422. Letter From President Nixon to Egyptian President Sadat1

Dear Mr. President:

Secretary Kissinger has given me a full report of his trip to the Middle East, the opening phase of the Geneva Conference, and, in particular, his most recent discussions with you. From this report, I remain convinced that there is opportunity for real progress towards a settlement and for a dramatic improvement in our relations.

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I am pleased that as a result of the discussions you and Secretary Kissinger have had and the exchange of messages between us we can point to a number of significant accomplishments. Relationships between our two countries have been put on a new basis of cordiality and understanding. We have promised what we have felt could realistically be achieved. The ceasefire, the six-point agreement, the opening of the Peace Conference, important as they are, are only beginnings. We are committed, as you know, to full support and implementation of the November 1967 Security Council Resolution. We have also developed together basic principles of a disengagement agreement, subject, of course, to a number of details still to be worked out and negotiated. Israel has sent its military representatives to Geneva where they are meeting with your military representatives looking towards an early agreement on the disengagement of forces. We have also arranged for Defense Minister Dayan to come next week to the United States so that we can pursue the full details with him of a possible disengagement agreement incorporating the principles of your discussions with Secretary Kissinger. All of these are solid achievements to which both Egypt and the United States have made an important contribution.

I am deeply convinced, Mr. President, that our two Nations stand at the threshhold of a great turning point in history. We can, if we have the will, bring a new era of peace and prosperity to all the peoples of the Arab world. But should we fail, we will condemn not only your countrymen but the entire area to a long and bitter continuation of the conflict which has for too long plagued the Middle East. For my part, I pledge myself to do everything in my power to ensure that my second term as President will be remembered as the period in which the United States developed a new and productive relationship with Egypt and the Arab world.

I am also convinced, however, that only if the United States continues to play a major and decisive role in the negotiations now underway in Geneva can we hope for any lasting success. But in order to make it possible for me to move decisively it is necessary that the discrimination against the United States, which the oil embargo represents, be brought to an end. Thus, Mr. President, I have noted with dismay the December 25 decision of the Arab oil ministers in Kuwait to increase Arab oil production by ten percent to help meet the needs of Japan and various European countries while continuing the embargo against the United States.2 This action has put me in a most difficult position since it constitutes a continuation of a policy of discrimination [Page 1206]against the United States. You know from our past exchanges that we believe it is essential that the United States be in a position to engage itself in a positive manner free of outside pressures. The activities of the last several months demonstrate clearly and without equivocation the role the United States has played and would intend to play in order to help bring about a just and durable peace agreement in the area. You know the great stress I place on close relations with the Arab world. However, the clearly discriminatory action of the oil producers can totally vitiate the effective contribution the United States is determined to make in the days ahead. Therefore, Mr. President, I must tell you in complete candor that it is essential that the oil embargo and oil production restrictions against the United States be ended at once. It cannot await the outcome of the current talks on disengagement.

I have felt free, Mr. President, to speak as directly and as frankly as I have in this letter to you because I know from all of your recent conversations and exchanges of messages with us that you are a man who both appreciates and understands clarity and directness. I am writing today to His Majesty King Faisal in the same vein.3 With the opening of the talks on disengagement, we have now reached the stage where the United States influence could prove decisive.

I am aware that you and His Majesty King Faisal have kept in close touch regarding the embargo. I believe it would be in the interest of everyone concerned and in the interest of progress in the upcoming talks for this matter to be resolved promptly. I am confident, Mr. President, that you will wish to give these views your urgent considerations.4


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt, Vol. VIII, November 1–December 31, 1973. No classification marking. The President’s letter to Sadat was transmitted in telegram 251343 to Cairo, December 28. (Ibid.)
  2. The OAPEC Oil Ministers met in Kuwait December 24–25. The communiqué cited the injustice done to the Arab world bcause of the occupation of Arab territory and the expulsion of the Palestinian people.
  3. Attached, but not printed. The President’s letter to King Faisal was transmitted in telegram 251342 to Jidda, December 28. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia [2 of 3]) Printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969–1974, Document 274.
  4. Telegram 251946 to Jidda, December 28, transmitted a message from Kissinger to Saudi Foreign Minister Saqqaf expressing his strong disappointment and dismay regarding the OAPEC decisions announced on December 25. He pointed out that the discriminatory nature of those decisions, which singled out the United States for a continuing embargo when it was the only country seriously working toward the just settlement in the Middle East that Arab nations wanted, put President Nixon in an impossible position. The Secretary warned that, under these circumstances, he would be unable to continue on the course he had set for himself, and that it was absolutely essential that the oil embargo and oil production restrictions directed against the United States be ended immediately. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, [2 of 3]) Printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969–1974, Document 273.