133. Telegram From the Department of State to the United States Interests Section in Baghdad1

245535. Subject: Secretary’s Bilateral With Iraqi Foreign Minister.

1. Secretary, accompanied by Under Secretary Habib and Baghdad PO Peck, had 45-minute meeting with Foreign Minister Hammadi and Iraqi delegation, including UN PermRep Shahafi, in lounge of UN on Oct 3. (FYI: This was only bilateral which did not take place in Secretary’s suite at One UN Plaza, and was held on neutral ground at Iraqi insistence. A translator was also present at Iraqi request, but he only translated Hammadi’s remarks from Arabic to English. End FYI).

2. Meeting was reasonably cordial but restrained, with Iraqis focusing almost exclusively on their perception of principal obstacles to improved relations: American support for Israel, the question of a Palestinian homeland, and the issue of refugees. The Secretary underlined continued U.S. commitment to existence and security of Israel, but pointed out that we are working hard to resolve the Middle East problem in a manner acceptable to all the parties, thereby creating the conditions for a just and lasting peace in the area.

3. The Secretary pointed to the U.S.-Soviet joint statement2 as an indication of the effort being put forth, and the recognition of the necessity to provide answers to the complicated question of Palestinian rights and a Palestinian homeland. He told Hammadi, who pressed for details, that our views are well known to the parties concerned, who must themselves make the final decisions at Geneva.3

4. Other issues of significance were Iraqi request for assurances that the U.S. was not involved in internal affairs or in activities related to formation of blocs in the Gulf area—assurances which were crisply and categorically given. The session was inconclusive so far as any movement toward renewing relations is concerned. Hammadi said there so far had been insufficient change in U.S. policy to justify renewal but indicated an Iraqi willingness to meet again, in the U.S. or in [Page 428]Baghdad. The Secretary pointed out that Mr. Peck was being sent there in order to permit the dialogue to continue.

5. Copy of memcon being pouched.

Vance
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770372–0929. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Peck (NEA); cleared by Leo Reddy (S/S) and Frank Wisner (S/S); approved by Atherton. Sent for information to USUN, Kuwait, Sana, Jidda, Damascus, Amman, Cairo, and Tel Aviv.
  2. Released on October 1; see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute, January 1977–August 1978, Document 120.
  3. Reference is to the Geneva Middle East Peace Conference.