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

22671. Subj: Oil Boycott. Ref: Jidda 552.2

When you see Saqqaf February 4, you should carry out in full the instructions in State 22597.3 You should tell him these instructions were received prior to your conversation with him reported reftel. And that they have been confirmed and reinforced in light of that conversation. You should make same points in your meeting in Riyadh February 5.
In addition you should say the following:
In view of the number of unfulfilled past assurances received from Saudi Arabia, we will accept no further assurances. In particular, we want no letter from Saudis that embargo will be lifted when Syrian-Israeli disengagement agreement concluded and implementation begun. You should leave Saudis with no doubt that President will not authorize a further American effort to achieve Syrian-Israeli disengagement unless embargo and production restrictions are lifted. Saudis must understand that President made statement in State of Union message, statement which reflected views which Saudis and others conveyed to US. If action is not taken by time of Tripoli meeting, President will have been put in an impossible position, will be charged with having misled American people. Saudis know that what he said in State of Union message was based on Saudi assurances; that an urgent meeting would be called to discuss lifting the embargo; and the chances of lifting the embargo very shortly are excellent (Jidda 479).4 Yet now we are told decision has been taken prior to any such meeting to maintain embargo until Syrian-Israeli disengagement achieved. You should also note that unless affirmative decision taken, we would have no alternative but to make public exchanges received from Saudis and others which would clearly show that assurances were given which have not been carried out. We have carried out our undertakings fully and there is no satisfactory alternative other than for the Saudis to do the same. Failure to do so will inevitably have far-reaching consequences in our overall relationships.
As indicated above, you should strongly discourage the sending of any Saudi letter to US which would constitute a written assurance on their part to lift embargo and production restrictions at such time as Syrian-Israeli disengagement agreement achieved and implementation begins. This position is unacceptable to US; and is unrealistic.
USG is fully aware of fact that disengagement on Syrian front is necessary next step. We are as committed to work for this as we were for Egyptian-Israeli disengagement and as we are for a final overall settlement.
It is totally unrealistic, however, to expect us to continue our peace efforts under pressure. Even if US were so inclined, opinion in US would not permit us to do so.
It is also totally unrealistic to expect Syrian-Israeli agreement can be brought about in 10 days between now and Tripoli conference. Saudis need only to reflect on time and effort required before Egyptian-Israeli agreement achieved to understand how unrealistic this is, even if Secretary were able to devote full time to effort in days immediately ahead. Fact is, however, that much of President’s and Secretary’s time must now be devoted to preparations for energy conference convening in Washington February 11.
Saudi position conveyed to you by Saqqaf February 3, amounts to giving Syria veto over future progress toward settlement. Have Saudis pondered implication of Saudi policy becoming hostage to Syrian policy?
We hope Saudis will reflect on serious consequences of responsibility they are assuming in adding Syrian disengagement agreement as new condition for lifting boycott. Question of confidence, which Saqqaf raised with you, cuts both ways. Whereas he says Syrian disengagement needed to establish confidence in USG, he should understand that our confidence in Saudis is shaken by continued addition of new conditions. We would urge Saudis to convey full weight of USG position to other Arabs, including Syria in particular, in course of their continuing consultations re lifting boycott.
You should again lay great stress on point contained in para 6 of previous tel (State 022597).
FYI. We recognize that fact King has written letter to President, linking lifting of boycott to Syrian disengagement agreement, greatly complicates problem of getting Saudis to turn around. Tactically, we assume it is desirable to avoid addressing ourselves to King’s letter at this stage, and foregoing presentation purposely finesses this question. If Saqqaf or others ask about reply to King’s letter, you should say you assume reply will be forthcoming in due course but they should be under no illusions it will change anything you have said.
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 207, Geopolitical Files, Saudi Arabia, 4 Jan–6 Feb 74. Secret; Flash; Exdis; Cherokee; Handle as Nodis. Drafted by Sisco and Atherton; and approved by Kissinger. Repeated to Cairo Immediate. Sisco sent a draft of this telegram to Kissinger, February 3. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 631, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Vol. V)
  2. Document 298.
  3. Document 297.
  4. See Document 292.