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

252353. Subj: Message From Secretary to Sadat re Syrian Intentions. For Chargé From Secretary.

1. Please arrange to have following message from me to Sadat delivered to him as expeditiously as possible.

2. Begin text: Dear Mr. President: I am writing to share with you my puzzlement and concern about reports reaching me of possible imminent Syrian military action.2 I do not pretend to know what Syrian intentions may be and do not want to appear alarmist. It is entirely possible that these reports are in error. At the same time, because of the risk that any breakdown of the ceasefire would pose to the constructive work we have already accomplished together and to our hopes and plans for greater progress in the future, I thought I should be in touch with you and seek any views about the situation which you may care to share with me.

3. It would of course be a major tragedy if the military situation were to deteriorate and the negotiating process so recently launched in Geneva were to be set back, just when we are on the threshhold of the first real and tangible progress toward a just settlement in over six years.3

4. I want to reaffirm to you my commitment to the program for disengagement which we have discussed and my commitment to work for a serious disengagement arrangement between Syria and Israel as well. This can only be done in the context of progress at Geneva and would be placed in serious jeopardy if there were a resumption of hostilities. Certainly renewed fighting would undermine the ability of the [Page 1208]United States to play the role we have set out for ourselves in the peacemaking process. If you think it would useful, you may convey my foregoing commitment to President Asad.

Sincerely,

Henry A. Kissinger.

End text.

Kissinger
  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. Secret; Niact; Immediate; Nodis; Cherokee. Drafted by Atherton and approved by Kissinger.
  2. A December 29 Intelligence Information Cable reported that during recent discussions with Sadat in Cairo, Saudi officials were told that the Syrians were pressing the Egyptians “every day” to resume hostilities. Sadat had begged the Syrians not to start anything until the United States had been given the chance to prove that it could bring about disengagement. (Ibid., Box 1180, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—1973 Peace Negotiations, Dec. 23–31, 1973)
  3. In telegram 4249 from Cairo, December 30, Chargé d’Affaires Smith reported that since the Foreign Minister was still in Aswan, he delivered the Secretary’s message to Egyptian Undersecretary Loutfi, who had commented: “What can the Syrians do alone?” Loutfi then promised to transmit the message immediately to Sadat. (Ibid., Box 639, Country Files, Middle East, Arab Republic of Egypt, Vol. X, Nov.–Dec. 31, 1973)