199. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1

    • Letter to King Faisal

King Faisal has recently shown increasing concern over US policy toward the Middle East and a growing tendency to involve himself and Saudi oil in the Arab-Israeli problem. He feels that we are making [Page 544] Iran and Israel our chosen instruments in the area and have been unresponsive to security problems in the Arabian Peninsula.

The US interests are to make Saudi Arabia as effective as possible in maintaining security in the Peninsula and to keep the Saudis away from the Arab-Israeli problem to the extent possible. For one thing, it will not serve our interests to have their oil production tied to progress on an Arab-Israeli settlement. For another, it would increase Faisal’s vulnerability were he to make himself responsible for producing an Arab-Israeli settlement by using oil as leverage. Any settlement that one can see Israel accepting will be unpopular with the Arabs. Our objective, it seems to me, should be to make the radical Arabs responsible for that settlement and not let Faisal be blamed for it.

We are trying to get this message to key Saudis since Faisal is emotional about Zionism and difficult to talk to on this one subject. However, Faisal’s more general frustrations over US policy cannot be ignored, and he continues to attach great importance to communicating directly with you. On the eve of his departure for the non-aligned conference in Algiers2 on September 4 where he will be under pressure to commit himself to use oil as a political weapon, it would seem an appropriate time to send him a personal letter which would address three substantive points:

  • —Our belief that regional cooperation offers the best prospect for insuring the security of Saudi Arabia and the stability and progress of the states in the Arabian Peninsula–Persian Gulf region. This is part of the line we took with the Shah, and the Saudis understand it. The purpose is mainly to remind Faisal that this regional cooperation and a strong US association with it are his main interests.
  • —Our desire to work with the Saudis as they seek productive outlet for the revenue generated by oil production. Faisal feels his oil people have not had adequate answers from us on these complicated questions. We hope to begin filling this gap when his oil minister and his deputy planning minister come here in September.
  • —Our preferred approach in working toward an Arab-Israeli settlement. We would remind him that we are making quiet diplomatic efforts and feel they need time to mature. Indirectly, the purpose is to restore his faith that we are in earnest so he can feel justified in staying away from the problem.

Recommendation: That you sign the attached letter to King Faisal.3 [Text cleared with Mr. Gergen’s office.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 761, Presidential Correspondence, Saudi Arabia, Faisal, 1972. Secret. Sent for action. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. The memorandum is marked “(Revised)”; see Document 198. Brackets are in the original.
  2. The 4th Summit Meeting of the Non-Aligned States was held in Algiers September 5–9, 1973.
  3. See Document 198.