336. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and President Nixon1

N: Hi, Henry.

K: Mr. President, I just wanted to bring you briefly up to date where we stand, on that oil embargo, because there have been so many stories around; most newspapers say this means the end of it.2 This is not true. We have now heard not only from the Egyptians, but also from the Algerians. I have had a message from Boumedienne which says he will definitely support lifting the embargo.3 And with that in the fold, I think it is going to work.

N: Yeh, I understand. Well the newspaper stories, they don’t know what the hell is going on.4

K: They don’t know what is going on, but on television and so forth, they keep saying this is an indefinite postponement. For once now I believe it is going to work.

N: Yeh. What is the date set for—

K: Wednesday5—in Tripoli, Mr. President

N: What does that mean indefinite. Why would they interpret it to mean indefinite?

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K: Well they figure there will be another delay or no agreement.

N: That is the way they were going to have it too. But anyway what we can say about it are the results, but—

K: At any rate, I thought you might like to—

N: Having heard from both the Egyptians and Algerians—but at least the Egyptians said they were going to have the meeting for that purpose didn’t they?

K: That’s right, but for this purpose, Mr. President the Algerians are worth more to us than the Egyptians—because the Algerian oil minister is the head of that group, and secondly, the Algerians are known to be close to the Syrians and thirdly, they are radicals.

N: Of course. And they have indicated they are going to move to support it, are they?

K: That is right. We got a message this morning. That is what I thought you might like to know.

N: That they would support the lifting?

K: That is right.

N: The Algerian Foreign Minister, hm huh. Well we will wait until tomorrow. Okay. Nothing else to do.

K: No.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

[N:] Well we will keep our fingers crossed—the embargo—I think maybe it is going to come off this time.

K: This is the closest we have come to anyway—

N: We have information that maybe the tv people don’t have for once, okay?

K: Right, Mr. President. I’m impounding all these cables.

N: Sure, sure. Good idea, good idea.

K: Good.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 25, Chronological Files. Unclassified.
  2. Presumably a reference to the Oil Ministers’ meeting scheduled for March 11 in Cairo, which the media assumed would end the embargo.
  3. According to telegram 1155 from Cairo, March 9, Fahmy had been “actively engaged” in getting the Oil Ministers conference held in Cairo and not Tripoli. Fahmy also suggested that Kissinger write to Boumedienne. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 128, Geopolitical Files, Egypt, Chron Files, 1–10 Mar 1974) Kissinger subsequently wrote Boumedienne that having the Oil Ministers meet in Cairo would strengthen Nixon and reflect the “major effort” the United States had put into a Middle East settlement. (Telegram 48020 to Algiers, March 9; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 735, Country Files, Africa, Algeria) Boumedienne responded that Algeria’s position was “that oil boycott had served its purpose but had become counterproductive and should be lifted.” (Telegram 524 from Algiers, March 10; ibid.) Colby informed Kissinger on March 11 that Sadat was pushing hard during the March 11 meeting of the Arab Oil Ministers in Cairo. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 128, Geopolitical Files, Egypt, Chron Files, 11–16 Mar 1974)
  4. Telegram 1137 from Jidda, March 9, reported that Yamani had reaffirmed on March 8 that the embargo would be lifted during the March 10 meeting in Cairo and that Saudi Arabia would force oil prices down if necessary. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files) The Wall Street Journal reported on March 11 that his remarks lifted the Dow Jones average by 20 points.
  5. March 13.