184. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President’s Meeting with Crown Prince Fahd


  • Saudi Arabia
  • Crown Prince Fahd
  • Prince Abdullah
  • Prince Sultan
  • Foreign Minister Saud
  • Dr. Rashad Pharaon
  • Ambassador Alireza
  • United States
  • The President
  • Secretary of State Vance
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador John West
  • Hamilton Jordan, White House
  • Assistant Secretary of State Atherton
  • Anthony Lake, Department of State
  • Gary Sick, NSC Staff (notetaker)
  • Isa Sabbagh (interpreter)

(The President met privately with Crown Prince Fahd from shortly after 9:00 o’clock until this meeting began.2 Prince Saud, the Foreign Minister, arrived for the expanded meeting at 10:05 p.m., and while waiting for the arrival of the President and Crown Prince Fahd, briefly discussed with Secretary Vance some of the difficulties which Saudi Arabia had with the draft of principles which Secretary Vance had provided him earlier in the day.3 He noted particularly that no provision had been made to take care of the Palestinians outside the area of the West Bank and Gaza, and that the principles did not specify the timing of the transition period and other developments. Secretary Vance noted that he had not wanted to make the statement too specific, but rather wanted to establish certain basic general principles which could be used as a foundation for discussion.)

The President stated that the Crown Prince and himself had had a good discussion over a wide range of issues. They had talked about [Page 915] bolstering the value of the dollar. They had had a good discussion on the Horn of Africa dispute, and Crown Prince Fahd had outlined a very good next step to be taken. On the Middle East, they had discussed the need to give support to President Sadat in his efforts. The President had told Crown Prince Fahd about the need for President Siad Barre of Somalia to get out of the posture of invader, perhaps even take his problem to the United Nations. Crown Prince Fahd had said that he would propose this to Siad Barre. The President stated that he had no objection to meeting with Siad Barre in Washington.

The President had told Fahd about the assurance which Gromyko had given to the United States that Ethiopia would not cross the border into Somalia, and on that basis we could perhaps go ahead and seek peace. But we need to get Siad Barre out of his current posture of appearing to be the aggressor.

With regard to the Palestinians, the Crown Prince had told the President that if and when a plebiscite is held in the West Bank, 80 percent of the Palestinians would support formal affiliation with Jordan; but the plebiscite must be held without outside influence.

The President noted that he now hoped to go upstairs in order to prepare for a very busy day tomorrow which would include not only the Aswan meeting, but also a formal address in Paris.4 He did note, though, that the Crown Prince had also pointed out that it was important that King Hussein not get in a public posture of calling for the West Bank to go in with Jordan. Secretary Vance said that that is what King Hussein had said: that the basic principles should be established without him, then he could come in and join the negotiating process.

The President stated that they had had a very good discussion and he hoped that he could be excused to get ready for the next day.

The Crown Prince asked what would happen if we did not come to an agreement on the basic principles. The President said in that case we could identify optional language. Prince Fahd said that was all right with him, but he wanted to raise one point. That is, that the Palestinian people should be given their free chance to say where they want to go. However, the outcome would be as he had told the President. The President said he understood that point, but if it was in fact left open to the possibility of a fully independent state, Israel would never accept it. The Crown Prince said the whole thing rests on Israel’s readiness to have peace and security. If they will not accept that, one must wonder whether they in fact are interested in having peace.

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The President said that a plebiscite such as we had proposed still leaves adequate room for resolution of differences. For example, if the choice in the plebiscite is between a fully demilitarized entity under the United Nations or, alternatively, an affiliation with Jordan, that is a reasonable choice.

Prince Fahd agreed that they would then be free to choose. He stated that he wanted the President to get his rest. He said that at this point “We will leave it to our Foreign Minister colleagues to fight it out over the paper.”

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East File, Subject File, Box 1, Arab-Israeli Peace Negotiations 1978: Volume I [I]. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the Royal Guest Palace.
  2. No memorandum of conversation has been found.
  3. The draft of principles is not attached and has not been found.
  4. Carter spoke at the Palais des Congres in Paris on January 4. The text of his remarks is in Public Papers: Carter, 1978, Book I, pp. 21–27.