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349. Backchannel Message From Secretary of State Kissinger to the Egyptian Presidential Adviser for National Security Affairs (Ismail)1

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the October 1973 War.]

[2 lines not declassified] We, too, place great stress on maintaining this Presidential channel. My experience has shown that communications at this level often permit the exploration of ideas that are more difficult to discuss in formal government-to-government channels.

On this occasion, I especially want to use this channel to tell you how very much impressed I was with President Sadat’s perception of the longer term issues with which all of us must deal in the present situation. I am convinced that there will be no peace in the Middle East unless the principal leaders there take a long view and are prepared to persevere in their pursuit of fundamental objectives regardless of shorter term turns in the course of events. Your President has clearly demonstrated this capacity, and a great deal now rests on his continued statesmanship.

I assume you will have seen my recent exchange of messages with Foreign Minister Fahmi.2 I have considered the suggestion that the opening of the peace conference be conditioned on success in the near future in talks on disengagement. My own view is that this would be a mistake and that, as I said to President Sadat, disengagement should be the first substantive subject dealt with at the peace conference. At that time, it would be possible to discuss some of the schemes that President Sadat mentioned in his conversation with me.3 I believe that some of those ideas are adaptable to Syrian conditions as well. In my view, the peace conference is the place where US influence can be most effectively used.

I would also like to add my further thought that it would be a mistake to advance in other forums at this time some of the specific thoughts on disengagement that President Sadat made to me. I fear it will limit US flexibility if these ideas are placed too soon in the public spotlight where they can be attacked before there is an opportunity to introduce them at the right moment in the negotiations. Perhaps you could recall to President Sadat my suggestion along these lines.

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It looks to us now as if the best date for the opening of the peace conference, from our viewpoint, is about December 17. I also want you to know that I am exploring the possibility of a visit to Damascus December 13 or 14 after my attendance at the NATO meeting. If this can be arranged, I would appreciate the opportunity to make another stop in Cairo in order to renew my acquaintances and to talk again with President Sadat on the eve of the opening of the peace conference.

Again, I am pleased to continue my communications with you. Please pass to President Sadat my best wishes and my appreciation and admiration for the way he has conducted our relationship.

With warm personal regards,

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. VII, October 1–31, 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A handwritten notation on the memorandum indicates that it was sent for delivery at 3:37 p.m. on November 20.
  2. See Document 347 and footnotes 2 and 4 thereto.
  3. See Document 324.