200. Letter From President Reagan to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev 1

Dear Mr. President:

I have received your letter of August 2.2

As I have said in response to your previous letters, the United States deeply regrets the suffering of the people of Lebanon, and is making every effort to bring about an end to the tragedy through the removal from Lebanon of the armed forces of all foreign powers and movements as well as the restoration of the Lebanese Government’s effective authority throughout the country. Contrary to the assertion in your latest letter, we have worked closely with other members of the United Nations to support constructive international efforts at resolving the crisis, as our vote for the Security Council resolution of August 1 clearly demonstrated.

I must, therefore, categorically reject the insinuation in your letter that the United States encouraged the Israeli side to break the ceasefire this past weekend, or on any other occasion. As I have stressed before, we shall continue our active diplomatic efforts in search of the humane and peaceful goals which we seek. I hope that the Soviet Union would do nothing to make a resolution of this tragedy more difficult.

I may add that although the United States Government and Israel maintain close and friendly relations, we are not responsible for the actions of the Israeli Government, a sovereign state. If, therefore, the Soviet Government has representations to make in this regard, it should communicate directly with the Israeli authorities.

Mr. President, I also feel compelled to reiterate my concern at your unilateral decision to make public once more the substance of one of your letters thereby breaching the confidentiality of our personal exchanges. Such actions devalue this privileged channel of communication, and raise serious doubts about the Soviet Union’s interest in a peaceful resolution of the Lebanese crisis.


Ronald Reagan
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Brezhnev (8290587, 8290654). No classification marking. In telegram 221252 to Moscow, the Department instructed that the Embassy deliver Reagan’s letter to Korniyenko or a “comparably senior MFA official” on August 9. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N820007–0244)
  2. See Document 199.