Henry Kissinger to Iraq: "We can reduce Israel's Size"
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In 1975, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger conducted a secret meeting with Iraqi diplomats in Paris. The goal was to improve United States relations with Iraq. Iraq had severed diplomatic relations with the United States after the Six Day War of 1967, and was unwilling to renew relations, despite the aid of the CIA in putting Saddam Hussein in power in 1968. In many ways, this conversation is remarkable for its cynicism. Among other things, Kissinger said that "We can reduce Israel's size." This provoked a great deal of hurt and surprise among supporters of Israel, but as we shall see, it should not, in fact, have been surprising.
Kissinger let the Iraqi Minister of Foreign affairs understand that the US will never interfere in the "internal affairs" of Iraq, regarding the rights of the Kurds. Hammadi, the Iraqi Foreign Minister said, with regard to the Kurdish question, "There is no objection to developing relations with the United States on the economic and cultural level. Only on the basis of noninterference in internal affairs." Kissinger let that summation stand, though it was not what he had said exactly. In parting, Hammadi and Kissinger had this exchange:
Hammadi: Finally, I would like to say this Kurdish problem is of vital importance to us.
Kissinger: I can assure you. There will be no concern. One can do nothing about the past.
Indeed, this was one diplomatic commitment that the United States honored punctiliously. When the Saddam Hussein regime massacred tens or hundreds of thousands of Kurds in operation al Anfal in 1987, the United States raised no real objection. There is some justice to the indignation and sense of injustice of Iraqi officials who are being tried and hanged for the same offence twenty years after the fact, when they had originally been given, as they understood, a green light by Kissinger to pursue their "internal affairs" to their hearts' content. Of course, Kissinger would protest that he had no such intention, and very probably he did not. The context, after all, was that previously the US had aided Iranian efforts to support the Kurdish rebellion. Kissinger promised that the US would not be doing that in the future, but he probably didn't mean to imply that the US would be OK with Iraqi genocide of the Kurds.
The part of this conversation which caused the greatest stir when it was revealed, was this declaration by Henry Kissinger:
We can't negotiate about the existence of Israel, but we can reduce its size to historical proportions. I don't agree that Israel is a permanent threat. How can a nation of three million be a permanent threat? They have a technical advantage now. But it is inconceivable that peoples with wealth and skill and the tradition of the Arabs won't develop the capacity that is needed. So I think in ten to fifteen years, Israel will be like Lebanon-- struggling for existence, with no influence in the Arab world.
This is not a vision of Israel secure and at peace, but rather an Israel that would be like Lebanon - rent by civil war and subject to external interference, struggling for existence. That part of Kissinger's utterance is much more astonishing than the statement that the United States could reduce the size of Israel. Kenneth Stein agonized somewhat over whether or not Kissinger really meant what he had said:
Kissinger's statement to Hammadi that the U.S. envisioned Israel as becoming small and non-threatening like Lebanon may have been U.S. foreign policy, or his personal view, or ingratiating diplomacy, or some combination of the three. Regardless, Kissinger's comments were what Hammadi wanted to hear.
Stein also quoted a statement by Nixon to Syrian President Assad:
President Richard Nixon told Syrian president Hafez al-Assad that Washington was committed to seeing an "Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied territories" (cited by Stein as taken from "Letter from President Ford to Prime Minister Rabin, September 1, 1975," reproduced in Michael Widlanski, Can Israel Survive A Palestinian State? (Jerusalem: Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, 1990).
For some reason, Stein is also doubtful if this was the policy of the United States. The reason for his doubt is hard to understand. Both secret and public documents have made it clear that United States policy regarding Israel since the Six Day War was centered around the idea that the United States must get Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories in order to satisfy the Arab states. U.S. diplomats and legislators, beginning in 1967, bemoaned the fact that Israel had achieved the Six Day War victory without U.S. aid, and therefore the United States had no way to force its withdrawal. This is revealed, for example, in Senate Foreign Relations subcomittee hearings held on June 9, 1967:
It is a fact, is it not, that neither Soviet Russia nor the United States has given any material amounts of arms to Israel, and, if that is true, are they not relatively independent in their thinking at this point?
Secretary Rusk. No, we have provided tanks and Hawk missiles and certain other kinds of equipment to Israel, but their principal arms supplier has been France. And I am assuming that France, Britain, the Soviet Union, ourselves, would have to be involved in any discussion on this subject.
The Israeli air force is almost all French supplied.
