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352. Backchannel Message From Secretary of State Kissinger to the Head of the U.S. Interests Section in Egypt (Eilts)1

In response to Fahmi’s concern about my direct channel with Hafez Ismail (your message of 11/22/73),2 you should make an appointment with him as quickly as possible to make the following oral points:

—[less than 1 line not declassified] meeting with Hafez Ismail was at Ismail’s request.

—The proposal for the maintenance of a private Presidential channel was also made by Ismail.

—I have total confidence in Fahmi and do not intend myself to initiate any correspondence through the channel to Ismail.

—I count on my friendship with Fahmi and on the confidence which I feel has developed between us to maintain the close and frank communication essential to see us successfully through the delicate days which lie ahead.

—I still believe that our original plan to have disengagement as the first phase of the peace conference is the most effective. He can count on strong American support to make progress.

—With respect to the Arab Summit my views are as follows:

—As we are both aware, many of the Arab governments that will be assembled in Algiers take a far less practical and constructive approach to the Arab–Israel problem than your own government. The possibility, therefore, strikes me as real that the conference might adopt negative or restricting positions that could damage the atmosphere for negotiations, attempt to prejudge such issues as Palestinian representation, or even merely provide the pretext for delaying the convening of a conference.

—It will be equally important to avoid any statements or actions that might have the effect of complicating an early lifting of the oil embargo and production cuts which will be a prerequisite if the United States is to play the role we both envisage at the conference. I hope you will agree that for these reasons it is important for Egypt to keep sufficient control of the proceedings in Algiers to forestall such damaging results. President Sadat has already demonstrated both far-sightedness and steadfastness in not allowing less responsible Arab states to deflect Egypt from its carefully chosen objectives.

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—You might show Fahmi the attached text of a proposed joint US–Soviet letter to the Secretary General3 if Egypt agrees to our procedure. Does Fahmi have any comments?

—With respect to my trip to the Middle East you might tell Fahmi that I am prepared to start it in Cairo or do anything else that would underline the paramount importance we attach to US–Egyptian relationships.4

[2 lines not declassified]

  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. A handwritten notation on the message indicates that it was sent for delivery at 3:37 p.m. on November 22. The original is marked “Draft.”
  2. See footnote 4, Document 351.
  3. Attached, but not printed.
  4. On November 23, Eilts sent Kissinger a backchannel response, stating that he had received the Secretary’s message a few minutes earlier, but that Fahmi had already left for Algiers and was not expected to return until after the Arab summit. He said that he would convey the still pertinent parts of the Secretary’s message to the Foreign Minister as soon as he returned. The Ambassador added that he had earlier impressed upon Fahmi the importance of not having the Arab Foreign Ministers adopt “unhelpful positions which could impair the negotiating process.” Fahmi had said he was aware of this and expressed confidence that Egypt could control the meetings. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. VII, October 1–31, 1973)