274. Letter From President Nixon to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia1

Your Majesty:

I have received from Secretary Kissinger a full report of his trip to the Middle East, of the opening phase of the Geneva Conference, and, in particular, of his most recent meeting with Your Majesty.2 Based on this report, I continue to believe there is opportunity for progress toward a peace settlement.

As Your Majesty knows, much has already been accomplished. The ceasefire, the six-point agreement, the opening of the Peace Conference, important as they are, are only beginnings. We are committed, as I wrote you, to full support and implementation of the November 1967 Security Council Resolution 242.3 We have made progress also in developing the basic principles of a disengagement agreement with Egypt, subject, of course, to a number of details still to be worked out and negotiated. Israel has sent its military representatives to Geneva where they are meeting with Egyptian military representatives looking towards an early agreement on the disengagement of forces. We have also arranged for Defense Minister Dayan to come next week to the United States so that we can pursue the full details with him of a disengagement agreement. All of these are solid achievements brought about almost exclusively by United States actions.

I am deeply convinced that our two Nations stand at the threshold of a great turning point in history. We can, if we have the will, bring a new era of peace and prosperity to all the peoples of the Arab world. But should we fail, we will condemn the Middle East to a long and bitter continuation of the conflict which has for too long plagued the area. For my part, I pledge myself to do everything in my power to ensure that my second term as President will be remembered as the period in which the United States developed a new and productive relationship with the entire Arab world.

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I am also convinced, however, that only if the United States continues to play a major and decisive role in the negotiations now underway in Geneva can we hope for any lasting success. But in order to make it possible for me to move decisively it is necessary that the discrimination against the United States, which the oil embargo represents, be brought to an end. Thus, Your Majesty, I must tell you in all frankness that I have noted with dismay the December 25 decision of the Arab oil ministers in Kuwait to increase Arab oil production by ten percent to help meet the needs of Japan and various European countries while continuing the embargo against the United States. This action has put me in a most difficult position since it constitutes a continuation of a policy of discrimination against the United States. You know from our past exchanges that we believe it is essential that the United States be in a position to engage itself in a positive manner free of outside pressures. The activities of the last several months demonstrate clearly and without equivocation the role the United States has played and would intend to play in order to help bring about a just and durable peace agreement in the area. You know the great stress I place on close relations with the Arab world and with Saudi Arabia in particular. However, the clearly discriminatory action of the oil producers can vitiate totally the effective contribution the United States is determined to make in the days ahead. Therefore, I must tell you in candor that it is absolutely essential that the oil embargo and oil production restrictions against the United States be ended immediately.

I have felt free, Your Majesty, to write to you again so frankly because I know from all our recent exchanges of messages, most recently your letter of December 25,4 that you are as concerned as I am not only with achieving real progress towards peace but also with strengthening the long-standing friendship between our two countries. I am writing to President Sadat in a similar vein since I believe it is important that we all fully understand each other’s points of view, particularly since our role may prove to be decisive in the upcoming disengagement talks between Egypt and Israel.

In closing, I would like to express my gratitude for the cordial welcome and hospitality you have extended to Secretary Kissinger and his party on his most recent visit to your great country. He has reiterated to me how much Your Majesty values our continued friendship. I can assure you that this is also our desire, and that we look forward to working closely with you in the year ahead toward a solution of the political, economic and other problems which confront our two peoples. For this reason it is essential that the prevailing difficulties be resolved [Page 781] promptly so that we can look to a future in which the relationships between our two countries will be reaffirmed and strengthened.


Richard Nixon

P.S. I look forward to the future time when we may be able to meet again personally for a general discussion—not only of our bilateral situation but of the world situation as well.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Dec 73–Feb 74. Secret. The letter was transmitted in telegram 251342 to Jidda, December 28. (Ibid.) Nixon sent a companion letter to Sadat on December 28, stating his support for Resolution 242, reiterating the recent accomplishments of Kissinger’s trip to the Middle East, and stressing the need to end the embargo. (Ibid., Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt, Vol. VIII, Nov 1–Dec 31, 1973)
  2. For Kissinger’s meeting with Faisal, see Document 267. Kissinger’s report is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXV, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1973, Document 415.
  3. See Document 258.
  4. See Document 272 and footnote 3 thereto.