167. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

760. For the Secretary from Ambassador. Subject: Next Steps in Peace Process. Ref: State 008958.2

[Page 579]Summary: Conveyed to PriMin Khalil this morning our ideas on how to proceed. He was generally agreeable, but asked that Atherton/Hansell come to Cairo January 17–183 since he is scheduled make second trip to Khartoum January 19 and will stay there for two days. He wants to conduct Article IV and VI talks with Atherton/Hansell and does not want Boutros Ghali to do so. Khalil emphasized that it is not only para 5 of Article VI that needs to be covered by interpretative note, but also para 2. Latter, he stressed, is of great importance to GOE in connection with linkage letter. Whole exercise, Khalil said, must be in context of Camp David Accords, not as Dayan had just put it, “stand on its own feet.” He understands that Israelis have not yet been approached and that our concept should for time being be kept in strict confidence. In subsequent telecom with VP Mubarak it developed that Khalil had informed him. VP was also agreeable to our proposed procedure. End Summary.

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1. I was able contact PriMin Khalil this morning in order to tell him of our tentative thinking on how to proceed. After telling him that Israelis share his preference for moving directly to Ministerial-level talks, I also gave our view on importance of first laying careful groundwork. He agreed. I then told him that we would first like to try to resolve the Articles IV and VI problems. Of these, Article VI is the more difficult and, as we see it, requires in first instance further discussions between ourselves and Israelis in order to ascertain if we can clairfy for them the kinds of questions about our legal interpretative note that I understood Dayan had raised with Khalil in Brussels.4 Khalil recalled that the subject had been discussed there.

2. I then told him about proposed Atherton/Hansell visit to Tel Aviv and Cairo next week. Their mission will be to explore possibility of resolving Articles IV and VI problems and thereafter returning to Washington to report to the Secretary. Depending upon results, the Secretary would then be in better position to make a judgment on [Page 580]utility and timing of Ministerial talks designed grapple with West Bank/Gaza side letter problem.

3. Khalil thought our concept makes sense and said Atherton/Hansell will be welcome. He wondered, however, whether Dayan and Begin will be prepared try to work out issue at Atherton/Hansell level. I said that we have not yet sounded out the Israelis on the subject, but we believe they will be receptive. We wished first to get preliminary Egyptian reactions prior to Khalil’s departure for Khartoum later today. As I had earlier said to him, our present thinking is tentative and we will not be in a position to make formal proposals for another day or two, i.e. until after we have also sounded out Israelis.

4. Assuming Israelis agree, Khalil asked that Atherton/Hansell come to Cairo January 17–18. His reason is that he will again go to Khartoum on January 19 and will remain there for Sadat’s speech the following day. Thus, he will not be available at the end of next week. He made point that Atherton/Hansell discussions will be with him and not with Boutros Ghali.

5. Alluding to the Article VI problem, Khalil emphasized that it is not only para 5 of that Article that needs be covered in legal interpretation, but also para 2. The latter, he stated, is “very important to Egypt” in connection with the proposed side letter on West Bank/Gaza. The Israelis must not be able to claim that para 2 of Article VI vitiates the binding nature of any linkage letter. He recalled that he had told President Carter that USG had added para 2 of Article VI. President Carter had explained that the USG purpose had been to meet Israeli concerns with respect to possible Palestinian refusal to cooperate. The final clause of para 2, however, President Carter had said had never been intended to call for an independent Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty. The Secretary had even expressed a willingness to delete the final clause, although this idea had been overtaken by our decision close text. Hence, USG had decided on interpretative note route. This is agreeable to GOE, but Khalil reiterated such an interpretative note must cover paras 2 and 5. The whole exercise, he contended, must be in the context of the Camp David Accords, not as Dayan had just put it, “stand on its own feet.”

6. Khalil said that he will wait to hear from us upon his return from Khartoum, probably on Monday, January 15. He understands that we have not yet approached the Israelis and that our tentative idea should for the time being be kept in strict confidence.

7. About an hour later VP Mubarak telephoned on another matter. It transpired that Khalil had told him about our idea. Mubarak also indicated his agreement and his understanding that for the time being it should be treated in strict confidence.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840156–1875. Secret; Immediate; Exdis Distribute as Nodis. Sent for information Immediate to Tel Aviv and the White House.
  2. Telegram 8958 to Tehran, January 12, conveyed a message from Carter to the Shah of Iran, thanking him for his account of his recent meetings with Sadat and the Saudi leadership. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840156–2389)
  3. Telegram 9775 to Cairo and Tel Aviv, January 13, confirmed Atherton and Hansell’s proposed visit to Tel Aviv and Cairo, beginning January 16, in order to explore ways of resolving outstanding issues related to Articles IV and VI of the peace treaty. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840156–1866) On the eve of the arrival of the Atherton/Hansell Mission, Atherton observed that in addition to their work on Articles IV and VI, they might also “be able to do some useful work on the oil problem. With Israel now very likely cut off from Iranian supply, it is already clear that the Gulf of Suez oil issue is going to assume a substantially more important place in the peace negotiations.” Atherton noted that their objective should not be to achieve a final resolution on oil, but rather to build on the “considerable work that has already been done in this area.” (Telegram 11571 to Cairo and Tel Aviv, January 16; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 115, 1/15–24/79)
  4. See footnote 2, Document 162.