I am delighted to respond to your note with a brief statement on the current situation as we see it. I entirely share your view that it is good for the President and the Senate to be in close touch on this matter.
Our most urgent present concern is to find a way to bring the fighting in the Middle East to an end. We are deeply concerned that there has not yet been an effective response to the two unanimous votes by which the UN Security Council has called for a cease-fire. While the representative of Israel agreed to comply if other parties also agreed, only Jordan, among the Arab States, has agreed to the cease-fire.
Ambassador Goldberg, on my instructions, has requested the immediate convening of another Security Council session, to deal with the current situation, and we have presented a Resolution whose text I attach.
The fighting has already brought the suffering and pain that comes with all such conflict. These losses have included the lives of Americans engaged in the work of peaceful communication on the high seas. On this matter we have found it necessary to make a prompt and firm protest to the Israel Government which, to its credit, had already acknowledged its responsibility and had apologized. This tragic episode will underline for all Americans the correctness of our own urgent concern that the fighting should stop at once.
So we continue to believe that a cease-fire is the urgent first step required to bring about peace in that troubled part of the world. At the same time we know, of course, that a cease-fire will be only a beginning and that many more fundamental questions must be tackled promptly if the area is to enjoy genuine stability. Our new Resolution begins to deal with some of these questions.
Let me emphasize that the U.S. continues to be guided by the same basic policies which have been followed by this Administration and three previous Administrations. These policies have always included a consistent effort on our part to maintain good relations with all the peoples of the area in spite of the difficulties caused by some of their leaders. This remains our policy despite the unhappy rupture of relations which has been declared by several Arab states.
We hope that the individual states in the Middle East will now find new ways to work out their differences with each other by the means of peace, and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. We look beyond the current conflict to a new era of greater stability which will permit all the peoples of the area to enjoy the fruits of lasting peace. Our full efforts will be directed to this end.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON
P.S. While this letter was in the typewriter I learned of the announcement, in the proceedings of the Security Council, that the United Arab Republic accepts the cease-fire resolutions subject only to acceptance by Israel. Thus we seem at the edge of progress in the directions this letter indicates. You can be sure that this Government will continue its work for peace, especially in the Security Council where Ambassador Goldberg has done such brilliant and productive work in the last days.
[The Honorable Mike Mansfield, United States Senate, Washington, D.C.]Note: The United States resolution of June 8, 1967, on the situation in the Middle East is printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 56, p. 948).
Senator Mansfield's letter, dated June 8, was made public by the White House Press Office with the President's reply. The text follows:
Dear Mr. President:
As I said this morning, it would be a great help to me, and I think to the Senate as a whole, if we could have your own current views on the situation in the Middle East. That situation has developed so rapidly in recent days, and the issues before us there are of such great importance that the Senate would be grateful, I am sure, to have your own present assessment.