170. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Connally and Lincoln Visits to Saudi Arabia

As you know, John Connally and Frank Lincoln have recently paid separate private visits to Saudi Arabia as the guests of King Faisal. Both will probably wish to report to you directly.

Frank Lincoln has cabled you a full report of his meetings with King Faisal and other Saudi officials. His summary memo for you is attached (Tab A).2 The highlights of his talks were:

  • — King Faisal said that there could be no further development of mutual Saudi-US economic interests or any further expansion of oil production without a political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Faisal said that he was coming under increasing pressure from the radical Arabs to cut off the oil supply now and, “with tears in his eyes,” urged that you force Israel to abide by Security Council resolution 242. [Page 541] (This is the strongest statement yet by Faisal and his first direct linkage of the Arab-Israeli problem with oil.)
  • Faisal’s intelligence chief suggested that it might be useful for Lincoln to see Sadat on an unofficial visit to Cairo as a private citizen but a friend of yours. Several Saudi ministers also suggested that you assign me to assist in finding and negotiating a solution to the Middle East problem.
  • Lincoln floated with several Saudi ministers an idea of setting up a semi-public board of Saudi and American businessmen which, among other things, would work on channeling Saudi investment money here. Those Saudis seemed generally favorable to this idea, although the King’s remarks would seem to inhibit implementation soon if he is serious.
  • —Saudi Oil Minister Zaki Yamani said that in the future there would have to be a two-way street, both economically and politically, between the US and other industrialized countries and Saudi Arabia. For instance, currently he was considering developing a vast petrochemical and related industrial program in Saudi Arabia in conjunction with the countries to which the Saudis are now selling their oil. Yamani seemed to best sum up an emerging Saudi attitude when he said: “You, the United States, need us more than we need you.”

John Connally’s experience with the Saudis was apparently about the same as Lincoln’s.3 Before he departed Saudi Arabia, Connally informed our ambassador that:

  • — King Faisal virtually monopolized their one hour and forty-five minute meeting talking about Zionism, Communism and Israel.
  • —As with Lincoln, Faisal forcefully stated and restated his belief that unless the US could achieve political progress on the Arab-Israeli dispute all other aspects of Saudi-US relations are likely to be adversely affected. The King listened to Connally’s statement regarding your continued active concern with the Middle East problem, but asserted that visible signs of progress are now of particular concern to Saudi Arabia. Connally attempted to raise other topics (such as Saudi leadership role in area and use of their growing monetary reserves) but the King could not be distracted from this central theme.
  • Connally found Prince Fahd firm on the question of Israel also but more temperate than the King. He found particularly noteworthy, Fahd’s judgment that, despite present appearances, an indefinite continuation of the present Arab-Israeli impasse could not be accepted by any Arab state for very long.
  • —To other Saudi officials, Connally indicated that the US would probably be sympathetic to increased oil imports from Saudi Arabia but at the same time vigorously urged greater Saudi (and also ARAMCO) imports of US manufactured goods.

It seems clear from the Connally and Lincoln talks that King Faisal is considering the idea of somehow bringing economic pressure to bear on the US to impose a peace settlement on Israel favorable to Arab interests. He may give us some time, but Faisal’s remarks seem to indicate that he will no longer remain in a passive wholly friendly posture indefinitely awaiting favorable US action to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute.

Prince Fahd—the powerful and friendly Interior Minister who will most likely succeed Faisal—is coming to the US in February on a private visit and has asked to see you. This would probably be especially useful given this new and harder Saudi position.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1287, Saunders Files, Saudi Arabia, 1972. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information.
  2. Tab A is attached but not printed.
  3. Connally’s report is in telegram 4175 from Jidda, December 19. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1287, Saunders Files, Saudi Arabia, 1972)