77. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance to the Embassies in Jordan and Egypt1

Secto 8102. For Ambassadors From Secretary. Subj: Talks in Saudi Arabia.

1. Action addressees should pass to respective governments at appropriate levels the following account of my talks in Taif.

2. In my first meeting with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Sunday night,2 I went over with him the same ground I have covered in the other Arab capitals, including the draft statement of principles and our suggested formula for PLO acceptance of Resolution 242 with reservations.

3. Both King Khalid, in my meeting the following morning, and Prince Fahd later, asked whether if the PLO accepts Resolution 242 and recognizes Israel’s right to exist, the United States would invite the PLO to Geneva and guarantee that the Palestinians would have their own homeland. I said that if the PLO took this step, we would enter into official contacts with it and that we supported the concept of a Palestinian entity and of Palestinian self-determination. I made clear, however, that we could not guarantee the outcome of negotiations with respect to the nature of a Palestinian homeland and that the form of Palestinian representation at Geneva was not just up to us; it had to be agreed by all the parties, including Israel.

4. Prince Fahd began with a long presentation which focused heavily on the Palestinians—the need for them to be represented at Ge[Page 417]neva, to have their own state which Saudi Arabia could guarantee to be moderate, and the importance of a US-Palestinian dialogue. He said the time had now come for the PLO to accept Resolutions 242 and 338 and for the US to recognize and deal with the PLO. He also stressed the importance of reaching agreement on the principal substantive issues before Geneva and for the US to announce its own position publicly on these issues. On this issue I said we would make our views known initially only to the parties but that at the appropriate time we would be prepared to make our views public. In my talk with Fahd, at which both Prince Saud and Defense Minister Prince Sultan were present, I affirmed our determination to continue on the course we have set. I said this could only succeed, however, with cooperation and moderation on the Arab side. I confirmed that our position with respect to the 1967 borders with minor modifications has not changed. At the same time, I stressed the need for the Arabs to go further than they have so far in defining the nature of peace. On the Palestinian representation question, I said that at an appropriate time, we would support the idea of a unified Arab delegation including Palestinians. Fahd said Saudis were prepared to support either unified delegation or separate delegations but made clear for first time that they envisaged unified delegation as alternative to their former insistence that PLO had to be represented separately.

5. I went over in detail with Prince Fahd and Prince Sultan our draft statement of principles reviewing for them the position of Israel and of each of the Arab confrontation states on each principle. Fahd did not indicate any problems with the first two principles which have also been accepted by all the parties. With respect to the third principle on normal peaceful relations, Fahd thought this would be easier for the Arabs if it referred to the “development,” rather than the establishment of normal peaceful relations “over a period of time” or “in due course.” With respect to the fourth principle on withdrawal, Fahd echoed the basic Arab position that this must be understood to mean return to the 1967 lines with minor modifications limited to the West Bank. On the fifth principle relating to a Palestinian entity, Fahd thought that the provision for non-militarization would be difficult for the Palestinians to accept. I took exception to this but said we would reflect on this suggestion. He raised no questions about the concept of a transitional period under international administration. Fahd showed particular interest in the idea of self-determination as an alternative to guaranteeing in advance to the Palestinians that they would have a totally independent state. With respect to Jerusalem, Fahd said it would perhaps be acceptable for Israel to keep the part of the city it held before 1967 and for East Jerusalem to be returned to Arab sovereignty with free access to the holy places.

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6. At the end of my final meeting with Prince Fahd, after detailed explanations of the approach we are pursuing including our five draft principles, Fahd said that he considers the steps we are taking to be serious and reflective of earnest efforts on our part in the search for peace. The Saudis will, I think, now be encouraged to intensify their own efforts even more.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840072–2539. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent to Damascus. Sent immediate for information to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the Department of State.
  2. August 7.