47. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Egyptian Presidential Adviser for National Security Affairs (Ismail)1

[1 line not declassified]

1. Dr. Kissinger appreciates Mr. Ismail’s thoughtful message of April 7.2

2. Dr. Kissinger agrees that U.S.–Egyptian relations require patience, moderation and wisdom on both sides. For its part, the U.S. will make a sincere and serious effort to put this relationship on a new basis.

3. With respect to Mr. Ismail’s assumptions, the U.S. position is as follows:

a. The White House has engaged itself in a serious effort to determine whether it can play a useful role. It will not mislead Egypt; but promise only what it believes it can deliver. On the other hand, it will make a major effort to live up to what it promises.

b. The United States is not certain about Israel’s reaction since it has sought to avoid theoretical discussions. Dr. Kissinger’s understanding was that the next meeting would involve a discussion of what Mr. Ismail called heads of agreement3 which could serve as a link to the opening of the Suez Canal as well as the overall agreement. These would, of course, be based on Security Council Resolution 242.

4. Within this context, the U.S. affirms its serious interest in movement toward a peace agreement and is prepared to discuss possible heads of agreement. To provide for a fruitful discussion, the U.S. side assumes that the Egyptian side will be prepared to put forward its pre[Page 141]cise ideas on the issues raised at the last meeting. As discussed then, it might be useful if some of those could be sent in advance.

5. Dr. Kissinger would welcome another meeting. He would prefer to meet in the U.S. and would find it difficult to make a special trip to Europe at this time. However, he is planning to be in Europe for other business about May 8 and could arrange to meet around May 9. If Mr. Ismail agrees, Dr. Kissinger will [less than 1 line not declassified] work out modalities.

6. There is one final important point that must be mentioned regarding the security of these talks. A report reached us late last week from Mr. Greene, the head of our Interests Section in Cairo, of a conversation between him and Mr. Kamal Adham.4 Mr. Greene reported at some length Mr. Adham’s comments on our discussions here which he allegedly received from high Egyptian sources. For one thing, Mr. Adham reported some points which were simply not true. For instance, he said it was agreed that there was no need for Mr. Ismail to tell the Soviets about the conversation since Dr. Kissinger would do that. This, as Mr. Ismail knows, is inaccurate since it was agreed that both sides would mention the meeting to the USSR. He also reported to Greene Dr. Kissinger’s having said that Mr. Ismail could disregard what he might hear in the State Department. This, too, is not true. It was Dr. Kissinger’s understanding that the so-called interim arrangement would continue to be pursued in State Department channels.

7. Adham also reported that the Egyptian side was offended by an alleged phrase of Dr. Kissinger’s; to the effect that Israel was now on the Canal and there was nothing Egypt could do about it. The U.S. record shows no such remark by Dr. Kissinger. Throughout, Dr. Kissinger attempted to explain the realities which were needed to frame a settlement. Apart from these and other inaccuracies, a serious question about the security of these conversations is raised. Dr. Kissinger must know in what channels the conversations might appear. Obviously, his own conduct will be affected by it. If tight security cannot be maintained, Dr. Kissinger will have to reconsider his own participation. Dr. Kissinger would appreciate categoric assurances on these points. Obviously, he can have no interest in discussions whose primary purpose is to establish a villain.

8. Dr. Kissinger looks forward to another meeting with Mr. Ismail.”5

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Oral Addition to the Message:

“The U.S. side recognizes the Egyptian concerns about past experiences. It would not, however, pursue these channels if it wished to repeat the patterns of the past.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 131, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. IV, February 24–May 19, 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.
  2. Not found.
  3. See Document 28.
  4. Reported in telegram 1024 from Cairo, April 6. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  5. Ismail agreed to meet Kissinger on May 9. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 131, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. IV, February 24–May 19, 1973)