273. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union and the Embassy in Saudi Arabia1

54819. White House—pass Dr. Brzezinski on aircraft. Subject: Secretary’s Meeting With Dobrynin. Ref: Moscow 5258.2

1. Secretary Vance met with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin March 5. Dobrynin requested meeting to provide Soviet response to our demarche on Yemen situation February 27.3 The Ambassador’s instructions were to express satisfaction that Soviet urgings of restraint had resulted in a ceasefire; he was also to raise the question of U.S. arms shipments to the YAR. The Secretary told him the ceasefire had not held, and that the fighting had expanded, pointing out that Soviet logistical support and shipments of military equipment, including artillery and anti-tank rockets, had contributed to the present situation.

2. The Secretary impressed on Dobrynin the urgency of getting the PDRY forces back across the border from their deep penetration into the YAR and the importance of restoring the ceasefire. He indicated that we had obligations to Saudi Arabia and we would honor those obligations. The Soviet Union should understand that its actions in Yemen bear on our vital interests in the region. Dobrynin said there was no threat to Saudi Arabia, but Secretary indicated that the Saudis were nevertheless worried. Dobrynin promised to report our views.

3. For Jidda: Ambassador may use summary of Vance-Dobrynin conversation in briefing Saudis on our continuing efforts to persuade Soviets to play a constructive role in the resolution of this conflict. After briefing Saud on the Secretary’s demarche to Dobrynin, you should point out the anomaly of US support for Saudi Arabia vis-a-[Page 846]vis PDRY and the press play on his interview with Hawadis.4 At this particular time, with the Yemen conflict raging, such statements might be interpreted as Saudi encouragement in Moscow.

4. For Moscow: Above points provided as background. You may draw on them if the occasion should arise but you need not approach Soviets on this specifically.

5. Addressees will be provided septel factual up-date of Soviet assistance to PDRY, with emphasis on post-June ’78 coup arms deliveries and review of current political and military situation in YAR.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 93, Yemens: Border War: 3/5–12/79. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information Immediate to Sana, Paris, London, and the White House. Printed from a copy that was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Bodine and Sherrod McCall (EUR/SOV); cleared by Robert L. Barry (EUR), Marshall Shulman (S/MS), Crawford, and Wisner; approved by Newsom. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840140–2571) Brzezinski traveled to Egypt with Carter to meet with Sadat March 7–10. Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 179.
  2. In telegram 5258 from Moscow, March 2, the Embassy described Toon’s meeting with Soviet First Deputy Foreign Minister Korniyenko regarding the Yemen situation, during which Toon reiterated the U.S. desire for the Soviet Union to urge restraint on the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840176–1010)
  3. See footnote 2, Document 263.
  4. Reference is to Saud’s interview printed in the March 3 issue of Al Hawadess, a weekly Lebanese magazine. Saud asserted: “We would like to emphasize that the absence of diplomatic ties between us does not mean we do not recognize the Soviet Union or the importance of the role played by Soviet international policy. We have in the past expressed gratitude toward the positive stands taken by the Soviet Union regarding Arab questions. (“Saudi Hints at Efforts for Better Soviet Ties But Not Formal Links,” The New York Times, March 5, 1979, p. A6)
  5. Not found.