281. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Yemen.]

5. Yemen: The Kuwaiti sponsored Summit between the two Yemeni Presidents concluded with a declaration outlining steps toward unification of the two states.2 The declaration allows enough room for interpretation so that either party may effectively block final implementation without violating the letter of the agreement.

While the principle of unification receives lip service in both the North and the South, various efforts to achieve this goal have floundered in past years. It is too early to say whether the Kuwaiti initiative will meet with any more success, but given the poor record of Yemeni and other Arab unification attempts, the prognosis is not favorable.

The declaration includes a fair amount of PDRY bombast—including a phrase on the need to “consolidate the just Pan-Arab struggle against the common enemy represented in the imperialist-Zionist-US alliance and treason.” We have received apologies from members of the North Yemen Government explaining the phrase reflected the Baghdad Conference3 and the skillful maneuvering of the South Yemeni President. The YAR has offered to issue a statement on the value North Yemen places on its relations with the US. We have instructed our Ambassador to make clear to the North Yemen Government that the declaration’s reference to the US undermines our ability to assist the Government of North Yemen and that the proposed statement would be a helpful antidote.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 39, State Department Evening Reports, 4/79. Secret. In the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum, Carter wrote: “Cy J.”
  2. The Arab League-sponsored summit took place in Kuwait March 28–30. Salih and Ismail signed a unity declaration on March 30. In telegram 2180 from Sana, April 1, the Embassy provided an overview of the meeting and commentary on the declaration. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790150–0912)
  3. See footnote 4, Document 191.