24. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon1

27121. Subj: Response to Message From President Assad to the Secretary. Ref: Damascus 97.2 Beirut pass Damascus.

1. Scotes should convey the following oral message from the Secretary to President Assad in most expeditious manner.

2. Begin message:

The Secretary wants to thank President Assad for the message conveyed to him through Mr. Scotes the evening of February 9. The Secretary is confident that on the basis of President Assad’s acceptance of the procedural proposal set forth in his letter of February 5,3 it will be possible to initiate negotiations looking toward a Syrian-Israeli disengagement agreement. Specifically, he is confident he can elicit a concrete proposal from the Israelis and, as soon as Red Cross visits begin, get them to send a senior official to Washington for intensive discussions with the Secretary. As the Secretary indicated in his February 5 letter to President Assad, as soon as the oil embargo question has been resolved he will initiate with the Israelis the steps outlined in our procedural proposal.

The Secretary understands that discussions are now under way among the Arab leaders concerned on the question of lifting the embargo.4 He welcomes this development and looks forward to hearing the results in the very near future so that he can get things moving with regard to disengagement on the Syrian front. In this connection, the [Page 123]Secretary reiterates what he has said before—further steps on our part must await a solution of the embargo question.

The Secretary wants President Assad to know that he is communicating also with President Sadat, King Faisal, and President Boumedienne in the above sense.5 Meanwhile, he wants again, on behalf of President Nixon and on his own behalf, to assure President Assad of our determination and commitment to make a major effort to achieve Syrian-Israeli disengagement as rapidly as possible as a further initial step toward a just and durable peace settlement in the Middle East. End message.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1181, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Peace Negotiations, February 9–15, 1974. Secret; Cherokee; Nodis; Immediate. Repeated Immediate to Cairo and Jidda. Drafted by Atherton; cleared in S/S; and approved by Kissinger.
  2. This reference is incorrect. It should be telegram 57 from Damascus, which transmitted Asad’s agreement to Kissinger’s procedural formula. See footnote 3, Document 22.
  3. See Document 21.
  4. A reference to a meeting of Arab leaders in Algiers taking place that week to discuss the oil embargo.
  5. Documentation on the linkage between lifting the oil embargo and achieving a Syrian-Israeli disengagement agreement is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969–1974.