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320. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 7. Please pass following report to President on my first day’s meeting with King Hassan in Rabat.2 I met privately with King Hassan in his private office at 11:00 pm Monday evening Nov 5, for an hour and 15 minutes. We had a general philosophical discussion of the Arab Israeli conflict.

He expressed his deep appreciation that you were showing such consideration towards Morocco by sending me to Rabat first. Under present circumstances this was an unforgettable gesture. He expressed great personal admiration for you. He pledged that his small country would do all could to facilitate your task in resolving the present crisis. He told me at the end that he would cable President Sadat after his meetings with me and tell Sadat that the United States and especially you were honorable and could be trusted. He would tell Sadat further that we were exact and precise, not romantic, and that confidence had to be built and secrecy had to be preserved. He will also write to Faisal. I thanked the King and told him this would help tremendously. Most of our conversation was taken with the King’s impressions of the Middle East and of the motivations of the Arab leaders.

—There were three categories of leaders: those who wanted peace and had the courage to say so (among whom he included Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Syria); those who wanted peace but could only follow others (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria); and those for whom peace is a difficult problem for domestic reasons (Iraq and Israel).

—The Palestinians, the King said, were the joker in the deck. This issue was an aphrodisiac for the Arabs; no one would dare do anything against the Palestinians. The King thought the Palestinians were interested in contact with the U.S., and that if the U.S. could win the confidence of the Palestinians, then no Arab nation would fail to follow.

—The King believed that Egypt and Syria were both firmly resisting Soviet influence. The Syrians he said, had withstood two years [Page 893]of Soviet pressure to sign a friendship treaty. The U.S. problem was to make up for time we had lost and to present some evidence of U.S. goodwill. The gap between the U.S. and these countries was wide, but it was a “sentimental gap,” not an ideological gap.

—It was the King’s judgment that the problem would be solved with Israel when it had leaders who belonged to the new generation. The new generation on both sides could talk to each other; the elders were the obstacle.

I told the King that we needed about one month to organize our strategy in the U.S. and prepare our domestic situation. We needed a strategy first, before coming up with any specific plan. Then we would move decisively. I hoped we could begin the negotiation process in December and begin to show progress in January.

In the meantime we needed from the Arabs some patience and some willingness not to make us waste our energies in epic struggles over trivia. The oil boycott, I also pointed out, worked against Arab interests because it would arouse public opinion in America against the Arabs. The King said he would use his influence in this sense.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 41, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Mideast, Islamabad, Peking, Tokyo, Seoul, HAKTO 1–60, Nov. 5–16, 1973. Top Secret; Immediate; Sensitive. Kissinger was in Rabat November 5–6, then stopped in Tunis on his way to Cairo, where he stayed November 6–7. He was in Amman November 8, Riyadh November 8–9, Tehran November 9, and Islamabad November 10, when he proceeded to Beijing, Tokyo, and Seoul. He returned to Washington November 16.
  2. A memorandum of conversation recording this meeting is ibid., Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Secretary Kissinger’s Trip to Middle East, November 5–10, 1973.
  3. Kissinger met again with Hassan on November 6. According to a memorandum of conversation, Kissinger insisted that “we must settle [the Middle East crisis] but not under Russian pressure. If there is Russian pressure, we will switch back to Israel because we must demonstrate that the Soviet Union can not settle the problem. There is no pressure from the Soviet Union now. For a week we tried not to do anything. If the Soviet Union would have stayed out, we would have stayed out. When the Soviet Union began sending arms, then it was no longer an Arab versus Israel conflict. It became a matter of suvival of the reasonable Arab countries.” (Ibid., RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–1977, Box 2, NODIS Action Memos 1973–1976) In telegram Hakto 12, November 7, Kissinger instructed Scowcroft to pass his report on his second day’s meeting with Hassan to the President. The King agreed completely that the massive Soviet resupply of the Arabs transformed the conflict from an Arab-Israeli dispute into an East-West confrontation. Kissinger noted that the United Sates had come to the aid of Israel only for that reason and that the survival of all the moderate Arab governments had been at stake. Hassan suggested that Kissinger tell Faisal that an energy crisis in the United States would backfire seriously against the Arabs. He offered to write to Faisal and said he was sending his Foreign Minister to other Arab countries to urge them to give the United States a chance. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 41, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Mideast, Islamabad, Peking, Tokyo, Seoul, HAKTO 1–60, Nov. 5–16, 1973)