102. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald Ford
  • Ismail Fahmi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Fahmi: We need some concrete progress on the Sinai front. This is a must. If Kissinger can do it in not more than two months, that is good. It is necessary. We are working with the extremists, to change the image of the United States. It can be done, but it is tricky and could go either way now.

Kissinger: Can you make a Sinai move alone?

Fahmi: Sure. Not to a peace. We must proceed slowly. We must get some equipment from the Soviet Union, but I can make it sweeping or just enough to get by.

Kissinger: You must do what you want, but a sweeping deal would cause an outcry that you are a Soviet stooge. The next move will be tough, because in the Sinai the next move will interrupt a decade of infrastructure. I told the President when he came in that there would be an attack on me and an attempt to split me and the President.

But we can’t move before November 5. You didn’t notice, but the President got additional aid to Israel taken out of the Continuing Resolution—for the first time ever.

The next step in the Sinai is much more important than the first, because now there is no logical stopping place.

Fahmi: No one can accuse us of being a Soviet satellite. We get nothing from the Soviet Union now and we need something. But if we get nothing from the Soviet Union and nothing from you, and are asked to make more concessions, my army will think I am foolish. We have to get some equipment, but the issue is whether it will be a lot or a little. If we can get something from you early next year, we can get by with only a little [from the Soviet Union].

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The oil people are the biggest political amateurs—nice to us internally but with loudspeakers outside.

Kissinger: The reason I arranged this appointment is because I agree with Fahmi’s appraisal. I think Sadat is very exposed. Last November he made a big gamble. There is no doubt he is anti-Soviet. But the radicals are using his moves against him, and if he gets no progress for his efforts and no help from us, he is in trouble.

Fahmi: What he needs is movement in the Middle East more than arms. We are diversifying our arms supply now—your allies are selling to us.

President: We must push Israel into the arena to participate.

Kissinger: What Israel is asking for is an end of belligerency. We have to find a formulation—you can’t give that—something which looks like progress toward peace without giving up your principles.

Fahmi: Sadat can give nothing more than military disengagement. It has to be described that way. Non-belligerency is out of the question. We could not sign anything like that. Politically he couldn’t survive. He can sign a military agreement and some other things. But for him to make another big move in Sinai without a move on the Syrian and Jordanian fronts would be a big political move: It would get us out of the conflict, and what more could they want?

Kissinger: I had a brutal meeting with Allon yesterday2 because he said he would discuss only non-belligerency.

Fahmi: Khaddam came to Cairo only to block any separate move by Cairo. We agreed there would be no separate political move. So it must look like a military one.

Kissinger: So Israel will try to force the next move to be a political one. Israel likes to make offers which look reasonable and which the Arabs can’t make.

The radicals want to make Egypt look like it is betraying the Arabs; Israel wants Egypt to look like it is resisting progress to peace.

The Soviet Union is pushing for a total solution in order to freeze the situation and make progress impossible. If there is no progress in the next six months we are in bad trouble.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 5, Nodis Memcons, November 1974, Folder 1. Secret; Nodis. The breakfast meeting was held in the First Floor Private Dining Room at the White House. Brackets are in the original.
  2. No memorandum of conversation has been found. According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, no meeting took place between Allon and Kissinger on October 3 or October 4. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)