253. Memorandum of Conversation1

    • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Dr. James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense
    • William E. Colby, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
    • Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
    • Maj. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

Kissinger: We had a message from the Saudis2 that a Presidential letter would help them get off the embargo.

Schlesinger: We should establish their bona fides.

Kissinger: No. There are two letters.3 One was through the State channel direct to me. The two reinforce each other.

The leaking is terrible.

Colby: I propose we have a memo on this.

[There was a discussion on the NSC meeting of 24 October.]

Kissinger: The Saudis are blinking. It would kill the Europeans if they lifted the embargo on us before them.

Schlesinger: They think we knocked off Idris.4

Kissinger: They have never played in this league before. They are scared.

Schlesinger: We need to build a presence in the Middle East.

Kissinger: It is essential.

Is the Oriskany an attack carrier?

Schlesinger: Yes. Did you see the Moynihan cable?5

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Kissinger: I will be glad to rename the ocean if it will solve this problem. He is not out there to express his views on our naval deployment in an ocean named after … It was named after the American Indians—that is why we’re sending the Oriskany.

Schlesinger: There are other base possibilities—Durban, Lorenco Marques. This might be a good time to do it as a reaction to the Middle East. Now it can be interpreted as shoring up our Middle East policy.

Colby: Do we get anything out of the Africans?

Kissinger: Can’t we overthrow one of the sheikhs just to show that we can do it?

Colby: We need a base in more than one place so that we aren’t completely dependent.

Schlesinger: How about Ethiopia?

Kissinger: Great. I objected to … Will they let us?

The Paks want us to build a naval base. They would give us the facilities.

Schlesinger: We should start in Bahrein.

Kissinger: [1 line not declassified]

Colby: [4 lines not declassified]

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 2, November 29, 1973. Secret. All brackets, except those that indicate omissions, are in the original. This luncheon meeting took place in the White House Map Room.
  2. See Document 246.
  3. The second letter was not further identified. Possibly a reference to the message in Document 241.
  4. During the course of a conversation recorded in a November 28 backchannel message, in which Faisal and Fahd asked an intermediary to explore a mutually acceptable compromise to end the oil embargo, Fahd also asked the intermediary to find out whether the United States was planning “to do to us what they did to King Idris in Libya.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Nov–Dec 1973)
  5. Not further identified.