239. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Vice President Rockefeller
  • Mr. Rogers Morton, Secretary of Commerce
  • Republican Congressional Leaders (List Attached)


  • Energy, Arms Embargo on Turkey, Sinai Agreement, and Handling of Intelligence Material in Congress

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Arab-Israeli dispute.]

Turning to the Middle East, the President asked Senator Scott to describe the situation in the Senate.

Senator Scott responded that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was holding an executive session today to consider the draft resolution approving the U.S. technicians in the Sinai.

[Page 847]

Senator Case noted that the subject has not been discussed in the full Committee since the briefings provided by Secretary Kissinger and Under Secretary Sisco two weeks ago. He noted that the Committee’s problem is whether it can get some unclassified statement of U.S. undertakings and assurances on the public record so that the American people would know the whole story behind the recent Sinai Agreement. Senator Case observed that if this could be done, the Senate could pass the resolution quickly. If it is not done, there will be a great deal of trouble, and he would be reluctant to go to the floor for a vote if he could not lay out fully the record in some unclassified way. He noted that he was in contact with Secretary Kissinger on this problem.

The President asked Senator Scott when the full Senate would vote.

Senator Scott reported that a vote was unlikely before Tuesday or Wednesday2 of next week.

Senator Case said that he thought the Hawk problem was settled very nicely. There was a small problem with the King after the agreement was reached, but that appeared to be because the King had not read the standard contract language involved in the sale of the weapons. The King’s outburst was somewhat surprising but equally surprising was his sudden retraction. Senator Case said there was no longer any problem in the Congress because it was relying on its confidence in the assurances the President had given in his letter to the Senate and the House.

The President said that in regard to the controversy over the Pershing missiles,3 one of the first things he was presented when he took office last fall was the Israelis’ military shopping list called Matmon B.4 He noted that it was just a list of all the things the Israelis wanted but no U.S. commitments were involved. The Pershing missile was one of the items on that list. The Pershing request was resubmitted to the U.S. during the most recent round of peace negotiations. The President stressed that we made no commitment on the missile and promised only to study carefully the Israeli request for this missile, which was but one item on a very extensive shopping list.

The President asked John Rhodes where the Middle East Agreement stood in the House.

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Congressman Rhodes responded that the House is waiting for the Senate to act.

Congressman Anderson said that he wanted to echo the words of Senator Case. The Congress must put to rest the feeling that there are some secret agreements not yet revealed which commit the United States. Unless this issue can be cleared up for the public record, there will be trouble bringing the resolution to a vote. He noted that some Members of the House are very unhappy over reports that Secretary Kissinger had referred in testimony to the value of something called “constructive ambiguity.”

Senator Case said to the President that it would be very helpful if he could act to send up the unclassified summary of the various commitments and assurances. Senator Case went on to say that with all due respect for Henry Kissinger, he does have a reputation on the Hill for “constructive ambiguity.”

Senator Scott said the Secretary has a reputation for just plain ambiguity.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Arab-Israeli dispute.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 282, President’s File, September 1975, Folder 2. No classification marking. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House. Attached but not printed is a list of the persons attending.
  2. September 30 or October 1.
  3. Secretary of Defense Schlesinger had repotedly taken the position that Israel would have to wait to receive modern weapons, such as the Pershing missile, until U.S. forces were equipped, despite the U.S. assurances in the U.S.-Israeli memorandum of agreement (Document 227). (“U.S. Delays Seen on Arms to Israel,” New York Times, September 20, 1975, p. 7)
  4. See Document 96.