7. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1
Secretary Kissinger asked that you be provided with the following report of his meeting with Algerian President Boumediene:
“I had a three-hour talk with President Boumediene in Algiers, on the evening of Monday, October 14.
“Algeria is not directly concerned with the territorial issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict, but, from its history as a revolutionary Arab nationalist regime, feels deeply about the principle of justice for the Arab and particularly the Palestinian cause. Algeria has great prestige in the Arab world, if not decisive influence, and therefore it was valuable to ensure that Boumediene had a thorough and sympathetic understanding of what we are attempting to do. Boumediene is highly intelligent and sophisticated. He warmly recalled meeting you, and expressed interest in meeting you again at some future time. He said he would be pleased if his Foreign Minister, Bouteflika, could meet with you in Washington sometime in the first half of December.
“I reassured him of your determination to continue the American effort to produce progress. We discussed the domestic situation here and in Israel, and the particular tactical considerations we had to face before our Congressional elections. I told him I was confident that we would overcome the domestic obstacles, as we had done so far. There were uncertainties, but the process was not reversible. He wished there were greater clarity about the final objective, but he did not basically object to the step-by-step approach. He assured me that most of the Arabs trusted us, perhaps even more than they trusted their own allies.
“Boumediene showed complete understanding of our negative vote in the UN on the PLO. The results came in while we were talking. He understood that our negative vote was essential domestically to preserve our ability to continue on course. It would make my mission easier, he commented.[Page 10]
“I asked for his analysis of King Hussein’s position. His view, rather disturbingly, was that King Hussein had no role to play any longer and that it was simply a matter of form how to return the West Bank to the PLO. He thought that making King Hussein the negotiator with Israel only complicated matters. It would weaken the moderate leadership of the PLO, which he thought was ultimately prepared to coexist with Israel. He thought we should deal directly with the PLO. I informed him that the U.S. would begin communicating with the PLO on a political level in late November. He was very pleased with this.
“We discussed energy prices, in which Boumediene shared surprising sympathy. Though he mentioned his position, he praised support for our objective of not having prices raised. He even asked what I had in mind for a strategy to get prices lowered and implied that a political price cut could even be discussed.
“Boumediene talked enthusiastically about bilateral U.S.-Algerian relations. He agreed on restoring diplomatic relations and asked only that we delay a few weeks until after the Arab summit. We set the date of November 12 for the joint announcement of resumption. He then waxed eloquent about the huge joint economic projects that he wanted to launch with the U.S.—billion dollar truck factories, engine factories, iron and steel complexes, as well as oil and gas. I told him I would send my new Under Secretary for Economic Affairs to Algiers in the next two to three weeks; Boumediene said he would receive him personally.
“At the end of the meeting, I conferred privately with him. He offered to transmit messages privately from us to his two revolutionary friends, Prince Sihanouk and Fidel Castro. I told him he could convey to both, in general terms, our willingness to deal with them if they were willing to act as genuinely independent and nonaligned, and not in the pocket of the Communists.
“My talk with Boumediene was warm and open. He encouraged me to speak to the press in positive terms about our relations on my departure. It is most encouraging to me that he showed understanding of our Middle East strategy. At the forthcoming Arab summit in Rabat, Algeria may perhaps use its influence in the direction of moderation.
“Today, I will stop in Rabat for a brief talk with King Hassan on my way back to Washington.”
Summary: Kissinger summarized his October 14 discussion with Boumediene in Algiers, which included Boumediene’s desire to restore diplomatic relations, and the decision to make a joint announcement on November 12.
Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books for HAK, Box 1, Middle East HAK Messages to President, October 8–13, 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Kissinger was in Algiers to review the Middle East peace process with Boumediene. In telegram 248884 to Amman, repeated to Beirut, Bern, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, London, Rabat, Rome, Tel Aviv, Tunis, Madrid, Algiers, the mission to the UN, and Paris on November 12, the Department informed addressees of the resumption of diplomatic relations with Algeria. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 101, Geopolitical File, Algeria, November 1974–March 1975)↩