248. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia1

232189. Subject: Saqqaf on Possible Moves on Oil Boycott. Ref: Jidda 5193.2 For the Ambassador from the Secretary.

If Saqqaf again brings up what I am supposed to have said to Egyptians per para one reftel,3 you should tell him you have reported [Page 702] this to me, and I have authorized you to say that it is simply not so. I never said Arabs were weak and would have to settle for whatever Israel offered, and I never dared Egyptians to prove otherwise by trying to cross canal or in any other way. You can be quite forceful in disa-busing Saqqaf on this score.
Re Saqqaf’s remarks on Arab oil strategy, you were quite right in telling him that best thing Arabs can do to strengthen our peace-keeping efforts is to ease the boycott. I do not, however, want to base our case on being solicitous of interests of Europeans and third-world countries or on seeking partial relief.
Our strategy is to make clear to Arabs that if they want our involvement in peace settlement efforts, they must first lift restrictions they have imposed rather than holding off on lifting restrictions until there is progress on settlement front. We want an end to interference with oil supplies for our fleet, but beyond that we want a return to situation that existed before production cutbacks and embargoes were imposed, not just a suspension of further cuts and restrictions. We have up to now downplayed talk of retaliation and want to keep our emphasis on one simple line of argument: the Arabs and world in general need a settlement at least as much as we do; our continuing involvement is essential if progress is to be made toward a settlement; and they will not get the kind of U.S. involvement that is necessary unless situation on oil front is returned to normal. This is not a threat but a statement of fact based on objective situation as it relates to public support here for effective U.S. involvement in peacemaking process with all the implications this has for U.S.-Israeli relations.
You should be guided by foregoing in future discussions with Saqqaf and other Saudis where you feel making these points would be effective.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 630, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Vol. IV. Secret; Priority; Nodis; Cherokee. Drafted by Atherton; cleared by Sisco and Pickering; and approved by Kissinger.
  2. Dated November 25. (Ibid.)
  3. According to paragraph 1 of telegram 5193 from Jidda, Saqqaf said that Kissinger had dared Sadat to cross the canal and had said that the Arabs were weak and that they would have to recognize this and swallow their pride and settle for whatever Israel offered. Kissinger was also reported to have said, “if the Arabs thought differently they should try and prove it.” Accordingly, “Sadat had taken the dare and the Arabs had won (or would have if it hadn’t been for massive U.S. aid); the Arabs were now in a much better position than they had been before; Israel and its supporters were no longer so confident of their superiority; and there is at last a real chance for peace. He [Saqqaf] said the Arabs could not have been in this position if they had not moved on October 6.” (Ibid.)