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

K: Mr. President.

N: Hello, Henry.

K: We finally got the official text.2 What happened is basically it is lifted unconditionally by the majority. With the proviso that they would discuss it again on June 1. Which doesn’t mean it goes back on June 1, it just means they will discuss it again on June 1.

N: Right.

K: The Algerians may say they agree to lift it only until June 1, so they make it conditional.

N: We don’t care, we don’t get any from them anyway.

K: That’s right. I got a message from Sadat and he said he will help me get the thing concluded by the end of April,3 which is also my plan. The Syrian disengagement, so then there won’t be any problem, anyway.

N: Well, of course, there must follow not only the disengagement, as you know, but…

K: Mr. President, with all respect, we don’t have to linger to any permanent settlement at this point. The major thing we need now is the disengagement. If we talk too much about permanent settlement, when I was there the last time I talked to Sadat, he isn’t ready to discuss that. That will get us back into Geneva. We should be very careful in making promises on that.

N: This is one thing we’re going to do though, Henry. Let’s understand that. There is going to be a permanent settlement.

K: Of course, Mr. President. If we get into a forum where all of these issues get discussed together, we’ll get killed.

N: I agree, but we don’t want to leave any illusions here with our friends here that this is it, you know, and the Israelis think that they can just dig in and this is it.

[Page 947]

K: No, no…

N: Because then this same thing will come up to haunt us next Fall.

K: No, the strategy that I see now, but which we shouldn’t announce publicly, is that after the Syrian disengagement we should get a settlement between Egypt and Israel and then we’ve broken the back of it. Then we can work on…

N: I agree. Palestine and Jerusalem last.

K: It’s one step at a time. That’s our advantage over the Russians.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

K: Yes. Because you’d get a tremendous reception. He could smooth the way for you and go to Morocco last. That way you’ll have two tremendous receptions. You could go to Morocco first.

N: Morocco will be good. It should be Egypt first, they’re the hard one.

K: If you go to Egypt first, you’ll get a tremendous reception. You’ll get a good one in Sudan and Saudi Arabia. You’ll get a great one in Amman. What you get in Damascus, only the devil knows.

N: That’s right.

K: Then Israel you’ll get a good reception.

N: Maybe.

K: No, you’ll get an excellent reception.

N: The point that I make is that—I might be asked about that—I doubt it, but if I am, I’ll say we have a number of invitations we have under consideration.4

K: And now that the embargo lifted, we can explore them more fully.

N: We’re looking at them, right. On the European thing, you want to stay about where we are.

K: Mr. President, it is going so well, the French Ambassador today made a public statement praising you, but you should stay tough. We’ve put the steam in the kettle and we’re going to get everything. I think you should say you’ve made your comments. The Atlantic relationship is of course, the corner stone and now it is up to the Europeans. We have for a year expressed our views and when the Europeans have reacted, we will meet them more than halfway. If they ask you about a trip to Europe I think you should say let’s wait how the discussions go. They will be on their knees begging you to come before too much time is over and when you come now you’ll come as the strong man.

N: What I was going to ask though was on the trip to Europe, we put in terms that having laid down what we did, can we say the matters are now under discussion.

[Page 948]

K: On the trip to Europe…

N: No, no, not the trip. The matters of issue.

K: The issues are now being under discussion.

N: The matters are now under discussions, we hope to work them out.

K: It’s up to the Europeans and we will certainly be conciliatory in working them out, or something like that. I would not let them off and say they have already met our demands.

N: They haven’t, no.

K: But this is turning into a smash. The French Ambassador today held a public press conference in which he said there are no serious differences with the United States. France respects the U.S. as a great ally. Things we’ve been begging them to do for a year.

N: OK, Henry, thank you.

K: Right, Mr. President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 25, Chronological Files. Unclassified.
  2. The official OAPEC communiqué stated that, following “a series of meetings” between March 13 and 18, and because of continued U.S. efforts toward peace in the Middle East, the decision had been made to lift the embargo. (Telegram 2404 from Vienna, March 18; ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  3. Relayed in telegram 1371 from Cairo, March 18. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 128, Geopolitical Files, Egypt, Chron Files, 17–31 Mar 1974)
  4. See footnote 2, Document 342.