It should be clear that "reducing the size of Israel" was always a goal of the United States since June 1967. On May 23, 1967, President Johnson had made a statement regarding US commitment to the territorial integrity of all nations, seemingly with the intention of reassuring Israel.. Following the June war, this statement was repeated, but now that Israel had conquered chunks of Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian territory, it took on a new meaning: The US would pressure Israel to withdraw from the conquered territories in return for peace. In a State Department telegram sent on June 12 to the US Embassy in Israel, the following wording was included:
As far as the attitude of the US is concerned, our principal points of departure are (a) President Johnson's reaffirmation on May 23 of long-standing American policy that "the United States is firmly committed to the support of the political independence and territorial integrity of all the nations of the area"; (b) the necessity to establish a regime of peace in the Near East in which neither side claims the right to infringe upon the rights of the other in the name of a state of belligerency; (c) the vital interest of the United States in its own relations with the Arab and Muslim world, a relationship in which Israel itself has an important stake; (d) the overriding necessity through magnanimous and imaginative policies to lay the foundation for a genuine reconciliation among the peoples of the Near East, even though it may require time. On the last point we know that you are at least as aware as we of the vital interest of Israel in its relations with its Arab neighbors who will number some 100 million people in the next quarter century.
Source: 273. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/ Washington, June 12, 1967, 10:37 p.m. /1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Eugene Rostow on June 11, cleared by Kohler and Battle, and approved by Katzenbach. Rostow had earlier initialed Rusk's approval. Repeated to Luxembourg as Tosec 20 for Rusk.
Ambassador Barbour replied on June 13 that he had in fact apprised Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban of these positions:
As to United States points of departure I mentioned President's reaffirmation on May 23 of our commitment to support the political independence and territorial integrity of all nations in the area, the necessity to establish a regime of peace eliminating claims by either side of the right to infringe on the rights of others because of belligerency, U.S. vital interests in relation to the Arab world, and the overriding necessity that through magnanimous and imaginative policies, the foundations laid for a genuine reconciliation among peoples of the area.
Source; 277. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State/1/ Tel Aviv, June 13, 1967, 1730Z. /1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Received at 3:16 p.m.
Yet again, from the same file, in response to Saudi and Aramco pressure on the U.S. regarding Israeli withdrawal, the following text was included in a telegram sent, also on June 13, from the U.S. State Department to the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia:
3. In connection problems growing out of recent Arab-Israel hostilities, you may call attention addressee governments to long-standing USG support for territorial integrity and political independence of all states of the Near East. This position was re-stated by President Johnson today./3/ The USG desires the maintenance of friendly ties with all the countries of the region. In our view it is of the first importance for all to take steps now to assure that there is an end to the periodic hostilities and the state of belligerency which have marked Near Eastern history in the last two decades. The USG is fully prepared to join the other states to work for lasting arrangements which will serve permanently to reduce tensions in this region.
Source: 282. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia/1/ [Washington, June 13, 1967, 9:54 p.m. /1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret. Drafted by Brewer on June 12; cleared by Battle, Solomon, and Director of the Office of Fuels and Energy John G. Oliver; and approved by Eugene Rostow. Also sent to Kuwait and repeated to Dhahran and London.]
And, from a later file of declassified documents, we have this statement:
The tough question is whether we'd force Israel back to 4 June borders if the Arabs accepted terms that amounted to an honest peace settlement. Secretary Rusk told the Yugoslav Foreign Minister: "The US had no problem with frontiers as they existed before the outbreak of hostilities. If we are talking about national frontiers--in a state of peace--then we will work toward restoring them."/7/ But we all know that could lead to a tangle with the Israelis.
