303. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Ismail Fahmi, Egyptian Foreign Minister
  • Abdullah al-Erian, Egyptian Ambassador to France
  • William B. Quandt, NSC Staff

F.M. Fahmi: We were planning on meeting at two o’clock.

Sec. Kissinger: That’s right. Then you’ll see the President at three.

F.M. Fahmi: I have an urgent message from President Sadat that I thought you should see before I meet with the President.

Sec. Kissinger: Thank you. [See attached text of President Sadat’s message.]

F.M. Fahmi: Let me explain that when we talk of participation by the parties we mean Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel and also Lebanon and the Palestinians.

Sec. Kissinger: Why Lebanon?

F.M. Fahmi: This has to do with a final settlement. Lebanon still has armistice lines with Israel. They should be included.2

Sec. Kissinger: This is a comprehensive settlement plan that you propose.

F.M. Fahmi: Yes, but it doesn’t include all details. For example, it doesn’t say anything about UN forces at Sharm al-Shaykh, or about Gaza, or about demilitarized zones. This is just a basic framework.

[Page 801]

Sec. Kissinger: I assume you don’t need any immediate reaction. The problems of the October 22 line seem most urgent. This is a complex proposal.

F.M. Fahmi: The agreement on the October 22 lines can be implemented.

Sec. Kissinger: I told you what I thought we could get from the Israelis. But we can’t get an unlimited resupply of the Third Army.

F.M. Fahmi: I am not talking of unlimited resupply. I am talking of non-military resupply under the UN forces.

Sec. Kissinger: But only if Israel withdraws to the October 22 line.

F.M. Fahmi: That’s right. The October 22 lines are also linked with the prisoner of war exchange.

Sec. Kissinger: On the broader proposals you have here, there are two ways of doing this. One is that we consider this as a package.

F.M. Fahmi: This is just the sequence of things.

Sec. Kissinger: I understand that. There are two possible approaches. One, we can work now immediately on the ceasefire lines, or we can deal with everything in a package.

F.M. Fahmi: This isn’t a package. This is just the sequence of events.

Sec. Kissinger: The big problem is that if we recommend to Israel to return to the October 22 lines, we can only do this if you agree to non-military resupply of the Third Army.

F.M. Fahmi: I agree to that, on a permanent basis, even after they return. I know what I am saying. But I want you to understand that it is not in the interest of the United States to tip the military balance in their favor.

Sec. Kissinger: We will oppose any Israeli offensive from the West Bank salient, no matter what the circumstances. We will do this before and after any outbreaks of fighting.

F.M. Fahmi: Can you guarantee that they will not budge from the October 22 lines?

Sec. Kissinger: You won’t mind if they move back from those lines, will you? We will assure you that they will not move in an offensive against you from those lines.

F.M. Fahmi: Then the United States assures us that Israel will stay within the October 22 lines?

Sec. Kissinger: That’s okay. The document you have given us has some possibilities for progress in it. We will have Prime Minister Meir here tomorrow. I will see her in the morning for breakfast, and the President will see her at noon. We can talk to her. But let’s understand how we can proceed. We will say that Egypt agrees on a permanent basis [Page 802] that only non-military supplies will reach the Third Army under UN observation, once Israel has returned to the October 22 lines. Second, you agree that Israel and Egypt will exchange prisoners once Israel is at the October 22 lines. Third, we will give private assurances to Egypt that Israel will not launch any offensive beyond the October 22 lines if these arrangements are accepted.

F.M. Fahmi: You can’t let the Israelis use ceasefire violations as an excuse to attack. There’s a danger that they will create incidents in certain areas. The observers will not know of this unless we react, and if we react we will then be blamed for violating the ceasefire.

Sec. Kissinger: Mr. Foreign Minister, can you get the Soviets off my back? They are bringing me new schemes every day. They now say that both we and they have to send senior representatives to Cairo.

F.M. Fahmi: We have had some problems in communication.

Sec. Kissinger: We’ll deal with this issue next Tuesday3 when I am in Cairo.

F.M. Fahmi: Prior to diplomatic relations, we want a senior representative in Cairo.

Sec. Kissinger: We will send one as soon after Tuesday as is possible. This has nothing to do then with the Soviet requests? They are always bringing me messages from Sadat. You can come directly to me.

F.M. Fahmi: The Soviets are not speaking on Sadat’s behalf. I am the Foreign Minister.

Sec. Kissinger: We’ll send a senior representative right after my visit. He will stay there until we name an ambassador.

F.M. Fahmi: We want a senior man in a proper sense, because he may have to deal with the President directly.

Sec. Kissinger: Okay. We’ll send a senior man.

F.M. Fahmi: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Sec. Kissinger: [less than 1 line not declassified] But I can tell you that by the end of next week we will have a senior man in Cairo. Now, I’ve got to go. I have people waiting. Come back at 2:30 and we can talk for fifteen minutes or so before you see the President.4 Then we will want to talk about my trip.

F.M. Fahmi: I’ll be here tomorrow if you want to talk then.

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I. The most immediate steps which would be conducive to strengthening the ceasefire phase and the conduct of peace negotiations consist of:

1. Observation of the ceasefire.

2. Stationing of UN forces in necessary and appropriate points.

3. Return of Israeli forces to the positions of October 22.

The aforementioned steps were specifically ordered by the Security Council and need not be the subject of any delay or contact between the parties.

II. When Israeli forces return to the October 22, 1973, position, an exchange of all prisoners of war will take place.

III. Israeli forces are then to withdraw to a line inside Sinai to be agreed upon by the military. This line should lie as a matter of principle to the east of the passes.

IV. In order that the disengagement be effective, a zone as wide as possible should separate the forces of the two sides. UN forces will be stationed in such a zone, which to the west will have Egyptian forces in their present position.

V. As soon as all Israeli forces proceed eastward to the disengagement zone, the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea will be effected. [In other words, the blockade of Bab al-Mandab will be lifted.]

VI. When Israeli forces reach the disengagement zone and UN forces are stationed therein, the operation of clearing the Suez Canal would begin.

VII. The disengagement stage is to be followed by another single stage, namely, the withdrawal to the international frontier. The time limit for such withdrawal is to be set up.

VIII. When UN forces reach the international frontier, the state of belligerency terminates.

IX. In the course of preparation of the disengagement phase concerning Egypt and Israel, a parallel phase is to be set up for Syria.

X. At the same time as the disengagement zone is set up separating forces east of the passes, a peace conference under UN auspices is con[Page 804]vened with participation of all parties, including the Palestinians. The big powers should participate in the peace conference as well.

  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. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Quandt. The meeting took place in Kissinger’s White House Office. Brackets are in the original.
  2. In telegram 12587 from Beirut, October 30, Buffum reported that Lebanese President Frangieh told him that the United States had about 2 months to make a breakthrough toward a peace settlement before there was a fully united Arab stand against U.S. economic interests. Frangieh also said that a small UN peacekeeping force should be stationed in southern Lebanon and that the Government of Lebanon wanted to participate in an early stage of the peace negotiations. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  3. November 6.
  4. The President met with Fahmi and Kissinger from 3:27 to 4:15 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  5. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Oral note delivered to Secy Kissinger by F.M. Fahmi, 1:02 p.m., Wed., 10/31/73.”