Meeting between the secretary general and the president of Syria 25/11/1974

publisher: united nation Secretary-General's Office

Publishing date: 1974-11-25


Present: President Hafez Assad
Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam
The Secretary-General

Roberto E. Guyer


President Assad started the meeting expressing his satisfaction with the Secretary-General’s visit. He said that 1974 woul1d prove to be a very important year for the United Nations, especially taking into account the issues discussed in the General Assembly. He specifically mentioned the Palestine question. lie then referred to the, Israeli reactions, stating that they did not realize the historical importance of the
General Assembly’ a decision and that the times have changed.

The ;Secretary-General replied that he thought that in time Israel will understand that she has to negotiate with Arafat.
Hie then praised the Syrian attitude in the previous week’s crisis.
“the calmness -with which  the Syrian Government reacted during that week-end and its decision not to start a mobilization greatly contributed to maintaining peace.
Nevertheless, even if this crisis had been averted, the situation continued to be precarious and it was imperative to arrive at a just and long
lasting peace in the region.

President Assad answered that he had been in contact with Dr. Kissinger and the USSR. Syria has no intention of attacking
Israel,, but if they were attacked they would retaliate immediately.

In spite of Israel’s present power, she would be defeated in the end.
it was therefore necessary to arrive soonest possible at a just peace, Peace cannot be achieved without the United Nations, and its important role must be recognized; he had told this both to the United States and to the USSR.
The present situation could not continue for a long time, and therefore every effort should be made towards peace.

The Secretary-General said that this was the fundamental issue why UNDOF should be prolonged. By doing this, time would be gained in which a peace settlement could be arrived at.
As he had repeatedly stated, peace-keeping in itself is not an end but gives a certain time to obtain a Peace Treaty.
However, peace-keeping under its present practices could not be maintained without the concurrence of the interested parties.
For this reason he had thought it necessary to contact the President.

President Assad stated that origin-ally they had intended not to agree to UNDOF’s renewal as no progress had been made on the peace negotiations.

On receiving the Secretary-generals two messages and hearing of his intentions to visit Damascus, as well as the requests made by the United States, the USSR, and friendly Arab Governments, he had decided to change his attitude and agreed to UNDO?’ a renewal. Not with standing, he would like to make it very clear that during this nest period efforts must be made to arrive at a just peace.
The Secretary-General said he was very grateful for this decision because it allowed time for negotiations.
He then asked if the President meant that the Geneva Conference should be convened immediately.
The President said that this was not the case and that he was willing to give Dr. Kissinger time to continue his bilateral diplomacy.
if that venue did not achieve complete results, then the occasion would arrive for Geneva to reconvene.
He intimated that the time he was allowing for Dr. Kissinger’s efforts were until the middle of January 1975, although no definite time-table was mentioned.
The President reaffirmed that if the bilateral peace efforts did not succeed Geneva, would have to be reconvened, even in spite of American
or Israeli Objections.

The Secretary-General agreed with the necessity of giving some time for bilateral negotiations, and said that bilateral and multilateral approaches were not of a conflicting nature.
It should not be forgotten that the United Nations did not have force at its disposal and only a mobile power. it was therefore necessary to combine the efforts of the great powers with those of the world community.
The ‘President replied that he did not agree with this interpretation and that the Secretary-General also had material power.
If he criticized any given state for not fulfilling its obligations under the Charter, it had strong political repercussions and affected the country in question.
He stressed various times the importance of the United Nations role and said that no definite solution could be found outside of it.
He added that he had conveyed this opinion, to the U.S. and the USSR, and It was in this light that he was grateful for
the Secretary-general  visit at this time, as it gave him the opportunity to discuss current problems with, him.

The secretary-general then inquired whether it would be agreeable to Syria to prolong UNDOF’S mandate for a further six months period , to which the President answered affirmatively.
The President went on to refer to the resolution to be presented to the Security, Council on the renewal of UNDOF’  mandate and said that it met with his approval.
The Secretary-General mentioned’ that he expected  that the resolution would be presented by a neutral non-aligned country.
The President
replied that he was in agreement with ‘this and suggested that the greatest possible number of supporters should be obtained to this effect.
At the end of the meeting the President thanked the Secretary-General again for his visit to Syria and reaffirmed his desire to co-operate with the united Nations on all aspects of the middle East problem.