232. Memorandum of Conversation1

PRESIDENT’S MEETING WITH REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Dr. James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[The meeting began with a discussion of oil decontrol strategy.]2

President: The next item is the House item—the Turkish aid vote on Wednesday. The need for a victory on this is more evident than ever. I have had two breakfasts here for about 260.3

Congressman Michel: We don’t have a count yet, but the breakfasts have been tremendously effective.

Kissinger: Let me just comment on a few of the arguments that are being made. The Administration did carry out the law, in the sense that we did stop new commitments. We didn’t announce it because we [Page 767] didn’t want to prevent a negotiation. Second, this is not a matter of choosing between Greece and Turkey. Having no progress is more harmful to Greece, because it will prevent a Cyprus settlement, which Karamanlis needs. Then why doesn’t Greece support our action? The fact is that no Greek can publicly support restoring aid to Turkey. Makarios is the chief villain in this respect and his interest is in continued turmoil.

Congressman Cederberg: You keep saying “restoring aid.” This doesn’t restore aid. There are many who never vote for any aid. This lets them get material they paid for.

President: Yes. Plus it allows them to buy things. There is no aid.

Congressman Rhodes: What role does the Greek Church play in all this?

Kissinger: I am not clear on the motives here, but Iakavos has been no help at all. The Greek-American Community is very stirred up with out any understanding of the real issues.

President: Jim, how about the military side?

Schlesinger: These installations, Mr. President, are irreplaceable. 21/2 lines not declassified]

This is our last chance. Turkey has been willing to wait until the House votes. But if it doesn’t pass, Turkey will go down the irrevocable path of closing us out.

Congressman Rhodes: Kennedy fanned the flames on refugees. Is there anything that can be done there to defuse it?

Kissinger: There is money in the bill for refugees, but agreement really depends on a settlement. We would certainly welcome any refugee relief Congress would vote, but a long-term solution is only possible if there is a settlement. In January, Turkey agreed that 8–12,000 could be resettled in no man’s land. The Greeks stopped that because they were afraid we would claim that substantial progress was made. We might be able to resurrect that.

President: Relief is just a handout. The only way we can solve it is to get a settlement so they can be resettled. Only with a settlement can we be helpful.

Congressman Devine: Aid to Turkey is as helpful to Israel as anyone else. Over the weekend, the Jewish Community has raised more hell over arms to Jordan than Turkey.

Kissinger: The Israeli Embassy swears they are pressuring Rosenthal, but I don’t see the results. The danger of pushing the anchor of the Eastern Mediterranean away from us is obvious—it should be to Israel. Hussein came to us a year ago saying the Syrians had offered him Soviet air defense. We, after a year of talks, agreed to sell them Hawks, with only a few now and the rest spread over several years. It [Page 768] was a tough choice, but we believed it was better for us to do it than for Syria and Iraq with the result that they would be tied into the Syrian- Iraqi air defense net. The Jewish Community doesn’t realize it is not just a matter of us giving it or them not getting it—it is us or the Soviet Union.

President: This equipment is purely defensive. Since the October war, we have delivered to Israel $800 million of equipment—much of it offensive. And over the two years we’ve given over $2 billion to Israel.

Congressman Devine: The ploy behind this is to put pressure for more arms for Israel.

President: Israel has in its budget $2.6 billion in aid from the United States. That they put right in their budget.

Congressman Cederberg: What is the difference between your bill and the Senate bill? Fraser4 said he would support the bill but he was worried about what would come from the conference.

President: The Senate voted complete removal. The House bill forbids grant aid.

Kissinger: The Fraser Amendment prevents foreign military sales.

Congressman Devine: The House conferees will have to hang tough on Fraser. Fraser wants some assurance we will not yield in conference.

President: We would hope the House bill could be improved more toward the Senate bill.

Congressman Devine: This is a real problem. Fraser wants assurances.

Schlesinger: Our companies have charged Turkey even for contract violation when they couldn’t take delivery. Some remittance of that would help.

Congressman Rhodes: We could do that maybe in conference or on the aid bill. We shouldn’t do it on the House bill.

Senator Case: Wouldn’t it be harder for the Senate to take a softer line?

President: I would hope you would hang fast.

Congressman Devine: I changed my position and I think we need to talk to some of these people on the fence. Now that I have converted, I want to win.

[Omitted here is discussion of other items.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 282, Memoranda of Conversations, Presidential File, July 1975. Confidential. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House. The List of Participants does not include the names of the congressmen who attended the meeting.
  2. Brackets are in the original.
  3. The first meeting with the Republican leadership took place on July 10 at 8 a.m. (Memorandum of conversation; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 13, 7/10/75) The second meeting with the joint Congressional leadership was held on July 14 at 8 a.m. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid.)
  4. Representative Donald Fraser (D–Minnesota).