135. 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 on his latest observations now that he has completed his Middle Eastern stops.

“Now that I am flying to Europe and have completed all of my Middle Eastern stops, the latest today being talks with King Faisal and his key advisors,2 I want to share with you my latest observations. There are two principal unanswered questions which concern me as I look ahead to my next mission to the Middle East.

“First, will Prime Minister Rabin and his key advisors take the major strategic decision to withdraw east of the passes and out of the oil fields and bring within reason the kind of quid pro quos they will insist upon from Sadat? I, of course, hope so, and the Israelis have no rational alternative. The formulas developed by Sadat can be built upon if Israel accepts the real situation. But prediction is most uncertain. The public statements being made by Rabin since I left Israel seem unduly rigid and are likely to have the effect of reducing his flexibility once we get into the detailed negotiations in early March.

“Second, is the critical question as to whether Sadat will feel able to move ahead on an agreement without a simultaneous agreement between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. What has impressed me is the strength of Asad’s expressed intention to cause difficulties for the Egyptians if they go ahead on their own in this next piecemeal step. An added factor is Faisal’s view as expressed to me today in which he underscored that he was opposed to the idea of another step by Egypt alone on the grounds that this would split the Arab world and would pose serious problems for Saudi Arabia. Even if we are able to get common ground achieved between Egypt and Israel on the next step, it is altogether possible that the combined pressure from Asad and Faisal that there must be a parallel step on the Golan Heights could become a critical impediment to Sadat’s freedom of action.

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“In my meeting today with Faisal and his advisors I underscored our determination to make rapid progress towards peace in the area and our desire to cooperate closely with Saudi Arabia on economic matters. I told the King we will be consulting closely with him as we move ahead on the negotiations over the next several weeks and arranged for Under Secretary Robinson to hold immediate follow-up talks with Saudi officials on economic issues.

“On the political side, Faisal wished us well and underscored the need for progress on a very urgent basis. Leading to an overall settlement on the question of resuming the Geneva Conference, he said it would be better not to go to Geneva until we are ready to endorse an overall settlement. He sees the opportunities given to the Soviet Union to exploit any Geneva convention.

“On the economic side, I told Faisal, Fahd and Yamani that we are prepared to work with Saudi Arabia bilaterally as well as multilaterally to cooperate and coordinate in dealing with such questions as preparing for a constructive producer-consumer conference (rather than a chaotic confrontation), a possible long-term agreement on a minimum oil price, and investment of oil revenues in the United States. I also indicated our interest in helping the Saudis develop their economy through the Joint Commission and by increasing their agricultural and fertilizer production.

“The King reacted favorably, saying he wanted to work closely with us to remove obstacles between producers and consumers and to agree to things of mutual interest to both countries.

“Last night I had a good talk with Hussein at Aqaba,3 reassuring him of continued U.S. support after Rabat. He is against going to Geneva until his problem with the other Arabs and the PLO is resolved. He is also worried about Syria’s determination to work with the PLO to forestall a separate Egypt–Israel agreement but believes that while it would be most difficult, Sadat would still be inclined to accept such an agreement if there was no other alternative. Hussein would like to call on you in Washington in late April and I have asked Scowcroft to arrange a date.

“I now go on to Bonn as the first stop in Europe.”

  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 16, 1975. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. No memorandum of conversation has been found of a meeting between King Faisal and Kissinger. A memorandum of conversation of Kissinger’s meeting with Prince Evron, February 15 at 3:10 p.m. at the Royal Guest House in Riyadh, is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 208, Geopolitical File, Saudi Arabia, February 5–March 26, 1975, Folder 4.
  3. No memorandum of conversation has been found.