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

The Secretary has asked me to provide you with the following report of his meeting with King Faisal.

“I flew from Cairo to Riyadh, the desert capital of Saudi Arabia, for an hour and a half audience this evening with King Faisal 2 before going on to Amman tonight. With his wealth and prestige, the King carries great weight in those Arab countries which are important to our peace efforts, and I again sought his support in urging moderation on the Syrians and PLO during the period ahead.

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“I explained generally to the King, and in greater detail to his Foreign Minister, the problems the Rabat Summit decisions will cause us with the Israelis and at home. While I do not expect to change Faisal’s strong commitment to the Palestinian cause, I am hopeful that through his Foreign Minister, whom he is sending to New York, the Saudis will seek to exercise a moderating influence during the Palestinian debate in the General Assembly next week.

Faisal continues to take an oversimplified view of the Israeli side. The important thing, however, is that he reaffirmed his support for our peace efforts and authorized his Foreign Minister to make a statement at the airport strongly supporting our step-by-step approach. He also authorized Foreign Minister Saqqaf to reiterate Saudi Arabia’s policy of working to stabilize and ultimately bring down oil prices.

“In addition, the meeting with Faisal gave me an opportunity to relieve Saudi suspicions that had been aroused by recent Israeli-inspired press stories about our military supply to Israel, and to counter suspicions shown at the Rabat Summit about our policy toward a Middle East peace settlement.

“We continue to face a difficult road ahead, and I do not want to over-estimate the Saudi will or capacity to stand up alone to pressures from extremist elements in the Arab world. There is no doubt, however, that Faisal wants to continue to work with us, both bilaterally and in the Arab world and can be helpful in cooperation with other moderates, particularly Sadat. That the two continue to work closely together was evident from the fact that Sadat sent his special emissary, Ashraf Marwan, from Cairo to Riyadh after my meetings in Cairo this morning to brief the King before my audience with him. To sum up: we defused the situation and created an opening for negotiations. A lot now depends on the Israelis.

“I will meet with King Hussein tomorrow morning before going on to Damascus and Tel Aviv, after which we should have a clearer picture of where the Rabat Summit leaves us. At a minimum, however, I am hopeful that my current trip has defused the post-Rabat situation in the area and may possibly have opened up the opportunity for a further negotiations.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books of Henry Kissinger, Box 2, Europe, South Asia, Middle East, Kissinger Messages to President Ford, Folder 2, November 6, 1974. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. No memorandum of conversation has been found.