64. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Nixon1
Following is Secretary Kissinger’s report of his Saturday meeting with President Assad:2
“In my message yesterday,3 I described to you the proposal which I planned on making as an American proposal in order to break the impasse over the differences relating to the Kuneitra area. You will recall my proposal was designed to give the Syrians some assurance that the Israeli defense line could be drawn in such a way that Assad would not feel that civilians in the town were completely hemmed in. The proposal would also require Assad to agree that the Israelis would retain control of the big hills west of Kuneitra.
“I presented this proposal to Assad and I am pleased to report that he has accepted it and we have therefore achieved a significant breakthrough on the question of the line which now gives me hope that an agreement can be achieved. In accepting this proposal, Assad made it clear that he was doing so almost exclusively because of his confidence [Page 288] in the United States and the role that it is playing in the Middle East to achieve permanent peace.
“At the urging of Assad, I have decided to extend my stay in the area in order to try to conclude the agreement during the course of next week. While there are a number of other issues which will cause serious difficulties, I am of the view that if I can get the Israelis to accept the American proposal on the line that this should be possible with major effort. If it is, it will give further impetus to the trends in the Middle East which we have been developing. Assad clearly made this decision in the hopes that this will bring further developments in the new trends in the area and closer relationships with the United States. To use his words, ‛it is not for Israel but for the U.S. that I am doing this.’
“I will make a major effort with Prime Minister Meir and her colleagues tonight and tomorrow, and I intend to be as firm as is necessary now that Assad has made what I consider to be a courageous decision.
“I have deferred my Cairo stop and will be cancelling a number of appointments with various Foreign Ministers in Washington next week, and I am asking Rush to lead the delegation at the CENTO meeting which convenes on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 45, HAK Trip Files, Middle East Memos and Security, April 28–May 31, 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.↩
- Kissinger met with Asad on May 18 from 4:05 until 6:50 p.m. at the Presidential Palace in Damascus. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 8, Nodis Memcons, May 1974, Folder 5)↩
- Document 63.↩