235. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Hijacking Situation Report—10:30 a.m. Sunday Morning

This morning some 350 passengers were safely evacuated from Jordan leaving some 50–60 still in PFLP hands. What is the process this morning is the shaking out of a new and perhaps more difficult negotiating situation surrounding the remaining 50–60 hostages. At this point, the Red Cross may be re-engaging in Amman, but that is not yet clear. So far the Bern group is holding firm, though reports of a separate German deal continue.

The Passengers

All passengers released by the fedayeen have now left Jordan.

Some 50–60 passengers are not yet accounted for. Most of these are believed to be still in the hands of the PFLP as hostages.

Of those 50–60, 40 are American citizens.

Of those 40 Americans, 12 are dual nationals; 16–18 others are thought to be Jewish; 4 are U.S. Government employees.

Of the non-American hostages, 6 are Swiss; 6 are Germans; 6 or 7 are presumably British.

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The Negotiations

The Red Cross last night reluctantly agreed to place its negotiating role in a state of “temporary suspension” until the Red Cross negotiators could return from Amman to Bern to meet with the five-nation group there. This morning, however, the negotiators sent a message saying that their departure from Amman would be delayed because of new developments. As of 10:30 a.m. EDT we do not know whether the Red Cross has been re-engaged in negotiations by the PFLP or not.

Following last night’s meeting of the Bern group,2 the focus has turned sharply to the question of a prisoner exchange between Israel and the PFLP. The PFLP has still not provided a list of the prisoners it wants from Israel, and Israel still adamantly refuses to agree to the principle of an exchange. Israel is, however, building counter pressures: It has informed the Algerian Government via the Swiss that it would release two Algerian officials it holds, and it has rounded up a large number of PFLP sympathizers who live on the occupied West Bank and in Gaza and who presumably have relatives in Jordan.

The British are still holding firm with the united insistence on a package deal but are pressing the Israelis hard to make a contribution to the prisoner exchange. There are press reports of a separate West German deal but no official confirmation.

The Situation in Amman

Amman remained relatively quiet this morning.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 330, Subject Files, Hijackings. Secret. Sent for information. Haig initialed the memorandum for Kissinger.
  2. Reported in telegram 2235 from Bern, September 13, 0130Z. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, PS 7–6 JORDAN)