publisher: united nation Secretary-General's Office

Publishing date: 1974-11-14



ON THURSDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 1974 AT 3.15 P.m.

Present: H.E. Abdul Halim Khaddam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ambassador Haissam Kelani

  1. D.A. El-Fattal
  2. Riad Siage

The Secretary-General Roberto E. Guyer

Brian E. Urquhart

Jamres O.C. Jonah


Foreign Minister Khaddam expressed satisfaction with the statement made by the Secretary-General at the luncheon for President Franjieh of Lebanon.

The statement, which was constructive, had made a good impression. He was also happy to convey to the Secretary-General the best wishes of President Hafiz al-Assad.

He then enquired about the views of the Secretary-General on the general situation.

In response to the opening remarks of Foreign Minister Khaddam,

the Secretary-General said he was happy to discuss once again with him common problems.

He expressed gratification for the message of President Assad. He thanked Foreign Minister Khaddam for his reaction to his statement at the luncheon, noting that he and his colleagues in the Secretariat were convinced that there could be no lasting solution of the Middle East problem without resolving the Palestinian question.

We were now at a turning point in the efforts to reach a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. Everyone agreed that the United Nations must play an important role in these efforts.

Foreign Minister Khaddam intervened to express agreement with the Secretary-General on that point.

Continuing, the Secretary-General said he would appreciate knowing Foreign Minister Khaddam’s view of the current situation, particularly since many things had happened since Khaddam’s previous visit to New York in September.

In response, Foreign Minister Khaddam observed that many things had indeed taken place since his previous presence in the city; they related mainly to the decisions of the Rabat Conference. Three achievements had resulted from the Conference:

(i) The Arab States had terminated their inter-Arab conflict which had previously inhibited Arab solidarity.

(ii) Arab solidarity was thus strengthened.

(iii)- The Arab States reached full agreement on the legitimacy of PLO representation.

These results of the Rabat Conference had constituted a significant change in the general Arab situation. The Palestine problem had further taken its legitimate and true dimension; it could no longer be linked with other problems since it had obtained the full backing of all the Arab Governments.

Syria believed that the results of Rabat had, therefore, opened avenues for peace although emphasizing that Israel’s position remained intransigent.

Nothing had materialized during the recent visit of Secretary of State Kissinger to the area.

The situation had thus remained frozen or at a deadlock. The reason for the impasse was the failure to convene the Geneva Peace Conference. Had that been done, things would have moved forward.

In the circumstances, Syria was ready to wait to see what would result from the new contacts Mr. Kissinger would make the following month. Should nothing materialize, it would be necessary to submit the whole matter to the Security Council for review.

The Secretary-General sought some clarifications by enquiring whether Syria would wait until after Mr. Kissinger’s visit before deciding what further action it would take. In response,

Foreign Minister Khaddam stated that he would hope all international efforts would provide support for the successful outcome of the efforts by the American side. He stressed, nevertheless, that great difficulties remained in view of Israel’s refusal to withdraw from all Arab territories and its refusal to negotiate with the PLO.

When the Secretary-General mentioned rumors of a second phase of withdrawal in Sinai,

Khaddam hastened to observe that the purpose of such rumors ‘was to divide the Arab States. The Rabat Conference had taken a decision against a separate solution.

On the observation of the Secretary-General that such a decision had not been published in the final communique’ of the conference,

Khaddam revealed that certain decisions remained secret although Kissinger had been informed of them.

The Secretary-General sought further clarifications about the extent of Kissinger’s discussions with the Syrian authorities during the recent visit.

Foreign Minister Khaddam disclosed that no specific proposal had been discussed with Kissinger. He also understood that no specific proposal was discussed with Egypt. Only Kissinger’s general impressions had been reviewed. Whenever Syria was given an opportunity it had endeavored. to open doors because it was aware of the scourge of war. As the disengagement agreement was only a first step, Israel must withdraw from the whole of the Golan Heights. Kissinger had been made to understand that Syria would struggle to restore control over all its territories. In that connexion, Syria considered Palestine as part of Southern Syria.