Source: 455. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/ Washington, October 3, 1967. /1/Source: Johnson Library, President's Appointment File, October 4, 1967. Secret; Nodis. A handwritten "L" on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
Surely there was therefore every reason for both President Nixon and Henry Kissinger to make the statements they had made about Israeli withdrawal, and they were by no means expressing their private opinions, but rather the stated policies of the United States government. The Johnson administration was unable to fulfill its ambition of forcing Israeli withdrawal. The Arab states under the leadership of Nasser were too intransigent to make even a show of peaceful intentions, and adopted the Khartoum resolutions. At the same time, the United States had no leverage whatever on Israel, since it had not supplied the arms with which the Six Day War was won, and had in fact, reneged on its promise to support Israel's navigation rights when it was put to the test. In order to force Israeli withdrawal, the United States would first need to gain some leverage on Israel. The US adopted a two fold approach to regaining its standing in the Middle East. The first part was to make Israel dependent upon it for arms and diplomatic backing, while at the same time working for a permanent peace settlement and Israeli withdrawal. The "peace settlement" part would be satisfactory to the pro-Israel faction that was generally in charge in the White House, while the Israeli withdrawal part would satisfy the rank and file career diplomats of the State Department, who never had excessive love for Israel or people of the Jewish persuasion. This policy had further advantages. It could be marketed to supporters of Israel as a pro-Israel policy that sought peace, and would, as Kissinger noted even to the Iraqis, oppose the destruction of Israel, while it could be marketed to Arab states and their supporters as US opposition to annexation of Arab territory, and reduction of Israel's size. The most complete public expression of the policy was the Harold H. Saunders testimony of 1975, which explicitly called for a settlement of the Palestinian issue through Israeli territorial concessions. Implementation of the policy was aided by the fact that Israel lost the backing of France, which meant that it had neither a diplomatic champion nor an arms supplier, and was greatly dependent on the US. Yitzhak Rabin, when he was ambassador to the US, understood and emphasized that US support for Israel was due only to the perception that such support served US strategic interests. This fact was not always appreciated by Likud party politicians, who tended to believe in the political myth of US support for Israel because it is a democracy. In fact the US supports Israel in order to use return of the territories conquered in the Six Day War to gain leverage with Arab states. This policy worked admirably for many years.
By 1975, the US had purchased the leverage on Israel by its role in the Yom Kippur War, in which it had agreed to resupply Israel through the air-lift. The Yom Kippur war made it clear to Israel that the scale of military engagements in the Middle East had changed radically since 1967, and that it could therefore no longer be militarily independent. The quantities of armaments and materiel consumed in a few short days of fighting necessitated a replacement capacity that could not be provided in a practical way by increasing the capacity of the Israeli Military Industries. It was Kissinger who persuaded Nixon to resupply the Israelis in 1973, and it was Kissinger who then used the leverage purchased that way to push for Israeli withdrawals in Sinai. The fruits of this policy for the US were the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and US displacement of Russian influence in Egypt, and eventually, the Jordanian - Israeli peace treaty and the Oslo process. The aftermath of 9-11 and the miscarriage of the Oslo process poses a dilemma for the United States, especially as domestic pressure mounts for a gracious exit from Iraq. The conviction has grown in the US that somehow an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement will help to remedy US failures in Iraq, but such an agreement does not appear to be practicable. In the wake of 9-11, the US clearly cannot indulge Islamist extremism, but on the other hand, the people in charge in a large part of Palestine as of 2007 are Islamist extremists.
Likewise, Americans need to take into account that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements did not necessarily gain power and influence as a result of the Israeli occupation itself. Rather, they gained power by capitalizing on opposition to the US sponsored peace process, and by labeling those Palestinians who participated in the process as traitors. This enabled them to garner the political support of extremist elements in Palestinian society. At the same time, they became the favored recipients of aid from Iran and other elements who want to see the peace process fail precisely because if it succeeds, it would be a great victory for American policy. Likewise, it should not escape the notice of acute analysts that if Israel ever does return all of the territories, then Israel would be of no further use in American attempts to ingratiate itself with the Arabs, and at the same time, America would have very little leverage with the Arabs unless it pressed Israel for further concessions. Without doubt, there are those in the US diplomatic corps who would not be averse to exerting such pressure. We should recall that in the early 50s, the US was behind a plan to get Israel to make concessions to Egypt in the Negev.
In any case, what Kissinger told the Iraqis was apparently, a slightly "adapted" version of actual US policy. If it was shocking to some people, it is because they never understood and didn't want to understand what had been spelled out plainly many times.
This introduction is copyright © 2007 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Information Center. The document below is in the public domain. It was published at http://www.meforum.org/article/1032
Sadun Hammadi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq
Falih Mahdi ‘Ammash, Iraq Ambassador to France
____ ____, Aide
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
Isa Sabbagh, Public Affairs Officer, American Embassy Jidda
Peter W. Rodman, National Security Council staff
DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, December 17, 1975, 12:20 p.m. – 1:18 p.m.
PLACE : Iraqi Ambassador's Residence
Rue d'Andigne, Paris XVI
Kissinger: Our two countries have not had much contact with each other in recent years, and I wanted to take this opportunity to establish contact. I know we won't sole [sic] all our problems in one meeting. It will take at least two. [Laughter]. I thought a brief exchange of views would be helpful, and I appreciate your courtesy in receiving me.
