353. Backchannel Message From President Nixon to Moroccan King Hassan1

The President appreciates His Majesty King Hassan II’s recent communication concerning the Palestinians.2 He understands that it is [Page 972]motivated by a genuine desire to contribute to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and to prevent the Soviet Union from appearing as the sole advocate of the Palestinians.

In the present delicate diplomatic situation, however, the President feels that it would not be helpful to reveal the fact that contacts have taken place between a representative of the United States Government and of the Palestinians. Therefore, the President hopes that His Majesty will understand the need to preserve complete confidentiality on this subject.

The President wishes to assure His Majesty that the United States is fully aware of the great importance of addressing the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people in peace negotiations. At this point, however, the urgent need is to begin a process which can lead to peace, and this will require patience and discipline on all sides. The United States has reached a general understanding with the parties to the Middle East conflict that the peace conference, which hopefully will convene next month, should deal in the first instance with the disengagement of military forces.

In closing, the President would like to express his thanks to His Majesty for the discreet manner in which he has helped to bring together Palestinian representatives with those of the United States. This may prove to be a most useful channel of communication in the future, which is all the more reason to preserve its confidential nature.3

The President wishes His Majesty to know how much he appreciated the cordial welcome accorded to Dr. Kissinger. The President also thanks His Majesty for his kind words of friendship and takes this opportunity to convey to His Majesty warmest personal greetings.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 138, Country Files, Middle East, Morocco, [March 1973–November 1974]. Secret; Sensitive. A note on the message indicates that it was received in the White House Situation Room at 12:35 p.m. on November 23. Sent to Rabat to the attention of General Walters.
  2. In a backchannel Eyes Only message to President Nixon, November 20, Hassan stated there could not be a solution in the Middle East as long as the United States did not reveal its attitude toward the Palestinian problem. Referring to the November 4 meeting (see Document 318), he was proud the two sides had chosen Morocco as an intermediary. The King argued that unless the other Arab and Muslim states knew that the United States and the PLO had been in contact, there would be growing animosity toward the United States. He felt that the most important and sensitive part of the U.S. intention to achieve peace in the Middle East—the Palestinian problem—should not remain hidden. He believed that it was time to make public the news of the contacts in Rabat. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 138, Country Files, Middle East, Morocco, [March 1973–November 1974])
  3. In telegram 3587 from Cairo, November 20, Eilts reported that Said Kemal, Political Affairs Director of the PLO’s Cairo office, had proposed that he meet with U.S. officials in Washington to discuss the Palestinian aspects of a Middle East settlement. Kemal said that he would be acting as Arafat’s personal representative and not simply as a representative of the PLO. (Ibid., Box 639, Country Files, Middle East, Arab Republic of Egypt, Vol. X, Nov. 73–Dec. 31, 1973)