108. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford 1

The following is Secretary Kissinger’s report of his final conversation with President Sadat:2

“I have just finished my final talk with President Sadat which culminated with a brief announcement to the press that we have made progress towards the beginning of negotiations between Israel and Egypt and that I will return to the area in early November. The final decisions on the time, place and modalities of course, will have to be determined in early November and after President Sadat has met with other Arab leaders at the October 26 summit.3

“Obviously under some strain from the fasting during Ramadan which comes to an end in about 48 hours, and dry of mouth as the conversation extended into the second hour, President Sadat nevertheless remained quietly determined throughout the discussion with me to move towards negotiations with Israel and not be deflected by what he hears at the summit. I reported this morning to him the results of my discussions in Israel, including the kind of terms which the Israelis could be expected to open with at any negotiation involving a second stage withdrawal from the Sinai. As expected he rejected the notion of a formal declaration of non-belligerency once again, while leaving open finding ways to give the essential content of such a declaration. He will not accept the kind of 30–50 kilometer withdrawal the Israelis have in mind which would exclude among other things the oil fields in the southern part of Sinai, nor would he accept the notion of a five-year agreement pointing out that the present disengagement agreement is openended. He did not seem surprised at these far-reaching terms and what I find significant is that this did not seem to deter him from his intention to begin a negotiating progress some time after the summit.

“His philosophy seems to be rather simple and straight-forward: He says he will face trouble and problems at the summit but Egypt will face even more troubles and difficulties if there is no progress towards a settlement. He goes on to say if there is an impasse, there is likely to be war and Egypt is apt to end up with nothing. This is a sensible view.

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“I also briefed him on King Hussein’s dilemma and I came away with the impression that he intends to support King Hussein on the question of a Jordanian negotiation with Israel over the West Bank. I believe he was fortified somewhat by the positive results of my discussion with King Faisal 4 who also, hopefully, can be expected to support the kind of line the Egyptians will pursue at the summit. I promised him that once negotiations get started he can expect that we will do everything possible to achieve what we consider to be a reasonable result for him. Looking ahead to my meeting with President Asad in a few hours he advised me to lay it on the line; in other words, not shrink from explaining to him how we evaluate the relative difficulties of an Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian negotiations with Israel respectively—drawing the conclusion that at this juncture, the Egyptian and Jordanian fronts offer more opportunities for progress. He is not entirely comfortable over our no vote on the PLO resolution at the UN,5 expressing concern that it might give too much ammunition to America’s enemies, but he nevertheless reiterated his intention to explain our decision on this question in proper perspective to the other Arabs.

“Finally, in this brief observation, I have become convinced that one of the most positive outcomes of my trip this week will be to have encouraged each of the friendly Arab leaders to stay on the course of moderation and hopefully to reflect this view in the face of radical pressures at the upcoming summit. I believe too, we have helped dispel some of the gloom and doubt and nervousness we found in various Arab capitals. While I was aware of the pressures which the Arab governments felt themselves to be under, I did not fully appreciate the depth of the dilemma they are experiencing until these discussions. They are concerned about how they are to relate to one another; how to resolve the dilemma that if they bend towards the public outcry in support of the PLO instead of King Hussein the West Bank will remain with the Israelis indefinitely; they are asking themselves how to get the Israelis to adopt a reasonable posture—all of those concerns help explain the anxiety, nervousness and tenseness we have found—not because of any fear on their part of an immediate war, but rather the thrashing about that is characteristic in trying to determine how to make the tough decisions ahead. In short, had the mission not taken place, the situation in the area might well have taken a sharp and irreparable nosedive. In these circumstances, President Sadat’s decision and outlook is a courageous one.”

  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 14, 1974. Secret; Sensitive. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. No memorandum of conversation has been found.
  3. A reference to the Arab League Summit in Rabat; see Document 112.
  4. A draft memorandum of conversation of the meeting between King Faisal and Kissinger, which took place on October 13 in Riyadh, is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 208, Geopolitical File, Saudi Arabia, August 10–October 28, 1974, Folder 2.
  5. See footnote 3, Document 104.