331. Memorandum of Conversation1

  • PARTICIPANTS
    • Umar al-Saqqaf, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
    • Ibrahim al-Sowayel, Saudi Ambassador to the United States
    • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
    • Joseph J. Sisco, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
    • Ambassador James Akins
    • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

[The meeting opened at luncheon, at which the above party were joined by Ambassador Bunker, Mr. Lord, Mr. Atherton, Mr. Saunders, Mr. Sabbagh, and additional Saudis. Following are excerpts from the luncheon conversation.]

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

Secretary Kissinger: One question I wanted to discuss with His Majesty is not oil but some long-term basic relationship between us not tied to oil.

Minister Saqqaf: Yes; the King likes to talk about this.

Secretary Kissinger: We won’t need to discuss oil because we are assuming it will happen at the next meeting of oil ministers.

Ambassador Akins: What was that again?

Secretary Kissinger: My understanding is that at the next meeting of the oil ministers, it will be lifted.

Ambassador Akins: Regardless of anything that happens?

Minister Saqqaf: I told this to the President.2 It will be lifted at the next meeting. I said there were no conditions.

Secretary Kissinger: That is right.

Minister Saqqaf: Those were my words.

Secretary Kissinger: That is right.

Minister Saqqaf: When I said it to the President, Fahmi wanted me to change it. I said, of course, when four heads of government send emissaries to you, they expect something to happen. But it is not a condition.

I am not quoting the heads, but my understanding is that we believe in the sincerity of the United States of America. So what for—this [Page 924]is our logic—do we complicate our relations with America and not help the Administration to be strong and to take more measures?

Secretary Kissinger: Exactly.

Minister Saqqaf: This is the right thing, I believe. We have to lift the embargo, help the Administration in America, and help the people there not be against the Arabs.

Ambassador Akins: That was the Saudi position before.

Minister Saqqaf: That was the message of the heads.

Ambassador Akins: When I saw the King, it was different.3

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s not debate it now. We are operating on the assumption that Omar stated just now. The President sent me here because there was no condition.

Ambassador Akins: Then I don’t think there is any need to take this up with the King.

Secretary Kissinger: We are operating on that assumption. I have to tell you, Omar, if it were not to happen, it would create a great crisis of confidence.

Minister Saqqaf: Yes. I am telling you what the King said in Algeria.4 [to Akins] I heard you told the King that conditions were not enough. I heard that. But I told the President—I repeat—when Minister Fahmi wanted to make it a little bit loose, our understanding in the north, we wanted you to make it strong.

Secretary Kissinger: The major thing was you made the decision for the next meeting. On the basis of this, he sent me on a mission to make a major effort in the Middle East—not for the embargo, but as a sign of good will.

Minister Saqqaf: That is right. Did Fahmi say anything different?

Secretary Kissinger: No.

Minister Saqqaf: Then you need not raise it with the King.

Secretary Kissinger: Jim was carrying out his instructions exactly as he was told.

Minister Saqqaf: [To Akins] You told the King this doesn’t help.

Secretary Kissinger: If the ministers’ meeting is March 10, it is obvious that the Syrian disengagement won’t be completed by March 10.

Minister Saqqaf: If you can tell us, it would help. By May?

Secretary Kissinger: By May, I think it can, yes.

We can get some withdrawal into the Golan, with tremendous effort. We have to agree on how to talk to the Syrians—because I think the principle of withdrawal is very important.

[Page 925]

Minister Saqqaf: I agree. This is what I say to others, to the French—we have to start with this step.

We are interested in economic relations.

Secretary Kissinger: We are prepared to do this, after the embargo is lifted, on a substantial scale.

Minister Saqqaf: I think Prince Fahd is expecting you.5

[The conversation then ended.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1028, Presidential/HAK Memcons, Memcons, 1 Mar–8 May 74. Top Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The meeting occurred at the Guest Palace. All brackets, with the exception of those indicating omission of unrelated material, are in the original.
  2. See Document 327.
  3. See Document 325.
  4. See footnote 3, Document 325.
  5. Kissinger’s meeting with Fahd is reported in a memorandum of conversation, March 2; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1028, Presidential/HAK Memcons, Memcons, 1 Mar–8 May 74.