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

Secretary Kissinger has asked that I pass to you the following report of his second meeting with President Sadat:

[Page 429]

“I had a detailed and very satisfactory three-hour talk with Sadat,2 and I can report that we achieved more than I expected for this round. Sadat has agreed to engage in direct political negotiations with Israel, with a U.N. representative present, looking towards a second-stage agreement on the Egyptian-Israeli front. This is the first time any Arab leader has agreed to bilateral direct talks. The talks would be held in the U.N. zone in the Sinai between the Israeli and Egyptian lines. Of equal significance, he has also agreed that these talks will have a political character as the Israelis insist, rather than a purely military one. In order to de-emphasize cosmetically his willingness to engage in direct negotiations of a political character, he will send a top military man to head his delegation, but he will be flanked by a high-ranking political adviser so that Egypt can discuss both political and military questions.

“At the same time, he stressed that while he cannot agree to a formal declaration of non-belligerency as the Israelis insist, he is prepared to consider and agree to specific elements of non-belligerency in return for a further substantial second stage withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Sinai. He still has in mind a line of withdrawal which Israel will resist very strongly, and I therefore avoided pressing the specifics of this at this stage since it is better strategy for the differences over the line to be raised in the first instance between the Egyptians and Israelis themselves when the talks begin. I mentioned to him several specifics Israel wants, such as cargoes through the Canal, no Red Sea blockage, and he agreed.

“While he would strongly prefer a disengagement agreement before the end of the year, he has accepted the target of late January for conclusion of the agreement.

“He apparently seems ready to go ahead on such an agreement if he can get the kind of withdrawal he wants, whatever the objections of other Arabs; and he seems prepared to deal with Arab charges that he is headed for a separate agreement with Israel contrary to the general Arab view that there needs to be an overall settlement involving all three fronts—Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

“The major immediate problem he faces is the upcoming Arab summit meeting beginning on October 24. He apparently does not intend to tell his Arab colleagues of the above understanding that has been achieved between us, since he does not want it known at this point that he is ready to move ahead in political-military talks with the Israelis. Therefore, he wants no announcement of the above during my current trip, and we agreed that we would be very general with the [Page 430] press, avoiding specifics; otherwise, he would have to give specific details of our understanding to his Arab brothers at the summit, thereby opening himself to attacks. Also, I will not tell the details to the Israelis who will certainly leak them. This means that we may have some characterization of my mission in our press as either unproductive or a failure, but it is essential that we play the press in this way in order to help Sadat meet the difficult tactical problem at the Arab summit. We agreed that I should return to the area about November 3 or 4 in connection with the India trip. The announcement of the beginning of negotiations will be made then. This will require some adjustment of my schedule, probably dropping my planned stops to Romania and Yugoslavia.

“All of the above is very sensitive, and I am not reporting this in any other channel. It is imperative therefore that the above understandings between Sadat and myself not be revealed in any way or hinted at or Sadat will be in an impossible position. I will have to be most circumspect in what I tell the Israelis and other Arab leaders.

“Finally, I discussed the Palestinian issue at great length and explained our strong view that it has been a mistake for the Arabs to press this matter at the U.N. so prematurely.3 Sadat understood that if we did anything but vote against hearing the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people, it would make our position completely untenable in Israel. He agreed to help explain our position in as positive light as possible at the Arab summit though it would cause us difficulties. I believe he has taken a farsighted view on this point. He is more interested in our influencing the Israelis to move constructively towards negotiations rather than a tactical victory at the U.N.

“I leave for Damascus in the morning where my main purpose will be to convince the Syrians that we are determined to continue our efforts, and that progress is possible on one of the other fronts within the kind of January timetable we have in mind. The most difficult pill for Assad to swallow will be my reiteration that no concrete progress is possible in the foreseeable future on the Syrian front. I will, however, give him your commitment to another stage on the Golan.”

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 25, CATC NATURAL 1974, Arab-Israeli War. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. The memorandum of conversation of the meeting between Sadat and Kissinger, which took place on October 10 from 9:02 until 11:50 p.m. at the President’s Giza Residence in Cairo, is ibid., Box 5, Nodis Memcons, November 1974, Folder 1.
  3. On September 11, all 20 Arab states represented at the United Nations and 23 non-Arab states formally requested that the UN General Assembly consider Palestine as a separate item on its agenda. During the previous three decades, the General Assembly had discussed Palestine as part of an overall Arab-Israeli settlement, but never as a separate item. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1974, pp. 218–219) General Assembly Resolution 3210, adopted on October 14, invited the PLO, as the representative of the Palestinian people, to participate in General Assembly deliberations on the Palestinian issue. The United States voted against the resolution. For text of the resolution, see ibid., p. 226.