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

Secretary Kissinger has asked that I pass you the following report of his meetings in Cairo:

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“I have just concluded my Cairo stop which consisted of one and a half hour discussion with Sadat last night and another one this morning as well as a meeting with Foreign Minister Fahmy.2 The principal result of the meeting is that Sadat continues to attach great importance to finding a way to continue the step-by-step approach which he would hope would lead to a further Israeli withdrawal in the Sinai placing the strategic passes in his own hands and returning the oil fields in the south to Egypt. These talks culminated in a prepared statement by Sadat which strongly endorsed our approach and continued confidence in the U.S., stated flatly Egypt’s strong desire for continued active American diplomacy, and insisting that the Rabat summit has not closed all doors.

“Despite the fact that he was suffering from a very heavy cold, Sadat insisted on this full exchange and he took the time to meet with the press so that the aforementioned positive message could be gotten through publicly. He intends the above statement to be a counter to the attack on our policy which he has noted in our press and particularly stories emanating from Israeli sources that Rabat was a major diplomatic surprise and defeat for the United States.

“While Sadat has once again reaffirmed in strong terms the step-by-step approach, he is particularly anxious that some negotiating process be in train by the time Brezhnev arrives in Cairo in mid-January. He wants it conducted through diplomatic channels until the outline of an outcome appears. At that point he is prepared to move to formal negotiations. He is not sure he can carry the whole process on his own because it will make him very vulnerable. He would like something to be going on with either the Syrians or the PLO in the same time frame of Egyptian-Israeli negotiations though it can be dragged out. I made clear to him that he should not expect that Israel will agree to negotiations with the Syrians or the PLO at this juncture.

“A good part of the talk was spent by Sadat and Fahmy filling us in on the details of the discussions of the Rabat summit. The Egyptian version is that all was going reasonably well until Jordanian Prime Minister Rifai and King Hussein told the other Arabs that we had pressed Jordan to make a disengagement agreement with Israel that would constitute a final peace. I made clear that at no time did we ever do this, and that there is no satisfactory explanation for the statements being attributed to Rifai and Hussein by the Egyptians. I will be interested in [Page 455] Hussein’s version of these events when I see him in the next twenty-four hours.

“I made no proposals and no decisions were taken. Sadat indicated that he is prepared in the immediate days ahead to have further talks with us on negotiating possibilities quietly through diplomatic channels rather than in a more formal setting which he does not feel he can undertake at this time unless Israel also agrees to negotiate either with the Syrians or the PLO.

“I do not want to overemphasize the result of my meetings with Sadat but once again I am struck with the fact that he has taken the high road of statesmanship and that he is looking for ways to create some breathing space for us and to continue an effective role by the United States. We have a little breathing space. His public statement will help to put to rest the notion that U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Middle East have ended. It will be a setback for the USSR. The fact remains that if nothing is going on by mid-January he will be under unbearable pressure from the Russians and from his own people. Moreover, he has reiterated that he is very much looking forward to his visit with you, and we discussed the possibilities of its beginning about January 20.”

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 5, Nodis Memcons, November 1974, Folder 6. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. The November 5 meeting between Sadat and Kissinger took place at 9:30 p.m. in President Sadat’s bedroom at the Giza Residence. An uncleared draft memorandum of conversation is ibid., Box 4, Nodis Memcons, January 1974, Folder 2. No memoranda of conversation of meetings between Sadat and Kissinger or Fahmy and Kissinger on November 6 have been found.