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

Secretary Kissinger has asked me to transmit the following message to you:

“I have completed six hours of intensive discussion with Asad2 based on the strategy that I would focus in Damascus on issues other than the disengagement line. On these some progress was made and most, if not all, would probably not prove irreconcilable after considerable further effort if we can eventually achieve agreement between the two sides on a line of disengagement.

“On these specific issues:

A. Syria agrees that the ceasefire should be an integral part of the disengagement agreement. While I am in the area Asad has agreed to reduce Syria’s shelling and stop raids;

B. He agrees that there should be a buffer zone and his ideas are sufficiently flexible to bridge the gap between Israel’s insistence on a UN force and Syria’s strong preference for an observation corps;

C. He agrees that there should be an exchange of POWs and missing in action as part of the disengagement agreement;

D. It is unclear at this point whether he will agree to mutual limitations of arms and forces which was a key element in the Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement but I think it is likely;

E. On the disengagement line, both sides are still far apart. If Israel does not move beyond the October 6 line, no settlement is possible. Even it it does, Asad’s objectives may be more ambitious than the negotiations can sustain.

“Asad was very positive about improvement in relations and said again you are very welcome to come to Damascus during your Middle East trip.

“I will go next to Alexandria for a few hours to fill in Sadat and return to Israel Saturday night to renew my talks with Mrs. Meir and her colleagues prior to a Sunday afternoon Cabinet meeting. It will be es[Page 221]sential that I bring to Damascus on Monday night a line within negotiating range.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 144, Country Files, Middle East, President’s Trip to Middle East, June 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A notation at the top of the first page reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. The conversation between Asad and Kissinger took place on May 3 at 5 p.m. in Damascus. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Box 1028, Presidential/HAK Memcons, March 1–May 8, 1974)