responded that the United States also had domestic political concerns to consider in the matter. (Ibid., Box 1268, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations, Iran 1/1/71–5/31/71.)
  2. Nixon replied to the Shah that a peace settlement must be the work primarily of the Arabs and the Israelis, although the United States was working with both sides within the Jarring mission framework.