225. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant (Haldeman)1

This meeting was held at the Secretary’s request to discuss matters concerning his forthcoming trip to Europe and the Middle East2 and to [Page 824] review possible questions that will arise at his press conference tomorrow morning.3

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East.]

On the question of Israel, the Secretary made the point that the present Israeli position is that they will continue to operate as they have been; that is, to keep negotiating, talking, and maneuvering, but take no action or arrive at no decision. The Secretary’s view is that Israel should be urged continually to come to a settlement, that their position is stronger now than it’s going to be in the future, and therefore it’s to their advantage to settle now. The Egyptians have basically agreed to give them all that they’ve demanded and there’s no reason for Israel to continue to refuse to settle.

The Secretary then listed his other stops—Paris to touch base with the French—then on to Turkey for the CENTO meetings. It was agreed that he should try to deal with the dope problem while in Turkey and to make some publicity on this since it would be of considerable domestic, political value to do so.

Then on to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon, from there to Egypt, then Israel, then a courtesy stop in Italy on the way back.

There was considerable additional discussion of the Egypt-Israeli question all to the same basic point outlined above. The President told the Secretary to make it clear to Mrs. Meir that we will continue to maintain the balance and that we do this in spite of the fact that we have no political support from the American Jewish community.

The Secretary indicated that he feels Ambassador Rabin has a more realistic view than the Israeli government and that it still may be possible to convince the Israelis that continued resistance to a settlement will not serve their own purposes. It was agreed that the Secretary should not push the Israelis, but should make our position clear to them.

The President put the direct question to the Secretary as to whether he felt there was any basis to the danger expressed by Attorney General Mitchell and others recently that the Israelis’ threat to go to war was a real one that should be of major concern to us. The Secretary thought there was no such possibility, that the Israelis have nothing to gain from going to war, they have everything they want now and the Egyptians also have nothing to gain from going to war. The Russians have given them full defensive capability and back-up and assured them that they will help them to defend themselves and they know that the Russians don’t want a war. So, it’s to both parties’ interest to avoid war [Page 825] at this time and in the Secretary’s view, to the Israelis’ interest to move to a settlement at this time, if only we can persuade them to do so.

The Secretary made the point that he will urge progress by Israel but in no way will he dictate anything to them. He will make sure that he stays out of the negotiations and avoids getting into the role of a mediator. He will emphasize even balance in all of his activities in Egypt vs. his activities in Israel—spending two days in each and doing the same kinds of things in each country.

He will keep the settlement idea out as a goal, recognizing that it will take a year probably, before we can achieve it, but he will urge something now on the part of Israel—such as a Suez settlement.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East.]

At the conclusion the President asked the Secretary to send him a personal, brief report each day from the important countries so that he would be able to keep on top of the major matters covered by the Secretary during the day. He explains the need for this arose from the very high press interest that there will be in the Secretary’s trip4 and the need to keep Ron Ziegler fully posted and coordinated from this end as well as the President’s desire to stay current with developments as the Secretary’s trip progressed.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 129, Country Files, Middle East. No classification marking. “Top Secret” is handwritten in the upper right-hand corner. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted by the editors.
  2. The President and Rogers met from 3:32 to 4:35 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) A recording of the conversation is ibid., White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 486–7. Rogers left Washington on April 27; traveled to London, Ankara, Beirut, Amman, Riyadh, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Rome; and returned on May 9.
  3. For the transcript of Rogers’s press conference on April 23, see the Department of State Bulletin, May 10, 1971, pp. 593–600.
  4. In an April 26 conversation with Ziegler, Nixon instructed him on how to handle questions from the media about Rogers’s trip: “As the Secretary has indicated, you should expect no dramatic breakthroughs in terms of agreement. But the purpose of this trip is to keep the momentum going—to keep the cease-fire going, to listen to both sides, to talk to both sides. The President strongly [unclear]. Here again—that he’s particularly—that this will be the Secretary’s first visit to Israel. He’s glad that the Secretary will have a chance to visit Israel, as the President has done. You can say that. He’s also very glad the Secretary is going to Egypt. This is the first time in history that a Secretary of State has visited a country which denies it diplomatic relations. The President urged this. His goal—his long-range goal—is to reestablish diplomatic relations with Egypt.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 488–6)