73. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 150. Please pass the following message to the President:

Begin message:

1. Both sides gave evidence today of a small amount of give in their respective positions which has provided the opportunity to keep the negotiation alive.2 We are approaching an agreement on thinned out zones but the going is tough. There was some progress on other issues.

2. The critical difference which I will try to bridge in the next twenty-four hours is the question of how far forward the Syrian defense line should be. Assad is insisting that it be moved up anywhere between four to six kilometers to coincide with the October 6 line, while Israel has resisted this on the understandable ground that it will leave only a small two kilometer buffer and bring Syrian guns close to Israeli guns. I told Assad that I would make one more effort, that he will have to make a final decision tomorrow when I return on the assumption that I will be able to bring back Israeli agreement to some movement forward on the part of his defense line but not as far as he wants. I am meeting with Mrs. Meir and her Cabinet colleagues tomorrow morning and will return to Damascus late tomorrow afternoon.

3. There are still issues to be resolved regarding the size of the UN force and the nature of limitations in the zone beyond the ten kilometer zone.

4. This negotiation could go either way in the next twenty-four hours. I would feel more confident if I was not faced with an outgoing Cabinet in Israel in the last twenty-four hours of its life and an Assad who, while being very intelligent, is negotiating tenaciously every point as if he had a record to make—very much unlike Sadat who didn’t bother with many of the marginal points.

End message

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 45, HAK Trip Files, Middle East, HAKTO 1–179, April 28–May 31, 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only; Immediate.
  2. No records of conversations on May 25 between Asad and Kissinger or the Israeli negotiating team and Kissinger have been found.