332. Memorandum of Conversation1

  • PARTICIPANTS
    • King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saud
    • Umar al-Saqqaf, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
    • Prince Fahd ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
    • Prince Nawwaf, Adviser
    • Ibrahim al-Sowayel, Ambassador to the USA
    • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Ambassador James Akins
    • Joseph J. Sisco, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
    • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff
    • Alfred L. Atherton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, NEA

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

Secretary Kissinger: I had occasion to tell your Foreign Minister2 that in recognition of His Majesty’s leadership we are prepared to coordinate our foreign policy with His Majesty in the Arab world.

King Faisal: Our sincere hope is that we will be cooperating and that we will be standing solidly together looking with the same eye.

[Page 926]

Secretary Kissinger: That is our intent. Indeed, I have instructed our Ambassador to begin talks with your Foreign Minister in this sense, especially with respect to the Emirates and the southern part of the peninsula.

King Faisal: We are certainly prepared to do so. At the same time we hope you will succeed in eradicating the problem of the dispute between the Arab States and Israel so that that frees us to devote all the time in the pursuit of this objective.

Secretary Kissinger: We will pursue our policy of bringing peace in the area, and simultaneously we are prepared to strengthen our relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

King Faisal: We hope and pray to God that as soon as possible He grants success to this endeavor looking toward that goal.

Secretary Kissinger: Indeed we are prepared to begin talking about long-term cooperation in the military field, in the economic field, and in the scientific field, in each of which we would be prepared for substantial cooperation with His Majesty when he thought the time appropriate.

King Faisal: We are fully prepared to move along this path with all our capability.

Secretary Kissinger: I may point out that in the military field we are painfully aware that there have been some delays in dealing with the requests and we will overcome these technical obstacles. We would be willing either to receive a Saudi Arabian military mission or to send a mission here on a substantial program, including the Navy and the Air Force.

King Faisal: Whichever you prefer.

[The King talks briefly to Prince Fahd.]

We would like to see that happen as expeditiously as possible. And for the dialogue to be effective it would be useful if both those things occurred at the same time; you would send people here and we would send them there.

Secretary Kissinger: Why do we not begin, Your Majesty, by setting a date next week through our Embassy and your Foreign Minister.

King Faisal: We are ready any time you want.

Secretary Kissinger: We will instruct our Ambassador in the very near future.3

If I may say on a rather delicate thing, Your Majesty, we would not object if Your Majesty transferred some of these weapons to friendly countries, especially Egypt, to reduce Soviet influence there.

[Page 927]

King Faisal: The Soviets are not sending to Egypt arms or anything else.

Secretary Kissinger: This is why a way must be found to keep their capability; and we have temporary domestic difficulties so we are looking for alternative routes of supply.

King Faisal: We certainly hope that at the same time relations between Egypt and the US will be such so as to preclude their even needing to say hello to the Soviet Union.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

[Kissinger:] In line with the cooperation I have been describing, we are prepared to send a mission to Saudi Arabia to deal with questions of economic and technical cooperation on a long-range basis.

King Faisal: We will welcome this with the greatest pleasure.

Secretary Kissinger: With Your Majesty’s approval, I will instruct Ambassador Akins to begin talks with appropriate officials of your government.

King Faisal: I have no objection.

Secretary Kissinger: Our objective is to work with Your Majesty and to strengthen our friendship on a long-term basis.

King Faisal: These are hopes for whose success we pray.

Secretary Kissinger: We are prepared to transform them into reality in a spirit of friendship and far-sightedness.

King Faisal: These steps are bound to widen and strengthen relations between us.

Secretary Kissinger: I would like to touch on one other subject very briefly: the embargo. It was our President’s understanding from the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia and Egypt4 that the embargo will be lifted at the next meeting of Arab Oil Ministers which will take place in the near future.

King Faisal: We will certainly work for this end. We are anxious to see it come out this way. But there is one obstacle: the separation of forces on the Syrian front. Once that is done, it will remove the last obstacle.

Secretary Kissinger: It cannot be done by the next meeting of Oil Ministers. It was our President’s impression from the Foreign Ministers that the embargo will be lifted at that meeting. He would never have authorized me to come to the Middle East if he had thought any conditions were attached to our efforts.

King Faisal: We will do our utmost, but we sincerely want Syrian disengagement to take place. This will remove the arguments from the [Page 928]hands of those who point an accusing finger at us and who do not want to go along with lifting the embargo. We have followed this course since the Algiers Summit.

Secretary Kissinger: We will do our utmost on disengagement. The embargo is not an economic problem for us, but it is inconsistent with our dignity to be pressed by our friends, especially after the great efforts we have made. Since the President has given his word, the continuing pressures help his political enemies and undermine his and my positions. No Secretary of State has spent this much time with Arab leaders or has tried to build so much friendship. The embargo is a political and moral problem, not an economic one. If it continues, it will weaken those who are pursuing the course Your Majesty recommends. But Your Majesty has heard all of this, and I don’t want to have an argument.

King Faisal: This matter causes us much pain. We see some people in the United States who are against the President and you, contrary to the interests of the United States. We hope his friends in the United States will rally around the President.

Secretary Kissinger: That will happen, but with the embargo it becomes unnecessarily difficult.

King Faisal: Let us hope the difficulties will end soon.5

Secretary Kissinger: I have appreciated the opportunity to exchange views with Your Majesty.

King Faisal: Thank you very much. I wish you success.

Secretary Kissinger: We will continue our efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and our programs to strengthen the cooperative efforts between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

King Faisal: I appreciate your efforts and pray God for your success.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1028, Presidential/HAK Memcons, Memcons, 1 Mar–8 May 74. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The meeting took place in King Faisal’s Palace. All brackets, with the exception of those indicating omission of unrelated material, are in the original.
  2. See Document 331.
  3. Done in telegram 45027 to Jidda, March 6. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 631, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Vol. V)
  4. See Document 327.
  5. In an April 26 meeting Kissinger said that Saqqaf told him that “it was a good meeting, one of the best he’d seen. I said, ‘How do you know?’ He said, ‘Usually the King just stares at his lap; this time he was looking straight ahead.’ He said, ‘Usually the King sits there picking lint off his robe; this time he didn’t.’ Then Saqqaf told me it was clear the embargo would be lifted. I said, ‘How? Because the King said it wouldn’t.’ Saqqaf said, ‘The King was afraid you would leak it, so he told you the opposite.’” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 145, Geopolitical Files, Great Britain, Chron Files, Mar–Apr 74)
  6. In his report to Nixon on his meetings with Saqqaf, Fahd, and Faisal, Kissinger emphasized the Saudi “laudatory” attitude toward the U.S. peace efforts, how anxious the Saudis were to “extend and deepen” bilateral cooperation, and the planned upcoming visit of Fahd to the United States. Kissinger also noted that the Saudis expected the March 10 meeting of Oil Ministers to lift the embargo. (Memorandum from Scowcroft to Nixon, March 2; ibid., Box CL 207, Geopolitical Files, Saudi Arabia, 2 Mar–27 Apr 1974) Kissinger also discussed these meetings in his March 5 staff meeting. (National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Box 718, Secretary’s Staff Meetings 3/74)