246. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Ismail Fahmy, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs

The President: I am delighted to have you here, Mr. President. I felt that our meetings at Salzburg were personally and substantively the most constructive meetings I have had since I have been President. This is a good opportunity to show our two peoples what our good relations can do. Your visit here I am sure will be an enduring basis for our relations in the future.

President Sadat: I must thank you for the efforts that you made after our meeting at Salzburg. Without these efforts, we could not have achieved this Sinai agreement. I must congratulate you. For the first time, the Israelis hear logic and firmness. It is for the benefit of the Israelis as well as of my [Arab] colleagues—even if neither of them understand it now. Let me thank you for your help. Henry’s tireless efforts have been marvelous. I look forward to when you visit us, Mr. President. Let the whole Arab world see our relationship.

The President: I look forward to it.

President Sadat: As we have agreed in Salzburg, it is a long road ahead of us.

The President: You must work with us on the timing. But I can assure you I will be as firm in the future as I have been in the past. There is no sense in taking a number of little steps when we can take a big [Page 864] step. That agreement was a terrible strain. We might as well take a broader view.

President Sadat: By your efforts you have made it easier for us to take the final step.

[The President explained the American political situation. He discussed the senselessness of the Turkish aid cut-off.2 He pointed out that NATO is in good shape.]

President Sadat: Giscard, whom I just met in Paris, has severe flu.

For this visit, I have nothing special. But I would like to raise two points: First is economic help. We would hope that you can change our short-term loans into long-term loans. The economic situation in Egypt appears to be in bad shape, but the combination of reopening the Suez Canal and recovering the oil will give us $700 million. We hope to have your help.

The other point is armament.

[Dr. Kissinger explained the parliamentary situation in the Congress. The thrust was that no formal sale of arms to Egypt could probably be made until March of 1976.]3

President Sadat: The backbone of our air force is the MIG–17. The Russians have said it is now obsolete. The most agreeable plane to us is the F–5E, which the Saudis and Iran have. I would like to request one squadron of these. We would also want the TOW missile.

Dr. Kissinger: You should know that the embargo on arms sales is about to be lifted from Germany.

After the agreement is fulfilled, then we can talk about it.

President Sadat: The Suez is moving along marvelously.

Asad would not get anything from the USSR undermining the agreement.

[Dr. Kissinger showed him a recent intelligence report on Syrian military preparations. See attached.]4

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President Sadat: I do not think that Syria will go to war. They are doing this mostly for domestic reasons to show how tough they are.

Maybe Lebanon is the cause.

The President: What about Lebanon?

President Sadat: I have been reluctant to speak publicly on this because both sides are to blame. The army is weak. The PLO is a state within a state. Saiqa, in the guise of the PLO, is decisive and mischievous. Armaments and money are pouring into Lebanon from all sides. I see no outlet. What do you think, Ismail?

Fahmy: It needs a big mediation.

Dr. Kissinger: By whom?

Fahmy: I have no clear idea.

President Sadat: Maybe the Secretary General of the Arab League. The PLO is a state within a state. Please make sure, Mr. President, that the Israelis do not intervene. Nobody in the Arab world will believe that there is no coordination.

The joint Egyptian-Syrian command no longer exists. The Syrians have not asked Gamasy to replace Marshal Ismail as head of the Joint Command.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 133, Geopolitical File, Egypt, September 19–30, 1975. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office at the White House. Brackets are in the original.
  2. On February 5, Congress cut off all military aid to Turkey in response to Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus following its July 20, 1974, invasion of the island.
  3. On October 30, President Ford wrote to Congress proposing specific amounts for security assistance programs to be included in the FY 1976–1977 foreign assistance legislation. His proposal requested $740 million in security support assistance and $1.5 million in military credits for Israel and $750 million in security support assistance for Egypt. He also recommended a Special Requirements Fund of $50 million to reinforce the Middle East process, especially the cost of deploying American civilian technicians in the Sinai. (Public Papers: Ford, 1975, Book II, pp. 1756–1762)
  4. Attached but not printed. The intelligence report, entitled “Syrian Military Movements,” reported that Syrian ground forces had been placed on a high alert posture and that reports showed movement of Syrian forces toward the Golan Heights. A handwritten notation at the top of the report reads, “Shown to Sadat, 10/27/75.