342. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1

    • Arab Lifting of the Oil Embargo

The Arab oil ministers yesterday announced their decision to lift their oil embargo against the US, saying that this decision would be reviewed at their June 1 meeting. Algeria explicitly made the lifting “provisional” until June 1, and neither Syria nor Libya associated itself with the official announcement.

A draft statement on this development is attached.2

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It is important in our public reaction that we not encourage any Arab government to think that the embargo can be successfully used to speed up the pace of our diplomacy. The impression we want to create is that our diplomacy will continue at a measured pace—not that we will accelerate our effort now that the embargo is lifted. The fact is that an oil embargo cannot speed up the preparatory work that needs to be done or the decisions for each agreement. These have a pace of their own, and we do not want anyone to think that we have control over them.

There is one other aspect of the announcement from Vienna that warrants special mention because you may get a question on it. There is a statement that the decision to lift the embargo is subject to review at an oil ministers’ meeting June 1, and the Algerians have made their decision “provisional.” This implies—but on the insistence of our friends avoids stating—that the embargo might be reimposed then if there is inadequate progress on disengagement. It is important that we not make an issue of this because our friends accepted it as a facesaving device for the hardliners and have promised to work to ignore or kill the idea. If we dignify it by comment, it will be harder for them. If you get a question, I suggest you say simply: “We understand that the embargo has been lifted without condition. This improves the atmosphere of our relations with the Arab nations, and we will act in that spirit.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 320, Subject Files, Energy Crisis, Part 3. Confidential; Outside System. Sent for information. The original is an uninitialed copy, but a note indicates that the President saw it. Saunders drafted the memorandum. (Ibid., Box 1230, Saunders Files, Chronological Files, 3/11–3/20/1974)
  2. Not attached and not found. Nixon announced the end of the embargo during a question and answer session before the convention of the National Association of Broadcasters at Houston, Texas, March 19. His remarks dealing with the embargo and the Middle East are in the Department of State Bulletin, April 8, pp. 367–370.