270. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

Mr. Sisco: Do you want to say a word about oil? I think there will be a good deal of interest here in the group.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, on oil, as those of you know who know the subject better than I do, you are aware there are really two issues. There is the issue of the level of production; there is the issue of the embargo. Lifting the embargo without raising the production doesn’t really do us much good, because we would then be competing with the Europeans for an already inadequate share of the total. So our objective is two-fold—to get them to increase their production, and secondly, to get them to lift the embargo. Our object is also to get this brought about without our having to bargain for specific terms on the Arab-Israeli settlement—because our view has been that if we once begin to let ourselves be blackmailed, this weapon will be used time and time again at every stage of the negotiations. And if we once get into a negotiation on specific terms in return for the oil, we will be negotiating with the wrong parties, perhaps without being able to deliver the other party. So the position we have taken with the Arabs, which I think is going to work, is that we have shown our good will by producing the conference, by establishing an agenda that has a clear direction, and by using our influence to get Israeli agreement to that agenda and to that direction. We will not under any circumstances make pronouncements as to the final goal in order to get a temporary alleviation of the oil problem. And I think that has become understood.

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I don’t know what the experts here think, but I consider that this increase in production is not a bad prelude to the lifting of the embargo—if this is where they are planning to go.

We certainly found the Saudis much more relaxed and much easier to talk with this time than on the last visit. In fact, I’m reaching the point where if a Foreign Minister doesn’t kiss me, I think there is something wrong. (Laughter)

Question: It is when they start burning the photos that you have to worry.

Secretary Kissinger: That is going to happen, too. It has been too easy.


Are there any questions?


(Whereupon at 3:30 p.m. the meeting was adjourned.)

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Box 720, Secretary’s Staff Meetings, 11/73–12/73. Secret. The minutes contained no list of attendees and no summary of the meeting decisions.