103. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1

Secretary Kissinger asked that you be provided with the following report of his first meeting with President Sadat:

“Shortly after I arrived in Cairo Tuesday night, I held an 80-minute initial meeting with President Sadat2 to lay the groundwork for a longer and more detailed discussion with him today. I found Sadat sober in mood, preoccupied with the present delicate position in which Egypt finds itself in the Arab world, and anxious to hear precisely how progress can be made towards a second-stage disengagement on the Egyptian/Israeli front. Having taken the lead over the past year in negotiations under U.S. auspices with the Israelis, and anxious that he be able to demonstrate that the resumption of diplomatic relations with the U.S. benefits his people and the Arab world generally, Sadat feels he must show more progress towards a negotiated settlement in order to defend himself against those who are against the closer Egyptian/American connection. (He believes that he has at most three months to retain control of events.) You will recall that Fahmy underscored this basic concern and orientation in his recent meeting with you.3

“At the same time, we must not be under any illusions, since if he cannot find a way to build on the trends and momentum developed in the past, he will come under increasing pressure to re-establish some of the closer ties with the USSR, a development which I do not believe he desires but he would, in my judgment, move to if he concluded that it was the only course he had available to promote the national interests of Egypt. He is eager to meet with you and lays great stress on the U.S. connection. We discussed the possibility of such a meeting in late January sometime after your State of the Union speech, and he thought that would be a good time.

“My strategy last night was to avoid getting into specific details but rather to paint the picture in the area with all its complexities. I indicated that I would be going to Israel to seek specific proposals from Rabin which I can take back to Sadat on Monday.4 I said he should not [Page 428] expect any such initial Israeli proposal to be very far-reaching, but I hoped it could provide the basis for a beginning of a negotiating process under our auspices between Egypt and Israel. I added it would also be necessary for there to be Egyptian political quid pro quos if Israel could be expected to withdraw to a new line in the Sinai. While I am sure that it contributed to his sobriety, I told him candidly that he could not expect a successful conclusion of such negotiations before the end of next January. If I can get something in Israel to start the process, Sadat can use it to moderate action at the upcoming Arab summit meeting at the end of the month. I asked for his cooperation at this meeting to help assure that the Arabs will not peg out an unrealistic overall posture—particularly on the Palestinian issue—which could sidetrack meaningful negotiations.

“I also described to him briefly the kind of pressures that we are under at home from certain quarters on this whole issue, and I sought to reassure him that under your leadership we intend to make a further determined effort on a step-by-step basis towards an ultimate overall settlement.

“I will report to you again after my next conversation with Sadat tonight which is likely to be extended.

“I saw Fahmy for two hours this morning5 to go over essentially the same ground as well as our attitude on the PLO vote in New York.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books of Henry Kissinger, Box 1, October 8–13, 1974, Middle East, HAK Messages for President, October 10, 1974. Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. No memorandum of conversation has been found. Kissinger arrived in Cairo on Tuesday, October 8.
  3. See Document 102.
  4. October 14.
  5. No memorandum of conversation has been found, but Kissinger sent a memorandum to Scowcroft for President Ford summarizing the meeting on October 10. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books of Henry Kissinger, Box 1, October 8–13, 1974, Middle East, HAK Messages for President, October 10, 1974)