341. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the U.S. Interests Section in Cairo1

Secto 150/1416. Subject: Middle East Negotiations.

1. Please deliver following message from me to Foreign Minister Fahmi:

2. Begin text:

Dear Mr. Foreign Minister:

I received word here in Peking of the signing of the six point agreement on Sunday,2 and want to congratulate President Sadat and you personally for the far-sighted statesmanship which made this outcome possible.

The agreement itself is of course of major importance but beyond that, I am heartened by the determination it reflects, on the part of both Egypt and Israel. To look ahead to the opportunity for negotiations on the broader issues between you, rather than backward to the sterile debates and bitter experiences of the past. I am confident the military representatives will approach the task of implementing the six point agreement in this same spirit.

The important thing now is to keep our eyes fixed on the forthcoming conference and to avoid anything which could complicate its getting started. I trust in particular that the immediate questions of the UN checkpoint, the unimpeded non-military supply of the Third Army, the agreed arrangements for Suez, and the exchange of prisoners can be worked out by the military representatives promptly and pragmatically in ways that take account of the essential political and military requirements of both sides. If this can now be accomplished, and as the Red Sea blockade ceases to be an issue, conditions can be quickly created in which a conference can begin [Page 943]unburdened by problems not related to the main questions to be negotiated.3

Finally, it seems to me that the less said about the specifics of a final settlement before the conference begins, the better, since such discussion tends to limit later negotiating flexibility on both sides. I have in mind two things in particular.

First, I understand that Dr. Zayyat has been discussing the elements of an Egyptian plan in certain European capitals. As I said in my meeting with President Sadat,4 the premature circulation of peace plans of any kind will make it particularly difficult for all of us, but especially the United States, when negotiations begin.

Second, I am told that the Foreign Ministers of the Organization of African Unity plan to meet November 19–20, and that there is also talk of a possible Arab summit. I am concerned that such meetings will take the initiative away from the parties to the negotiations and adopt public positions on specific aspects of a settlement that will make it all the more difficult to explore practical ways to make progress in the negotiations themselves.

I would welcome your views on these matters.5 I shall be back in Washington Friday, but am meanwhile at your disposal through Am[Page 944]bassador Eilts at any time while I am in Peking and Tokyo on the way home.6

Warm personal regards,

Henry A. Kissinger

End text.

3. In delivering foregoing, you should tell Fahmi orally that this week’s Newsweek story purporting to give account of aspects of my conversations with Sadat re disengagement question and our discussions re U.S. domestic attitudes is distinctly unhelpful. We must all take greater precautions to avoid feeding speculation about what is said in our private diplomacy. Otherwise, U.S. ability to play kind of role we envisage will inevitably be circumscribed.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1178, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—1973 Peace Negotiations, Nov. 11, 1973 through Nov. 15, 1973 [2 of 2]. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Repeated Immediate to USNATO for Sisco and to the Department of State.
  2. Telegram 3484 from Cairo, November 12, reported that the cease-fire agreement was signed on Sunday, November 11, under UN auspices. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  3. Telegram 3487 from Cairo, November 13, transmitted a message from Fahmi to Kissinger complaining that following the signing of the six-point agreement, “the Israelis resorted to their usual obstructions.” They had prevented the UNEF from replacing its forces at the checkpoints on the Cairo–Suez road despite several attempts by the UNEF commander to carry out his mandate. Fahmi pointed out that under point 5 of the agreement, the UNEF was to man the checkpoints and be responsible for inspecting and verifying the non-military nature of all supplies sent to the town of Suez. Fahmi wondered how, if the situation continued, the two sides could discuss anything substantive in the proposed peace conference. He said that he hoped the Secretary would ensure that Israel started to cooperate in good faith on these points. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 136, Country Files, Middle East, Dinitz, November 1–30, 1973)
  4. See Document 324.
  5. In telegram 3508 from Cairo, November 13, Eilts reported that he had delivered the Secretary’s message to Fahmi, who had commented that he shared the view expressed in the first four paragraphs. He noted, however, that if the Israelis continued to raise obstacles, he was skeptical that meaningful peace talks could take place. Fahmi then launched into a tirade against Israeli actions of the previous day, contending again that they were in violation of point 5. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1178, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—1973 Peace Negotiations, Nov. 11, 1973 through Nov. 15, 1973 [2 of 2]) A November 12 Intelligence Information Cable on the status of implementation of the six-point accord noted that the Israelis had taken the position that UN personnel could be stationed at the checkpoints on the Cairo–Suez road, but side by side with Israeli troops and not in replacement. (Ibid.)
  6. In Secto 167/14878 from Tokyo, November 14, Kissinger asked that a message be passed to Fahmi in which Kissinger expressed his regrets, but not surprise, at the “initial difficulties” in implementing the six point agreement,” but noted improvement. Kissinger informed Fahmi he had emphasized to Meir that it was important for the Israeli military representative to be “positive.” Finally, Kissinger hoped that Egypt would not allow public speculation about deadlines for a settlement. (Ibid., [1 of 2]) Kissinger returned to Washington on November 16.