Hammadi: I am glad to see you, Your Excellency. We haven't had contacts, for reasons that you know and we know. It is always useful to exchange views.
Kissinger: Our basic attitude is that we do not think there is a basic clash of national interests between Iraq and the United States. For a variety of reasons, Iraq and the United States have been on opposing sides. But we have managed to normalize relations with most of the other Arabs. On purely national grounds, we see no overwhelming obstacles on our side. Maybe you have a different view.
Hammadi: We, of course, have different views, and I will tell you why. Iraq is part of the Arab world. We believe the United States has been the major factor in building up Israel to what it is today.
Hammadi: It was created in 1948 and could not have lived up to this day without the United States.
Kissinger: The Soviet Union was active then, too.
Hammadi: True. That is why there were some strained relations with the Soviet Union. Our good relations with the Soviet Union are only more recent. The Communists were not popular with the masses then. But the difference is you believe Israel is there to stay. We believe Israel was established by force and is a clear-cut case of colonialism. Israel was established on part of our homeland. You don't believe that. But that is not the whole story. Israel is now a direct threat to Iraq's national security.
Kissinger: How to Iraq?
Hammadi: Israel has built up to a military power that can threaten Iraq, especially with the recent news that we read of the U.S. supplying sophisticated weapons. So it is not only the Arab world that is threatened, and Iraq being part of the Arab world, but Iraq itself. We think the U.S. is building up Israel to have the upper hand in the area. Even Lebanon--they say it affects Israel's security. A strong, powerful, nuclear Israel with the upper hand in the area. Whatever happens in the Arab world is interpreted as a threat to Israel. Even a change in government in Iraq would be interpreted that way.
Kissinger: My impression is if you change your government in Iraq, they won't object. [Laughter]. I understand your problem.
Hammadi: This is my painting of the picture now--up to 1980. You say the United States is bringing all its weight to bring about a settlement. But this is a settlement, not peace. A new wave of troubles and clashes will start because Israel is not a state to stay within what they are. Because if there is an opportunity, they will expand. The record shows it. And they are supported by the biggest power in the area. What the United States is doing is not to create peace but to create a situation dominated by Israel, which will create a new wave of clashes.
Kissinger: I understand what you are saying. When I say we are willing to improve relations with Iraq, we can live without it. But it is our policy to move toward better relations. I think, when we look at history, that when Israel was created in 1948, I don't think anyone understood it. It originated in American domestic politics. It was far away and little understood. So it was not an American design to get a bastion of imperialism in the area. It was much less complicated. And I would say that until 1973, the Jewish community had enormous influence. It is only in the last two years, as a result of the policy we are pursuing, that it has changed.
We don't need Israel for influence in the Arab world. On the contrary, Israel does us more harm than good in the Arab world. You yourself said your objection to us is Israel. Except maybe that we are capitalists. We can't negotiate about the existence of Israel, but we can reduce its size to historical proportions. I don't agree that Israel is a permanent threat. How can a nation of three million be a permanent threat? They have a technical advantage now. But it is inconceivable that peoples with wealth and skill and the tradition of the Arabs won't develop the capacity that is needed. So I think in ten to fifteen years, Israel will be like Lebanon—struggling for existence, with no influence in the Arab world.
You mentioned new weapons. But they will not be delivered in the foreseeable future. All we agreed to is to study it, and we agreed to no deliveries out of current stocks. So many of these things won't be produced until 1980, and we have not agreed to deliver them then.
Our policy is to move our policy towards peace and to improve relations with the Arab world. Iraq is not a negotiator, but I think the policy of Egypt and Syria to improve relations with us helps us to bring pressure for a settlement.
The Israelis like you better than [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat because they like to put it in terms of a U.S.-Soviet problem. We don't want you to have unfriendly relations with the Soviet Union; we don't interfere in your relations with the Soviet Union. But basically, the Israelis prefer radical Arabs.
If the issue is the existence of Israel, we can't cooperate. But if the issue is more normal borders, we can cooperate..
We have moved toward normalization with others--except Libya. South Yemen, we will move towards.
Hammadi: We are on the other side of the fence. We have the right to ask many questions..
Hammadi: Given the record, what can make us believe the United States won't continue the policy of the last twenty years of giving unlimited support.
Kissinger: It depends on what you mean by unlimited support. One important change in America … Sabbagh was with me when I saw Faisal for the first time. I told him it would take a few years; we would have to move slowly. I have told all the Arabs this. It has now reached the point in America where attitudes have changed. When I testify to congressional committees, I face increasingly hostile questions about Israel. No one is in favor of Israel's destruction--I won't mislead you--nor am I.
