26. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Nixon1

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass the following report to you:

“I have completed a second meeting with Asad.2 As I indicated to you in my previous report, Asad has agreed to let me hand over the POW list, and to authorize Red Cross visits. But he is taking a very tough position on the overall issue of disengagement. He has told me that if the Israelis come forward with a disengagement scheme that does no more than return the sides to the 1967 lines he will break off the talks. On the basis of past performance I am forced to believe that he means it and will do precisely that. Also on the basis of past performance, I expect it will be extremely difficult to obtain an opening position from the Israelis that will not run afoul of Asad’s prescrip-tion. Thus, I plan to work for the development and presentation to the Syrians of a proposal that is vague enough in its details to avoid the pitfalls possible on both sides while serving to get negotiations started. I will know more on this after I finish my meetings with the Israelis tonight.

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“In my first meeting with PM Meir this afternoon3 I turned over the POW list. She was grateful, and asked that she be given time to notify the families before we made any public announcement, thus the slight delay in the release time in Washington.4

“I will finish my first round of talks with the Israelis this evening and go on to Cairo tomorrow. I will report to you from there.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 129, Country Files, Middle East, Folder 1. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. A notation at the top of the page reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. The conversation between Asad and Kissinger took place on February 27 from 9:40 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Presidency in Damascus. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Box 1028, Presidential/HAK Memcons, January 1–February 28, 1974, Folder 1)
  3. The conversation between Meir and Kissinger took place on February 27 from 4:20 to 5:45 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 4, Nodis Memcons, January 1974, Folder 4) That conversation was immediately followed by a meeting between Kissinger’s negotiating team and the Israeli negotiating team, which lasted from 6 to 7:50 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem. Kissinger and the Israelis focused on various expectations for the upcoming negotiations with Syria. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1028, Presidential/HAK Memcons, January 1–February 28, 1974, Folder 1)
  4. The White House released a statement on February 27, before Meir announced to the Israeli public that she had received the POW list. On March 1, Red Cross inspectors visited the Israeli prisoners of war held by Syria.