271. Backchannel Message From President Nixon to Egyptian President Sadat1

Secretary Kissinger requests that Mr. Ismail pass the following urgent communication from President Nixon to President Sadat:

We have received a proposal from the Soviet Union to dispatch a joint contingent of American and Soviet forces to the Middle East to enforce the ceasefire.2 This is a proposal to which we will not be able to agree for the reasons outlined in my earlier message.3 Forces to be effective would have to be so large that they could overpower on both sides.

I ask you to consider the consequences for your country if the two great nuclear countries were thus to confront each other on your soil. I ask you further to consider the impossibility for us for undertaking the diplomatic initiative which was to start with Dr. Kissinger’s visit to Cairo on November 7 if the forces of one of the great nuclear powers were to be involved militarily on Egyptian soil.

We are at the beginning of a new period in the Middle East. Let us not destroy it at this moment. In the meantime, as we have pointed out [Page 745]to you, we will use our influence with Israel to bring about the strictest observance of the Security Council Resolution.4

  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. No classification marking. A handwritten note on the message indicates that it was dispatched at 11:55 p.m. on October 24. It was sent in a message from Kissinger to Ismail. In his memoirs, Kissinger wrote that this message, approved during the 10:30 meeting, was an attempt to close off Soviet diplomatic options by inducing Cairo to withdraw its invitation to Moscow to send in Soviet troops. (Years of Upheaval, p. 588)
  2. Document 267.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 266.
  4. A reply from Sadat to Nixon was received at the Embassy in Cairo at 0815Z, 10:15 a.m. Cairo time, on October 25. The message reads: “I have received your two messages of October 25 (Cairo time—24 October Washington time). I understand the considerations you have put forward with respect to the use of a joint USUSSR force, and we have already asked the Security Council for the speedy dispatch of an international force to the area to review the implementation of the Security Council Resolutions. This we hope will pave the way toward further measures as envisaged in the October 22 Resolution of the Security Council aimed at establishing a joint peace in the area.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. VII, October 1–31, 1973)