179. Message From President Reagan to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev 1

Dear Mr. President:

I have carefully studied your message of June 9 on the situation in Lebanon.

We are as concerned as you are at developments there, and I agree that the situation is grave. Our position is clear. Like the Soviet Union, [Page 576] the United States voted for United Nations Security Council Resolutions 508 and 509.2

In that regard, I have just learned that there has been a major escalation in the fighting between Israeli and Syrian forces. I have, therefore, called on the parties to agree to a ceasefire to take effect at 6:00 a.m. local (Lebanese) time, June 10. I urge you to use your strong influence on Syria, as I am using my influence in Israel, to bring about immediate acceptance of that proposal.

Ambassador Habib, during earlier extensive discussions with Prime Minister Begin, made abundantly clear to the Government of Israel that in the view of the United States:

—Hostilities must cease forthwith,

—Every effort must be made to avoid escalating the current hostilities and widening the conflict,

—Israeli forces must be withdrawn from Lebanon,

—The unilateral use of force to change the situation in the area is unacceptable.

But it is also clear, Mr. President, that Israel is not prepared to accept a restoration of the previous pattern of aggression against its northern territories—an objective that we fully understand and with which we sympathize.

As you may know, Ambassador Habib is now in Damascus for discussions with Syrian leaders to clarify the situation and urge restraint and the acceptance of my proposal for a ceasefire.

At the same time, Mr. President, I am compelled to point out that your government bears no little responsibility for the current crisis in the Middle East by its failure to support the Camp David Accords and its readiness to furnish a steady supply of weapons to PLO forces in Lebanon. While we use our inflence to restrain Israel, we expect your government to exercise its influence over the PLO, Syria and your other friends in the area in the same direction.

Ronald Reagan
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Brezhnev (8290378, 8290381). No classification marking. An unknown hand indicated that Washington transmitted the message to Moscow at 1820Z.
  2. U.N. Resolution 508, June 5, called for a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Lebanese territory. U.N. Resolution 509, June 6, called for Israeli forces to withdraw from Lebanon.