133. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and John B. Connally1
C: Yes sir, Henry.
K: Where did I get you?
C: Out at the ranch; I’m at home.
K: John, I sat at dinner next to Ken Jamieson yesterday and this thing is a little more complex that we just thought. King2 had in fact written a letter to the President, which puts himself behind this plan so there’s no sense attempting to go around him out of the blue. What we now have to do is, and the only plan that has a chance of working, in answering the letter we send an emissary out there to deliver a reply and get it to King that way. Now, I wanted to get your opinion whether you think that’s a good idea.
C: Yes, I think that’s probably a damn good idea. I don’t know any other way you could. I don’t know [what] the content of the letter says.
K: Well he puts himself in effect behind his own Administration. Now Jamieson says that what we should reply is that we want a negotiation because he says they started with a similar demand from the Shah and came out all right. But then the next question is whom the hell can we send out with the reply. Course Jamieson says you are the guy we should send; I think [so] myself but I wanted your judgment and I told this to Jamieson that in the political climate now it might be a little conspicuous.
C: Yes, I think it would be.
K: I mean I don’t see how we can get you out there without getting a first class brouhaha going.
C: I don’t either.
K: Well whom can we send?
C: Well first, let me tell you something that perhaps you don’t know, and I don’t know whether it would change anything at all but in the Madison Hotel in Washington as of this moment, there’s a man, [Page 323] Saoud Haikal,3 the son of the King, who, according to a conversation he had with Bob Herring, Chairman of the Board of Houston Lighting and Power Company who went over to Saudi Arabia to talk to them about gas and building a methane plant over there, partners with the Saudi government, this man Emir Saoud Haikal has come to this country for the principal purpose of unofficially talking about Saudi Arabia oil policy and he has indicated that they’re going to have a new minister of oil in the next 60 days. Now he wants to see somebody in the government. He specifically mentioned Rogers Morton and Lincoln assuming that they are the people in government with whom he could talk about oil matters.
K: Why don’t we send him to Shultz?
C: And I think he ought to talk to … at this point I think …
K: Well are you going to be up here?
C: Yeah, I’m going to try to see him Monday.4
K: Well, why don’t you see him.
C: But on the other hand, I don’t know what your schedule is, you don’t know the details of it I guess, but it looks like you ought to see him, without bringing anybody else into it.
K: All right, I’ll see him Saturday morning. Can you arrange that or should I do it?
C: No, I can call and arrange it. I’ll just call and tell him to call your office. He wants to do it on an unofficial basis.
K: That’s exactly what I want.
C: And that’s what you want, and I think we should keep it on an unofficial basis more, and that’s all I know and I assume that information is correct.
K: That’s why I asked whether you’d do it.
C: All right, I’ll do it. I’ll arrange it.
K: Well, let me talk to Jamieson with that information.
C: And then I’ll see this man Monday morning.
K: Good and then let’s hold out decision until then. And then let’s you and me talk.
C: All right. And when I meet him I’ll be thinking about who might go over there as a representative of this country. All that seems to me is that if this is one of the assignments that the President had in mind weeks and weeks ago, that’s the only way you could justify my going.
K: That’s right and that’s how we would have to do it.[Page 324]
C: Otherwise it has a, you know, it has political implications that we ought not to have to try to explain.
K: Well my only problem is that in general I don’t like to get a brawl started without knowing where the cards are.
C: I believe it.
K: And if we could get an initial reaction and send you in the second round it would seem to me a lot better.
C: I would sure agree with that. And I’ll be thinking about who the hell we can go and send.
K: I mean I just am reluctant to go and use you up by sending you over there and getting you kicked in the teeth.
C: Yup, yup. Well, let me … let’s talk to Saoud Haikal first cause hell they want to talk about this very thing and then we’ll decide who to send over, okay?
C: All right, will you tell Ken that?
K: I will call him this minute.5
C: Thank you Henry.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 15, Chronological Files. No classification marking. Kissinger was in Washington; Connally was in Texas.↩
- King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.↩
- A transcription error; a reference to Prince Saud.↩
- July 31.↩
- In a telephone call that afternoon, at 4:21 p.m., Kissinger told Jamieson that he and Connally agreed that a letter to the King should precede an emissary “to see where the cards are stacked.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 15, Chronological Files)↩