461. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

1388. For Secretary. Subject: UN Resolution on Near East.

Gromyko called me to Foreign Office today and referred to his conversation with you in New York on Middle East.2 He said he had then told you that if you agreed it would be well for us both to work toward one of the American forms of the resolution worked out during the Special Assembly. At that time the Arabs were opposed. He said that he did not say that all Arab doubts had disappeared, but now all Arab countries took a more realistic position. This however was on the basis that there would not be any one-sided interpretation. He was proposing that the resolution be adopted as it is. You had pointed out that it was difficult to adopt a resolution without knowing whether or not it would be acceptable to the Arab countries. Before adopting a resolution, the Soviets and ourselves could ascertain the Arab position. He thought that if necessary the resolution could receive some kind of public Arab approval. The Soviets were ready to try to get the Arabs to say that after the resolution was adopted, they would say they would carry it out. You had asked about determination of belligerency and had pointed out that the Arabs might make statements maintaining a state of belligerency and nothing would have been changed. Gromyko said that he had countered by asking how this was possible as the resolution itself provided for recognition of the independence and national existence of all states in the area. He thought this covered the problem since the Arabs would say they would carry out the resolution. You had indicated that you would study the problem and that an answer would be made either to Washington or Moscow. So far there had been no reply. The problem was rather tense and charged with uncertainties. He thought that neither the US nor the Soviet Union was interested in resumption of military activities in that area. The Soviet Union was prepared to work with the Arab countries to try to convince them that perhaps even before the adoption of the resolution they would agree to carry it out if Israel did so. In this connection he mentioned specifically [Page 882] the UAR and Jordan and said perhaps other Arab countries might be persuaded.
I said I would of course inform you promptly of his remarks but I wished to point out it was necessary to get agreement of both sides. The Israelis would surely ask us if this meant that the Suez Canal would be open to their ships.
Gromyko replied that this would be discussed on the basis of the resolution as would also the question of refugees. He indicated however if this had to be dealt with specifically by an interpretation in advance, there would be no progress.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN. Secret; Limdis. Received at 1838Z.
  2. Reference is apparently to a September 27 conversation between Rusk and Gromyko, at which they discussed a number of subjects, including the Middle East. Telegram 1055 (Secto 16) from USUN, September 28, in which Rusk reported the conversation, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XIV, Document 247.