285. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

The President: What is happening in Lebanon?

Kissinger: Our big problem now is Egypt wants us to get the Syrians out. [less than 1 line not declassified] Arafat is asking Egypt to get the Syrians out.2

The President: Arafat was just recently blasting Egypt.

Kissinger: I think we are okay on our present course. I think over the long run the Lebanese developments will help. I think Arafat will lose his influence in favor of Saiqa. This will remove the PLO’s veto over the actions of Syria. The danger is that Asad may be overthrown.

The President: But if this works out, won’t he be strengthened?

Kissinger: He may be thrown out anyway. He has been in there longer than anyone else. If my prediction is right, we may have a unique peace window next year.

The President: Won’t all this help with the renewal of UNDOF?

Kissinger: Asad, we have proved, is scared to death of the Israelis.

The President: How about the Sixth Fleet?

Kissinger: I think we should keep it there until a new Lebanese President is elected.

Rumsfeld: The problem is money for steaming time.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Lebanon.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 221, Geopolitical File, Middle East, Donald Rumsfeld, 1975–76. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office at the White House.
  2. Syrian troops moved into Lebanese territory early on April 9.