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

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass the following report to you:

“I met for four hours today with President Asad in Damascus.2 The entire conversation was relaxed and extremely friendly, but Asad left no doubt about his concern that Egypt will enter into a separate agreement with Israel. Despite my explaining to him in detail the difficulties it would cause to inject the Golan Heights into the negotiations, he was firm in insisting that the next step should be a simultaneous one involving both Egypt and Syria. There was an explicit threat that Syria would cause problems for Egypt both internally and in the Arab world if Egypt went it alone.

“I assured Asad that Sadat has always made clear he will not enter into a separate peace settlement with Israel, but I avoided any commitment to include Syria in the present round and I gave him no details about Sadat’s present thinking. At the same time I assured him that we recognized the need to make an effort on the Syrian front, once a next-stage Egyptian-Israeli agreement had been concluded.

“I probed Asad’s ideas about what a new Golan agreement might look like. I found that the Syrians have clearly been giving some thought to this, although their ideas are non-starters so far as Israel is concerned. Asad made no effort to press the idea of going to Geneva or bringing the Soviets in; he left no doubt that he would prefer to work through us. He made a largely pro forma pitch for the Palestinians, but did not argue the point when I explained why we cannot deal with this issue at the present time.

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“I stressed to Asad the importance of there being some political concessions to Israel in the direction of non-belligerency in any future agreement. I asked that he give some thought to this prior to my next trip.

“By leaving matters with him that we would defer any decisions about how to proceed until my next visit, I believe we have at least bought some time with the Syrians. Hopefully they will remain manageable long enough for us to make a major effort on the Egyptian front, although I cannot be entirely sure of this. I understand Sadat’s concern much better now.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books of Henry Kissinger, Box 5, February 10–18, 1975, Middle East and Europe, HAK Messages for President, February 14, 1975. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. No memorandum of conversation has been found.