But the support in the 1960s was $200-300 million. Now it is $2-3 billion. That is impossible to sustain. We can't even get it for New York. It is just a matter of time before there is a change—two to three years. After a settlement, Israel will be a small friendly country with no unlimited drawing right. It will be affected by our new electoral law, strangely enough. So the influence of some who financed the elections before isn't so great. This has not been so noticed. It will take a few years before it is fully understood..
So I think the balance in America is shifting. If the Arabs--if I can be frank--don't do anything stupid. If there is a crisis tied to the Soviet Union, groups in America could make it an anticommunist crusade.
Hammadi: So you think the U.S. policy after a settlement wouldn't be the same?
Kissinger: We want the survival of Israel but not dominating the area. No one can conquer the Arab world. Even if they take Damascus, Cairo, and Amman, you will be there, and Libya will be there. So if Israel wants to survive as a state like Lebanon--as a small state--we can support them.
Hammadi: What is the Israeli thinking?
Kissinger: First, they want to get rid of me. Because I made them go back. Second, in 1976, they want to provoke the Arabs--in Lebanon, in Syria--because they think if there is war they can win and create great turmoil. Third, they want to pass legislation in America to antagonize as many Arabs as possible. So we get the anti-boycott, anti-discrimination, anti-arms sales legislation. They hope the Arabs will go back to a situation like 1967-1973 when the Syrians and Egyptians adopt an anti-American line. So they can say they are the only American friend in the Middle East. What they want is what you predict—that they be the only friend. We want other friends, to reduce that argument.
Aide: Your Excellency, do you think a settlement would come through the Palestinians in the area? How do you read it? Is it in your power to create such a thing?
Kissinger: Not in 1976. I have to be perfectly frank with you. I think the Palestinian identity has to be recognized in some form. But we need the thoughtful cooperation of the Arabs. It will take a year or a year and a half to do it and will be a tremendous fight. An evolution is already taking place.
Aide: You think it will be part of a solution?
Kissinger: It has to be. No solution is possible without it. But the domestic situation is becoming favorable. More and more questions are being asked in Congress favorable to the Palestinians.
Hammadi: Do you think a Palestinian state is possible?
Kissinger: We don't exclude it as a matter of principle. You can't do it now.
Hammadi: What about Palestinians who are now refugees? The Palestine area is now crowded--Gaza and the West Bank.
Kissinger: They should have a choice, either to stay where they are or go to a Palestinian state.
Hammadi: You think some in, say, the Galilee area might choose to leave Israel and join the new Palestinian state?
Kissinger: In Galilee?
Hammadi: Arab Israelis.
Kissinger: I have told friends that peace isn't a final end. Wars begin elsewhere between countries that are at peace. Only in the Middle East do wars begin between countries that are at war. But we support the existence of Israel. We draw the line at the destruction of Israel.
Aide: The Palestinians already put aside this idea. This is my personal view. Because the Israelis are trying to buy land in the Galilee area, and there is resistance. The Communist Party in the area is using it in the municipal elections. Is this because the Israelis are looking to the creation of a Palestinian state and want to buy this land?
Kissinger: It could be in their minds. I am not familiar with it.
Aide: This is being used by the Communist Party in the area. The Israelis know you Americans are behind the idea of a Palestinian state.
Kissinger: We have to be careful and move gradually. The Israeli press accuses me. I have said we can't move to the Palestinians until they accept the existence of the State of Israel and Security Council Resolution 242. I have never excluded the recognition of the PLO; I have always tied it to recognition of Israel and 242. The implication is we will do something if they do recognize Israel and 242.
Aide: Kaddumi says: "How can we recognize Israel if they don't recognize the PLO?"
Kissinger: With all respect, what Israel does is less important than what the United States does.
Hammadi: Your Excellency, your and our points of view are different. You are for the existence of Israel; we are not. So on this point I don't think we can agree. Maybe we can talk of other aspects. We are not against improving relations with any state, even states with whom we have basic differences. We read in the newspapers the United States was providing weapons to the Kurdish movement in the north of Iraq. Our attitude is not based on that; we have a reason to believe the U.S. was not out of this. What is your view?
Kissinger: When we thought you were a Soviet satellite, we were not opposed to what Iran was doing in the Kurdish area. Now that Iran and you have resolved it, we have no reason to do any such thing. I can tell you we will engage in no such activity against Iraq's territorial integrity and are not.
Hammadi: This is a result of that agreement? That you think we are not satellites?