Commenting on Ambassador Tekoah’s statement before the Assembly that day,

Foreign Minister Khaddam asserted that the statement was ~an indication that Israel was being besieged by international opposition. He could tell because the Arab States had behaved in the same manner when they were so besieged. He was, therefore, optimistic about the future since Israel had won its wars, not solely by its military might, but by the support given to it by world public opinion. The internal situation in Israel would warrant the Government taking the road to peace, assuming its position was assessed objectively.

When the Secretary-General asked whether lack of progress after Kissinger’s next visit to the area would require reconvening of the Geneva Peace Conference,

Foreign Minister Khaddam remarked that, in the circumstances, it would not be useful for Syria to call for the convening of the conference. However, an appeal could be made to the Security Council and a decision by the Council could result in its convening. He emphasized that an appeal to the Security Council was not imminent since Syria would like to allow Kissinger some more time. He added that the situation was becoming dangerous and should war break out it might become a global conflict.

The Secretary-General then directed the discussion towards UNDOF’s mandate and functioning, reminding Khaddam. that that was their main preoccupation during Khaddam’ s previous visit.

Foreign Minister Khaddam asserted that Syria had faithfully honored the terms of the disengagement agreement. Although Syria would continue to keep the terms of the agreement, it would not agree to the renewal of UNDOF’s mandate at the expiration of the current six-month period. At that time, it would be necessary to move UNDOF to the Israeli side. In further amplification of Syria’s views, Foreign Minister Khaddam noted that the situation had changed since Syria had agreed to the stationing of UNDOF in its territory. Since Syria was opposed to double-occupation – one by Israel, the other by UNDOF – the mandate of the Force should not be renewed. The disengagement agreement was intended to be temporary, providing time for the Geneva Peace Conference to convene to deal with political matters. There had been no development since that would encourage Syria to agree to the extension of UNDTOF’s mandate.

The Secretary-General recalled that Khaddam had previously stated that Kissinger should be allowed more time to see what positive result could be achieved. He pointed out that if UNDOF’s mandate was not renewed then there would be no peace-keeping force in the Israel-Syria sector when Kissinger made his next visit to the area. The Secretary-General wondered whether it would not be advisable to maintain the same situation. In any case, he hoped that the difficulties between UNDOF and Syria, which had been resolved, had not influenced Syria’s decision against renewal of the mandate.

Foreign Minister Khaddam assured the Secretary-General that Syria was enjoying good co-operation with IJNDOF, but that was no reason why UNDOF should remain on Syrian territory. The Secretary General then observed that while he appreciated knowing Syria’s intention on the renewal of UNDOF’s mandate, the whole matter would be examined in the Security Council for its decision.

He pointed out that it was usual for the Secretary-General to recommend to the Council the prolongation of a peace-keeping force, after consultation with the parties concerned. Foreign Minister Khaddam had been under the impression that a report on UNDOF’s mandate had already been submitted to the Council. He was informed that the report he had in mind was only a progress report.

Foreign Minister Khaddam remarked that when the Secretary-General had recommended extension of UITEF’s mandate it was to assist peace efforts. He wondered whether the Secretary-General had any evidence to warrant such a proposal with regard to UNDOF. In his view, the Secretary-General should give descriptive details about events with the request that the Council should implement its resolution 338.

The Secretary-General explained that having been officially informed of Syria’ s opposition to the renewal of UNDOF’s mandate, he could not recommend renewal of the mandate. However, he would present Syria’s position in his report.

The Secretary-General enquired whether Secretary of State Kissinger had been informed of Syria’s decision.

Foreign Minister Khaddam replied that Kissinger had asked Syria whether it would agree to renewal of the mandate. Kissinger was told that Syria would not, and no objection had been voiced by Kissinger.

The Secretary-General explored, with Khaddam the future role of United Nations military observers in the area.

Foreign Minister Khaddani stated that the military observers could remain after UNDOF had been withdrawn. There was a common. understanding that a return to the status quo ante would entail

re-establishment of over 90 military observers in the Golan Heights that were previously with UNTSO.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Secretary-General and Foreign Minister Khaddam agreed to remain in close contact regarding the matters discussed.