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118. Backchannel Message From the Egyptian Presidential Adviser for National Security Affairs (Ismail) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

A. Dr. Zayat has conveyed to us the talks and discussions that have taken place between the two of you in the last few days.

B. I would like, in conformity with the spirit of frankness that prevailed in our meetings, to make a few remarks concerning the points which were brought up during your discussions:

1. The engagements taking place at present in the area should not arouse any surprise to all those who have followed the continuous Israeli provocations not only on the Syrian and Lebanese lines but also on the Egyptian front. We have many times drawn the attention to such provocations which never ceased in spite of international condemnation.

2. Egypt therefore had to take a decision to confront any new Israeli provocations with firmness, and consequently took the necessary precautions in order to face any such Israeli action similar to that over Syria on 13 September 1973.2

3. The clashes that occurred on the canal front as a result of the Israeli provocations, were intended from our side to show to Israel that we were not afraid or helpless and that we refuse to capitulate to the conditions of an aggressive planning to retain our land as hostage for bargaining.

4. As a result of the engagements a new situation has been created in the area and although it is natural to expect new developments within the coming few days, we would like to define the framework of our position.

5. Our basic objective remains as always, the achievement of peace in the Middle East and not to achieve partial settlements.

6. We do not intend to deepen the engagements or widen the confrontation.

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C. I reckon you have received from Mr. Rockefeller our President’s reply to your message, in which reply our position, as pointed out since our first contact was reaffirmed.3 Allow me to make it clear once more:

1. Israel has to withdraw from all occupied territories.

2. We will be then prepared to participate in a peace conference in the U.N. in whatever agreeable form, whether it be under the auspices of the Secretary General or the representatives of the permanent members of the Security Council or any other suitable body.4

3. We agree to the freedom of navigation in the Straits of Tiran and we accept, as a guarantee, an international presence for a limited period.

D. I feel confident that you will appreciate that this reexplanation of our position emanates from a real and genuine desire for the realization of peace and not from readiness to start a series of concessions. In fact we remember that Mr. Rogers impaired peace chances when he mistakenly interpreted our peace initiative of February 1971 in such a manner that deviated it from its true nature and objective.

Please accept my best wishes.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail Vol. VII, October 1–31, 1973. Secret; Sensitive. Enclosed in an October 7 memorandum to Kissinger, which indicated the message was received in Cairo at 9 p.m.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 93.
  3. Not found.
  4. Kissinger spoke with Nixon at 2:07 p.m. about the possibility of calling for a Security Council meeting. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22) At 4:55 p.m., Kissinger telephoned Zayyat and informed him that the United States was going to call for a Security Council meeting the next day. He said he wanted to explain that the United States was doing this as a matter of principle of not having a war going on that was not even discussed in the United Nations. He said that the United States would conduct the debate on its side without criticism of any country and that he would let the Foreign Minister know if the United States decided to put forward a resolution. Zayyat commented that it would be very embarrassing and that Egypt would object. (Ibid.) Both transcripts are printed in Kissinger, Crisis, pp. 94–96, 102–104.