[Page 948]

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

Secto 197. Ref: State 226402.2 Subject: Message From P.M. Meir re Bab-al-Mandab. For Amb Eilts from Secretary.

1. You should pass following message to Foreign Minister Fahmy:

2. Begin text:

Dear Mr. Foreign Minister:

When we last met, we agreed on the need to create the best possible atmosphere for the forthcoming negotiations.3 You have proceeded fully in this spirit during the days since then. It is in the same spirit that I want to let you know I have learned that some shipping to and from Israel through the Bab al-Mandab straits will be resumed this Sunday November 18.

I know you told me on my last evening in Cairo that orders to relax the blockade had been issued but I thought you would want to have this information in order to make doubly certain that any possible difficulties can be avoided.4

Warm personal regards.

Henry A. Kissinger

3. For Dept: Inform Shalev that Egyptians have been advised shipping to and from Israel through Bab al-Mandab will be resumed Sunday November 18. In doing so, you should remind Israelis that it is important they avoid focussing public attention on this matter in Israel [Page 949]and in particular that there be no public references to Egypt’s “lifting the blockade”.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 136, Country Files, Middle East, November 1–November 30, 1973. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Cherokee. Repeated to the Department of State, Tel Aviv, and Immediate to London for Sisco.
  2. Telegram 226402 to London, November 16, informed Sisco that Shalev had asked the Department to inform him that, in accordance with Sisco’s conversations with the Prime Minister on November 7 and 8, the Government of Israel would renew traffic through the Bab-el-Mandeb straits as of Sunday, November 18. (Ibid.) See Documents 326 and 327.
  3. See Document 330.
  4. In telegram 3557 from Cairo, November 17, Eilts stated that Egypt had been informed and word had been sent to Egyptian naval commanders to allow unhindered passage of the first two ships. Fahmi insisted, however, that the government had agreed to ease rather than lift the blockade. Therefore, it wanted the details of all ships to and from Israel that were expected to pass through the straits. Fahmi also expressed his hope that Israel would avoid any publicity, which could embarrass Egypt at this critical juncture. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 639, Country Files, Middle East, Arab Republic of Egypt, [Nov. 73–Dec. 31, 1973])
  5. In telegram 227670 to Tel Aviv, November 18, Kissinger informed Keating that he had passed on the information in telegram 3557 to Dinitz, who had since informed him that Israel would do everything in its power to prevent publicity but could not control what appeared in the foreign press. The Secretary added that he had suggested to Dinitz that the Israelis notify the United States of the sailings of ships to and from Eilat so that it could pass the information to the Egyptians. (Ibid., Box 611, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. 13, November–December 1973) Kissinger discussed it with Dinitz on the telephone on November 17 at 11:12 a.m. (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23)