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

Your Majesty:

I want to reply without delay to your letter of February 3,2 because in this difficult period in our relations it is important that there be full and honest communication between us.

Your Majesty will surely understand my deep concern and disappointment that your efforts to bring about a prompt end of the oil embargo against the United States have not succeeded. I have placed great confidence in the positive indications received from your government and conveyed that confidence to the American Congress and people. Continuation of the embargo in these circumstances will not only place me personally in a difficult position, it will also seriously undermine the support I need to carry on the efforts we have undertaken looking toward the just and durable peace the Arab world seeks and to which we have dedicated ourselves.

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Your Majesty, since undertaking our commitment to begin working actively for a peaceful settlement, we have carried out every assurance we have given—in spite of the embargo, not because of it. As recently as my State of the Union address on January 30,3 I committed the United States to an active role in helping to achieve a just and durable peace in the Middle East on the basis of full implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and stated that the Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement was the first step in this process. Moreover, the Secretary of State and I have formally committed ourselves to work for disengagement on the Syrian front. In the final analysis, continuation of the embargo in these circumstances constitutes an expression of a lack of confidence in the President of the United States and in the assurance I have given.

I fear that if the ending of the embargo at the meeting of Oil Ministers in Tripoli on February 14 is now made dependent on conclusion of a disengagement agreement on the Syrian front, we shall be unable to play the role—which only the United States can play—that is necessary to achieve such an agreement. I am asking Ambassador Akins to inform Your Majesty of what we are doing and have pledged to do with respect to disengagement on the Syrian front. I believe we can succeed in this effort over the weeks ahead. Given the complexities of the problem and of our relationship with Israel, however, there is no possibility of achieving the results we both desire in the brief period remaining before the Tripoli meeting.

It pains me to write so somber a message to Your Majesty. I have always considered our relationship and the friendship between our two countries to be at the very foundation of the safeguarding of the interests we share in preserving stability, freedom and prosperity in your area. I know Your Majesty will receive this letter in the spirit in which it is written and that your wisdom will find a way to remove the shadow that has been cast over the relations between our two great countries.


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Dec 73–Feb 74. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Forwarded to Nixon on February 6 under a covering memorandum from Scowcroft. A handwritten notation on the letter reads: “Handed by President to Saudi Ambassador Al-Sowayel Feb 7, 1974, 5 p.m. to be hand-delivered to Riyadh.” See Document 309. The letter was sent to Riyadh, February 6 in telegram WH40361; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Dec 73–Feb 74.
  2. See Document 298.
  3. See Document 292.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears an indication that Nixon signed the original.