84. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Egypt and Israel1

259062. For Ambassadors from Atherton and Saunders. Subject: First Day of Blair House Talks—Oct. 12, 1978.

1. We had a very productive first day of talks, marked by more substantive progress than we had anticipated and the early identification of some potential problem areas.

2. Following opening ceremonies at the White House, we had a plenary session that served to pin down general procedural questions. Both sides agreed to meet as full delegations rather than subdividing into working groups, although there have already been private [Page 307]meetings between counterparts (Dayan-Boutros Ghali; Weizman-Hassan Ali).

3. The rest of the day was devoted largely to bilateral meetings, which focused on a draft treaty text that we had prepared and made available to both delegations, and which both agreed to use as common negotiating text. We met first with the Israelis who had done their homework on our text and suggested a number of changes. (We are aware that you do not have our draft text and so will not try to convey the specific Israeli comments at this preliminary stage.) Unfortunately, we do not have either side’s agreement at this stage to make public that we are working from a US draft,2 so please don’t let cat out of bag.

4. We then met with the Egyptians, who were not yet prepared to offer comments on our text. The Secretary shared with them most of the Israeli suggestions, and when we resume in the morning the Egyptians will offer theirs.

5. During our meeting with the Israelis, Weizman brought up their concern about the speed with which they will be able to withdraw, pointing out the importance of U.S. assistance in this regard. He expressed particular concern about their leaving “live installations” such as Um Khasheib and wondered if a mobile American installation might not be loaned to Israel while they are establishing an alternate site.

6. Egyptians raised two general concerns. (Osama al-Baz did most of the talking for their side.) They obviously hope that a treaty will not erect impediments to their conduct of relations with and obligations to third parties—i.e., other Arabs. They are also hoping to achieve reciprocal gradualism in the implementation of the withdrawal and normalization aspects of a treaty. Obvious Egyptian desire to avoid neglecting West Bank and Palestinian issues was pre-empted by Secretary’s suggesting that we must begin discussing West Bank/Gaza questions if only for clarification purposes, with which Egyptian delegation immediately agreed. Secretary will pursue this subject bilaterally with Dayan Friday.3

7. Day ended with brief trilateral meeting of Secretary, Ali and Dayan for purpose of summarizing day’s highlights and agreeing on program for Friday.

8. You will appreciate impossibility of sending you daily detailed accounts. Once main issues have begun to crystallize, we will try to send you periodic summary of where matters stand and highlight issues that might be raised with you in capitals.

Vance
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 113, 10/1–16/78. Secret; Sensitive; Immediate; Nodis. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Kirby; cleared by Richard Castrodale (S/S–O) and Atherton; approved by Saunders. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840156–2252)
  2. See footnote 2, Document 83.
  3. October 13.