332. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Nixon1

Secretary Kissinger has sent you the following report2 of his meeting with King Faisal:

I met with King Faisal for three hours at the Royal Palace in Riyadh, late Thursday evening November 8.

First I gave him word of the agreement we had worked out with the Egyptians and Israelis to stabilize the ceasefire and ensure relief supplies to the Egyptian Third Army.3 He was pleased at the news. I then outlined again the strategy you intended to pursue in the coming weeks: to prepare the ground carefully in order to move decisively in the near future. Faisal was encouraged by this and assured me several times of his confidence in you and of his friendship for the United States.

In this context I raised the matter of easing the oil boycott. An energy crisis in America, I told him, would make your position very difficult. It would only strengthen the hand of those forces in the U.S. who were resisting a just settlement and who were seeking to undermine Presidential authority generally. I made the point subtly that we could handle an oil shortage economically but that its real significance was political and psychological as I described.

King Faisal assured me that nothing would please him more than to be able to maintain and even increase oil supplies to his American [Page 922]friends. But he emphasized he was under pressure from the radicals. He pointed out that all Arabs were united on the basic issues and he hoped we would move as expeditiously as possible toward a settlement. He did indicate that he would do his best to overcome his dilemma.

Immediately after our meeting the King sent his two principal advisers one after the other to encourage us in our present course. Prince Fahd, his Second Deputy Prime Minister, came by for a half hour, and Foreign Minister Saqqaf then met with me for an hour. Fahd said he would do his best to get the oil flowing again. The Foreign Minister said that Saudi Arabia was looking for an excuse to get out of its uncomfortable position of confrontation with the United States.4

Foreign Minister Saqqaf came by again this morning, November 9, before my departure. He said Saudi Arabia needed some pretext to change its position. He thought the announcement of the opening of the peace negotiations (now planned for November 20) could be the occasion for a formal communication by you to Faisal on the oil boycott. He thought the result might well be favorable.

I invited King Faisal to Washington on your behalf. He said he could not come until after some more progress had been made towards peace.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, [November–December 1973]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. Telegram Hakto 27, November 9, 0755Z, contained the report and asked Scowcroft to pass it to the President. (Ibid., Box 41, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Mideast, Islamabad, Peking, Tokyo, Seoul, HAKTO 1–60, Nov. 5–16, 1973) A memorandum of conversation is ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, [November–December 1973].
  3. See Document 324.
  4. Records of these meetings are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, [November–December 1973].