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

The following is the report of Secretary Kissinger’s meeting with President Assad on Thursday.

“I have just completed another five-hour meeting with President Assad.2 Enough progress was made to justify another round of talks, so [Page 297] I will spend most if not all of Friday in Israel and probably return to Damascus early Saturday.

“Tonight’s meeting produced an understanding of a concept of limitations on armament behind the disengagement lines that I think can now provide a realistic basis of negotiation on this subject. Specifically, we now have Assad’s agreement to put SAMs and the longest range (130 mm) artillery 25 kilometers from the disengagement line. This is an important achievement, but we still have to get agreement to limit the medium range (122 mm) artillery and tanks.

“My approach will be to try Friday in Israel to formulate what can be presented in Damascus as a U.S. proposal on limitations. This, you will recall, was the approach we used in the Egyptian-Israeli disengagement. In addition to major problems in reaching agreement with the key leaders in Israel on numbers of weapons and men in the limitations area, there will have to be a cabinet meeting.

“Besides the issue of limitations on which we are now concentrating, there seems to be tentative agreement on how to handle the separation of forces in the strategic Mount Hermon area. But on the size of the UN force, Israel is holding out for at least 2,000 and the Syrians want less than 1,000. Each of these items could take considerable time because a major problem in conducting these negotiations is that each issue becomes the subject of intensive bargaining over every detail. It is very different from the Egyptian negotiations when Sadat laid aside details in the interest of quick agreement. In order to put an end to this bargaining, I have tried to tell Assad that I must return to Washington.

“My plan is to return Monday evening at the latest.”

  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. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. The meeting between Asad and Kissinger took place on May 23 from 6 until 11:30 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 9)