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I request you to circulate as an official document of the Security Council and of the General Assembly the attached letter dated 12 February 1976 from Mr. A. A. Gromyko, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, addressed to you on the question of the Middle East, which is a reply to your letter of 27 January 1976 1/ in connexion with the conclusion of the consideration by the Security Council of the Middle East question, including the Palestinian question.
Your message to the Co-Chairmen of the Geneva Peace Conference on the Middle East in connexion with the results of the consideration of the Middle East problem in the Security Council has been carefully considered. Your initiative is duly appreciated in Moscow and we share your concern at the persisting tension in the area of the Middle East, which represents a danger to the cause of peace. It is quite evident that Israel's continuing occupation of the Arab territories and its disregard of the legitimate national rights of the Arab people of Palestine remain fraught with the threat of new military explosion, the consequences of which may seriously affect the whole international situation. Such a course would be in the interests only of those who would like to use the lack of a settlement of the Middle East crisis and the absence of a lasting peace in the area for their own narrow purposes.
The fact that Israel and those who support it continue their efforts to keep the whole problem of the Middle East settlement deadlocked cannot but cause concern. The results of the recent consideration of this question in the United Nations Security Council testify to this. That organ was unable to reach a decision because of the position of one of the permanent members of the Security Council, although the overwhelming majority of its members definitely spoke out in favour of specific measures to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the Middle East problem.
In the course of the consideration of the situation in the Middle East in the General Assembly as well as in the Security Council, the Members of the United Nations, with very few exceptions, clearly expressed their opinion that genuine peace in the Middle East is impossible unless Israeli troops are withdrawn from all the Arab territories occupied by Israel in 19^7 and unless the inalienable national rights of the Arab people of Palestine are safeguarded and the right of all States of the region to independent existence and development is guaranteed.
The development of the situation around the problem of a Middle East settlement has clearly demonstrated that there is no other reliable way to achieve agreement on all the questions involved in a Middle East settlement except through the resumption of the work of the Geneva Conference - the international forum specially created for that purpose. That conference should, of course, be well prepared and all the parties directly concerned, including the Palestine Liberation Organization as well as the USSR and the United States, as the Co-Chairmen of the Conference, should participate in its work.
Without the participation of the Palestinians, the Geneva Conference would be not a forum for business-like negotiations but a camouflage aimed at creating a semblance of negotiations. I believe you will agree that such a turn of events would do nothing but harm since lack of progress would lead to a further aggravation of the situation in the Middle East and around it.
The Soviet Union considers that those Governments which impede the convening of the Geneva Conference, take upon themselves the responsibility for the consequences of such a policy.
The United Nations, with its high international prestige, can and should make an important statement on the questions relating to the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. You may rest assured that the Soviet Union, for its part, will continue to do everything in its power to achieve this goal. Such is the position of .principle of the USSR to which it will firmly adhere.
1/ The Secretary-General, in maintaining contacts with the Co-Chairmen of the Peace Conference on the Middle East, sent identical letters to them on 27 January 1976 in which he inquired about their thinking on ways of making progress towards a solution of the Middle East problem.