[Page 958]

347. Telegram From the Department of State to the U.S. Interests Section in Cairo1

227671. Subj: Middle East Negotiations: Message from Secretary to Fahmy. Ref: Cairo 3550.2 Please deliver following message to Foreign Minister Fahmy from the Secretary:

Begin text:

Dear Mr. Foreign Minister:

Your letter of November 16 conveyed through Ambassador Eilts was awaiting me upon my return. I very much value the personal relationship we have established and the opportunity to stay in close touch with you through our private correspondence. It gives us the means to anticipate and deal with potential problems in a sensible way as we work to solidify the improving relations between our two countries. I have told you how impressed I was with President Sadat and with the statesmanlike manner in which he is dealing with the problem of peace in the Middle East. I believe the relationship between us is one of the reliable guarantees that we can faithfully serve our respective Presidents in this endeavor.

I have studied carefully the views set forth in your letter. I do not believe that the approach you suggest is the most effective for reaching our common objectives. As I believe we agreed in Cairo, the disengagement of forces is the first question that should be taken up at the peace conference. This is reflected in the second paragraph of the paper we worked out the morning I left Cairo.3 One of the reasons, in fact, for having only Egypt, Syria and Jordan represented in the first stage of the conference was because they are the Arab countries whose forces would at some point be involved in any disengagement process.

It is, of course, not precluded that the disengagement question could also be discussed earlier between the military representatives, and I would welcome any progress they might make. But the U.S. Government will be better able to be helpful on the disengagement question in the framework of the conference rather than in the more limited [Page 959]context of talks between military representatives at Kilometer 101, where we are not direct participants. Frankly, I am concerned that pressing the disengagement question prematurely or seeking some agreement on it as a prerequisite to the conference could result in little progress in achieving disengagement and fail to bring about a conference.

I continue to believe that the primary need now is to focus on organizing the conference. As I have assured you, we will be able to use our influence constructively in that framework. I was, therefore, glad to hear from Ambassador Eilts that you expect to be in a position to send me your views on how we should proceed in the next day or so. To get things started, either the U.S. and the Soviet Union can inform the Secretary General of the agreement reached with respect to a conference and arrange for a Security Council consensus, along the lines we discussed in Cairo, or alternatively, the parties themselves can do this.

I look forward to hearing your personal views.4

Warm personal regards, Henry A. Kissinger.

End text.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 639, Country Files, Middle East, Arab Republic of Egypt, Vol. X, Nov. 73–Dec. 31, 1973. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Cherokee. Drafted by Atherton, cleared by Eagleburger, approved by Kissinger.
  2. Telegram 3550 from Cairo, November 17, conveyed Fahmi’s letter to Kissinger in which Fahmi urged the U.S. Government to press Israel to ensure that progress was made in the current disengagement talks before the peace conference convened. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 330.
  4. In telegram 229447 to Cairo, November 21, Kissinger asked Eilts, when delivering this message to Fahmi, to convey an additional message concerning the opening date of the conference. Kissinger noted that he shared Fahmi’s sense of urgency about starting the conference, but was required to be in Brussels December 10–11 for a NATO meeting. He suggested the dates of December 17 or 18, adding that a later date would also give him an opportunity following the NATO meeting to make another trip to Cairo and other capitals in the area to review the situation prior to the opening of the conference. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 639, Country Files, Middle East, Arab Republic of Egypt, Vol. X, Nov.–Dec. 1973)