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

Secretary Kissinger has sent you the following report of his meeting with King Faisal:

I met with King Faisal for three hours at the Royal Palace in Riyadh, late Thursday evening November 8.2

First I gave him word of the agreement we had worked out with the Egyptians and Israelis to stabilize the ceasefire and ensure relief [Page 676]supplies to the Egyptian Third Army. He was pleased at the news. I then outlined again the strategy you intended to pursue in the coming weeks: to prepare the ground carefully in order to move decisively in the near future. Faisal was encouraged by this and assured me several times of his confidence in you and of his friendship for the United States.

In this context I raised the matter of easing the oil boycott. An energy crisis in America, I told him, would make your position very difficult. It would only strengthen the hand of those forces in the U.S. who were resisting a just settlement and who were seeking to undermine Presidential authority generally. I made the point subtly that we could handle an oil shortage economically but that its real significance was political and psychological as I described.

King Faisal assured me that nothing would please him more than to be able to maintain and even increase oil supplies to his American friends. But he emphasized he was under pressure from the radicals. He pointed out that all Arabs were united on the basic issues and he hoped we would move as expeditiously as possible toward a settlement. He did indicate that he would do his best to overcome his dilemma.

Immediately after our meeting the King sent his two principal advisers one after the other to encourage us in our present course. Prince Fahd, his Second Deputy Prime Minister, came by for a half hour, and Foreign Minister Saqqaf then met with me for an hour. Fahd said he would do his best to get the oil flowing again.3 The Foreign Minister said that Saudi Arabia was looking for an excuse to get out of its uncomfortable position of confrontation with the United States.

Foreign Minister Saqqaf came by again this morning, November 9,4 before my departure. He said Saudi Arabia needed some pretext to change its position. He thought the announcement of the opening of the peace negotiations (now planned for November 20) could be the occasion for a formal communication by you to Faisal on the oil boycott. He thought the result might well be favorable.

I invited King Faisal to Washington on your behalf. He said he could not come until after some more progress had been made towards peace.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Nov–Dec 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. In his November 8 meeting with King Faisal, Kissinger explained U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, and emphasized the U.S. desire to promote peace in the region and prevent the spread of Communism. Faisal talked about the regional problems created by Israel and his hope that the United States would abandon its support for Israel, stating “Israel would withdraw the moment Israel saw that you would no longer protect it, cuddle it.” He thought Israel a liability to the United States. Faisal also stated his “red hot” desire to end the oil production ban, stating that the embargo had nearly “incapacitated” his “nerves.” In response to Kissinger’s suggestion that the embargo be partially withdrawn, Faisal said that would happen only if the United States announced that Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories and allow the return of the Palestinians and if it did not, the United States would no longer support Israel. Kissinger noted that moving with such speed to such a decision was politically impossible. (Ibid.)
  3. Accounts of Kissinger’s meetings with Fahd and Saqqaf are ibid.
  4. No other record of this meeting was found.