307. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ismail Fahmi, Acting Egyptian Foreign Minister
  • Abdallah El-Erian, Egyptian Ambassador to France
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Joseph J. Sisco, Asst. Secretary of State

Kissinger: I have given your ideas on both the ceasefire and the permanent non-military cargo plan, and as I predicted, the Israelis have to discuss this in the Cabinet.2 We have urged a continuous non-military supply. In the meantime, until I can discuss the October 22 solution, Israel is willing to exchange wounded with you and we will do what we can to continue the non-military supply. Can we agree?

Fahmi: You assure me on the permanent route but not on the October 22 position.

Kissinger: Realistically, she can agree on resupply from now until I get to Cairo; she has really already agreed to that.

Fahmi: I have been talking about a package of three points: The ceasefire; the exchange of wounded prisoners; Israel going back to the October 22 positions; and at that time all POWs would be exchanged. This is a package. She had time to know this.

Kissinger: The first time I discussed this with her was this morning.

Fahmi: I accept that. You told me you will use your influence to accept the above.

Kissinger: I said I would put it to her. This is as far as I could get her to go.

Fahmi: You said you would get them to agree to one convoy.

Kissinger: She has done it.

Fahmi: Only half. The trucks are moving slowly. Moreover, they will be in a position to transfer military equipment. If she is not ready to accept the return to the October 22 positions, then this needs action by the Security Council.

Kissinger: She will let us know what she will accept.

Fahmi: She cannot bargain on the return to the October 22 positions. The Security Council has decided the matter.

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Kissinger: There is so much I can do in one day. We need enough time to get realistic solutions. You can see what Israel is already saying about us in the newspapers.

Fahmi: Our writers do the same.

Kissinger: She says if there is an exchange of the wounded she can continue non-military cargos. I can cable on Monday3 to you if I can get a further answer. Moreover, what sense does a ceasefire make while blockading the Red Sea? These matters have to be linked.

Fahmi: As a quid pro quo, Mrs. Meir must agree not to add to her arsenal on the West Bank. She accepted Security Council Resolutions which called for a return to the October 22 positions.

Kissinger: The first Security Council resolution called for an end to all military activities and that applied to the blockade as well. There is no rational way to permit such sea activity.

Fahmi: Both sides must stop. This is the crux.

Kissinger: That is a reasonable position.

Fahmi: You are asking us to take an inferior position: She gets military equipment and oil; this is prevented to our Third Army in the East. I expected you to get agreement on the three points. The POW problem can be handled by the Red Cross in Geneva.

Kissinger: Our problem is to hopefully come up with an acceptable solution.

Fahmi: If you cannot give me a definite answer, does it mean she refused to return to the October 22 positions?

Kissinger: No. They have to consider these matters and they have to have an end to the blockade at Bab Al-Mandab. This would be complete.

Fahmi: This will complicate your position. You cannot do anything on oil unless she goes back to the October 22 positions.

Kissinger: If the oil embargos and curtailments are not stopped, we will have to stop our diplomatic efforts. There can be no pressure.

Fahmi: Before we have contacts with the other Arabs on the oil matter, we need proof.

Kissinger: In negotiating the October 22 line, nobody seems to know where it is.

Fahmi: We will use UN forces to find the locations.

Kissinger: I am trying to get you the principle of the return to the October 22 positions. Delineation could come later. I have to take into account the Israeli position. We are not in a position now to get agreement on the return to the October 22 position.

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Fahmi: I am not confusing the principle and the time to delineate.

Kissinger: The Russians wanted us to send a high-level representative to Cairo jointly to work on implementation of a ceasefire. We will not agree.

Fahmi: I did not ask for any such thing. Send us a senior diplomatic representative. If you want to know our position, talk to us, not to others.

Kissinger: We will agree to send you a good senior American representative.

Fahmi: The Soviets already have their man in Cairo. As soon as there is a return to the October 22 positions, there would be an exchange of POWs.

Kissinger: They will want an exchange of the POWs when they open the road to permanent resupply.

Fahmi: I hope you can settle this whole matter before you come to Egypt. If not, you cannot accomplish anything.

I want to tell you a little bit about your visit in Cairo. You will stay at the Aruba Palace. There is room for eight people. The others will stay at the Hilton. There will be a Presidential appointment, and you will be able to visit the pyramids at night. You will be given a luncheon and a dinner. The negotiating sessions will be in the ministry with me, the Foreign Minister. We want your entire group to be our guests with no exceptions.4

November 2–17, 1973

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office at the Department of State.
  2. See Documents 305 and 306.
  3. November 5.
  4. At 6:40 p.m., shortly after their meeting concluded, Fahmi called Kissinger to inform him that he (Fahmi) had just received two cables from Sadat, “one discouraging and one hopeful. The first one informs me that today Israeli planes invaded our air space west of Cairo and then they fired on one of our rockets. They fired at that position with a direct rocket, one of your latest. They say it was one of the televised rockets . . . from a distance of 25 to 10K and then they had a direct hit.This is very serious. The second promising thing is that you remember when you talked about this Monday [see Document 298]. I advised the President that we had to do something quiet about it.He responded that only for a week we together get along with things, you know, without infliction on the Egyptian President. On that particular point he is telling me that oil tankers with Liberian flag we let it go through at without any interception from our part. This encourages both of us to try to achieve something substantial before I go back . . . Now we have two indications, one very disturbing about flying and hitting about the ceasefire, and then there is this second promising one. I leave it up to you.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23)