19. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Interdepartmental Working Group (Sisco) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Initial Study Report on Joint U.S.-Saudi Cooperation (NSSM 198)

I attach an initial study report on the development of new programs of cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as called for by NSSM 198. This report represents the views and recommendations of the Interdepartmental Working Group which I chair. It defines our broad interest and objectives, identifies issues in the economic, technological and security fields, and lays out a strategy for engaging the Saudis on them.

While we foresee numerous subjects of interest to both sides that can provide considerable substance to our cooperation, we should approach the Saudis with an open mind in developing our new relationship. We will have to avoid giving the impression that we have our own firm blueprint, and make it clear we want to listen to them on things they consider important.

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Our report proposes the formation of two joint commissions: one on Economic Cooperation (chaired on our side by the Secretary of the Treasury) and one on Security Cooperation (under the Deputy Secretary of Defense). They would operate subject to my day-to-day political guidance and coordination, under your direction. (We suggested previously to the Saudis that there could also be a Joint Commission on Science and Technology, but it appears to us now that the work of such a Commission would be quite thin and that it would be better to fold it into the Economic Commission.) Working Groups would deal with the substantive issues between sessions of each Commission.

We are well launched with the Saudis. We now have the basis for your discussions when you visit Riyadh later this month, at which time the agenda for Prince Fahd’s visit to Washington in May might be fixed. Out of Fahd’s visit should come a more detailed understanding of how we will proceed, leading possibly to an early visit to Saudi Arabia by a United States team and the first meeting of each of the Joint Commissions shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, U.S. staff work is under way to prepare for initial working discussions with the Saudis in both the economic and security fields.

Joseph J. Sisco
  1. Summary: Sisco forwarded to Kissinger the study report for NSSM 198, proposing the establishment of the U.S.-Saudi Joint Commissions.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P820050–0479. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. Drafted by Sober on April 10. A typed notation at the top of the memorandum reads: “OBE Per NSC: HSaunders 6/8/74”. The attached report on NSSM 198 is not published, as it was OBE by June. Kissinger instructed Akins to proceed rapidly on the Joint Commissions in March. See Documents 104 and 106. No further action was taken on NSSM 198.