247. Memorandum of Conversation1


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

President Ford: I want to fill the void. The question is how quickly we can do it. But we will do so.

The next question is how can we work together on a common strategy for the Middle East?

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President Sadat: To start with, the main item is the Palestinians. They are very greatly influenced by the Soviets. During March, the Soviets tried to turn the Palestinians. They could at that time be thwarted. Now the danger is great again. I recommend that the United States begin a dialogue with Arafat—openly.

President Ford: Your thought is that we begin unofficial but public talks? When do you think it should be done?

President Sadat: It should be done after the disengagement agreement is completed.

FonMin Fahmy: All you hear from the Palestinians is an attempt to get attention.

During the UN you should get in touch with some of them there.

President Sadat: Regarding the Jordanians. King Hussein is a nice man, but the Prime Minister2 is unreliable. His present course is full of contradictions between Jordan and Syria and the PLO. Hussein will listen to the advice of the United States. Therefore, the U.S. should make clear to Jordan the suicidal nature of that course.

President Ford: Does Asad understand the suicidal nature of that course?

President Sadat: He understands that in a crisis he has no capability and he doubts that he has Soviet support. Syria is trying to arrange a visit of King Hussein to Moscow. Asad is moderate. He wants to be in touch with the United States. Henry should stay in touch with him.

FonMin Fahmy: You must contact the Palestinians informally and split off the Jordanians. Syria is now dealing with Iraq. But that is another house of cards. Syria will not be subordinate to Iraq or vice versa.

President Sadat: There are 15,000 Russians in Syria. If the U.S. can keep in touch with all the parties, it would be a good step.

UNDOF renewal? Asad has already said that he would renew. I believe Israel can destroy Syria in one hour.

President Ford: Why did Asad join?

President Sadat: Because I forced him to do it.

President Ford: Will there be a joint move in Lebanon?

President Sadat: Everybody is too busy to get involved.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 133, Geopolitical File, Egypt, September 19–December 31, 1975. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office at the White House.
  2. Jordanian Prime Minister Zaid Rifai.