48. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Memorandum Recording Your Conversation with Ismail

At Tab A2 as you requested is a record of your conversations with Mr. Ismail which you could show to Joe Sisco. It is written as the kind of memcon I might have done had I been doing a record of the conversation other than a verbatim one.3 This provides a convincingly full record without having to cover all of the details.

You should be aware that I have omitted the following subjects or abbreviated reference to them as indicated below:

—All references to procedures used in establishing and following through on direct communication between you and Mr. Ismail have been omitted. This also omits any reference to the relationship between your channel and Egypt’s normal contact with the State Department. [FYI, the transcript did not show at any point your saying that the Egyptians should disregard the State Department.]

—Discussion of exactly what role the US should play between Egypt and Israel through this special channel has been omitted. This means omission of any discussion of the specific procedures of trying to reach agreement on heads of agreement and on when Israel should be brought into that process. I have, however, included one paragraph in [Page 143]which Ismail described in very general terms a three-part process beginning with agreement on general principles, filling in provisions and then moving on to implementation. This is cast, however, as a very general statement of his view on what needs to be done, so it does not get into the idea of working out those heads of agreement in this separate channel. It is desirable to have some general statement as a framework within which to record your agreement that negotiation of an interim settlement with State Department help could be useful as an opening phase in this process.

—I have included one very brief mention of agreement that Ismail would tell the Soviets about his talk in Washington so as to cover that point. I have, however, omitted more detailed description of exactly what you and he might say to your respective Soviet contacts about your particular conversation.

—The discussion of what went wrong in 1971 is omitted.

—The fairly detailed discussion of demilitarization and possible long term transitional security arrangements in the Sinai is much abbreviated. However, I have left in one sentence in the form of a question by you which raises the possibility of such arrangements. This is done in the context of the concept of reconciling Egyptian sovereignty with the requirements of Israeli security—a concept which was in the initial State Department talking points for the President.

In this connection, you should be aware of the State Department memorandum at Tab B4 saying that Secretary Rogers has asked him to request that he be provided with copies of the memoranda concerning the President’s and your conversation with Hafiz Ismail. Not knowing whether you plan to use the memorandum at Tab A directly with Sisco or whether that is by arrangement with the Secretary, I simply request your guidance on the handling of this State Department request.5

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 32, Geopolitical File, Middle East, Chronological File, 27 Feb–14 May 73. Top Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten note on the first page reads: “Shown to Sisco May 14, 1973.” Brackets are in the original.
  2. Attached, but not printed.
  3. See Document 28 for the record of Kissinger’s February 25–26 conversations with Ismail sent to the President.
  4. Attached, but not printed.
  5. In his memoirs, Kissinger described the events leading up to his decision to have Saunders prepare this memorandum for Sisco. He recorded that Greene, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Cairo, first learned of the secret talks with Ismail from the Arabic version of Sadat’s March 29 interview with Newsweek editor Arnaud de Borchgrave, information which was then confirmed in Cairo. Greene then sent the Saudi version of these talks, which a Saudi official had supplied, to Washington in a “regular State telegram.” Kissinger noted that “there was no way now to negotiate over the Middle East without involving the interested departments,” and that he briefed Sisco on his exchanges with Ismail on April 9. (Years of Upheaval, pp. 224–225)