Kissinger: We have a more sophisticated understanding now. We think you are a friend of the Soviet Union, but you act on your own principles.
Hammadi: Next year, if we sign an economic agreement with the Soviet Union, will you go back to the other view?
Kissinger: I wouldn't be here if we were not willing to have a new relationship with Iraq. If you have an economic relationship with the Soviet Union, that is your business. We don't interfere. It is our view that you are pursuing your own policies. We don't like what you are doing on your own. [Laughter]. We are moving toward more complex relations with the Arabs. Our policy now we don't think is inconsistent with the integrity and the dignity of Iraq.
Hammadi: We have different concepts. We have relations with the Soviet Union; we import arms from the Soviet Union. That led the United States to intervene and encourage a movement that would cut our country to pieces.
Kissinger: That goes too far. We were not the principle country involved there.
Hammadi: But the United States contributed arms in a way.
Kissinger: In a way.
Hammadi: And the Kurds wanted to cut Iraq to pieces.
Kissinger: There is no purpose discussing the past. I can only tell you what our intentions are. I understand what your concerns and suspicions are. We can wait. We need not draw any practical conclusions from this meeting.
Hammadi: Our concern is, has the United States really changed its position? What would insure that this would not be repeated in the future? Any time any country exercises its sovereign right, the United States gets involved in an activity that goes to the heart of its integrity?
Kissinger: Take Syria. Syria gets all its arms from the Soviet Union. The Syrians will confirm we have never interfered in their affairs and never interfered in their military relationship with the Soviet Union. We have made diplomatic attempts to influence their policy, which is normal. So with more mature relations with the Arabs, that is excluded.
Hammadi: What about Lebanon?
Kissinger: We have stayed out of Lebanon. We have done nothing in Lebanon. My view is that the Moslem weight will have to increase. We have had many talks with the Syrians and the Saudis, but we have not engaged in any intelligence activities. That I can tell you. I mean, we collect information but not arms.
Hammadi: The United States is not in favor of dividing the country?
Kissinger: We are opposed.
Hammadi: The United States is not involved but would oppose.
Kissinger: We have not been asked, but if we were, we would oppose. I have made repeated public statements in favor of the integrity of Lebanon.
Hammadi: I am glad to hear it because we in Iraq are very sensitive to territorial integrity. Why are you opposed?
Kissinger: Because we believe the basis for peace in the Middle East is the integrity of the States in the area. Then you would have two more fragments. A Christian state would have to find outside support, and a Moslem state would have to find outside support. It would add instability. You must know we are for the unity of Lebanon.
Hammadi: We were concerned about Israeli intervention.
Kissinger: We have strongly warned Israel about it. It would only gain them another few hundred thousand Arabs and make a settlement impossible.
Hammadi: Is anyone internationally favoring a split?
Kissinger: No one I can see.
Hammadi: None of the big powers?
Kissinger: The Europeans like to play without risk. In the Middle East, you can't play without risk. I tell you flatly, we won't support it. We are prepared to cooperate to support the unity of Lebanon. We are only afraid that if we become active, the Soviet Union will become active. We have talked to Syria and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Algeria.
Hammadi: I would like to sum it up—our concern in our bilateral relations. We differentiate between political and other kinds of relations. A few years ago, we lumped them all together. Economically, technically, Iraq is not closed to the United States. There is no objection to developing relations with the United States on the economic and cultural level. Only on the basis of noninterference in internal affairs. There are some U.S. companies in Iraq, and they are assured they are treated fairly. On the political level, we broke relations for a reason, and we think the reason stands.
Kissinger: Leaving aside diplomatic relations--and you will want to think about it--if we want to exchange views, we could send somewhat more senior people to the Interest Sections in each other's capital.
Hammadi: But the higher the level of representatives, the closer we are getting to diplomatic relations.
Kissinger: But how do we do it? Through the U.N. mission? Or your people in Washington?
Hammadi: We can do it on a case-by-case basis.
Kissinger: All right. When you come to New York, we can meet. We can do it on a case-by-case basis. You will see: our attitude is not unsympathetic to Iraq. Don't believe me; watch it.
Hammadi: We are a small state. We have to be more careful.
Kissinger: Things will evolve. We can stay in touch through Washington or New York.
Hammadi: Finally, I would like to say this Kurdish problem is of vital importance to us.
Kissinger: I can assure you. There will be no concern. One can do nothing about the past.
Hammadi: Not always.
[The Foreign Minister escorted Secretary Kissinger and his party to the door.]
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