248. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

108592. Subject: Letter to Prince Saud. London for Under Secretary Newsom: Alert Tice at Hotel Europa; Jidda for Charge. Ref: Cairo 8604.

1. (C) Entire text

[Page 833]

2. Please deliver2 the following letter from the Secretary to Prince Saud at the earliest opportunity:

3. Begin text:

HRH Prince Saud bin Faisal al-Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Your Royal Highness:

I want to share with you my concern that the outcome of the Islamic Conference3 could affect Egypt’s international position in a way that would have negative consequences for each of our countries. The United States believes that Saudi Arabia and its moderate Gulf neighbors understand that the survival of a moderate government in Egypt is important for the geo-political interests of Saudi Arabia and its neighbors and that the current Arab campaign to punish Egypt is turning toward extremes which can only undermine the security of the region and the position of the moderates in it.

Expulsion of Egypt from Islamic or international groupings which are not exclusively Arab can only work against broader long-term interests of countries like Saudi Arabia, and we hope that Saudi Arabia will lead in resisting such efforts.

I bring this matter to your attention because of the critical nature of the present period for all of us and because of the leading role Saudi Arabia can play in support of Egypt’s rightful place in the Islamic Conference. A positive approach by Saudi Arabia on this matter would clearly benefit us all, while Egypt’s expulsion would further damage interests which each of us considers important.

Sincerely, Cyrus Vance. End text.

3. FYI: Under Secretary Newsom will be making same points to Crown Prince Fahd.4 End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790196–0134. Confidential; Niact Immediate; Exdis. Also sent Immediate to Jidda and Riyadh. Drafted by Roger B. Merrick (NEA/ARP); cleared by Crawford, Sterner, Saunders, and Richard Castrodale (S/S–O); approved by Vance. Sent for information Immediate to Cairo.
  2. The letter and a translation were sent to Saud on April 30. (Telegram 3390 from Jidda, April 30; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790196–1244)
  3. In the aftermath of the Baghdad Summit, the meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Foreign Ministers, scheduled to be held in Fez, Morocco, beginning May 8, was expected to consider Egypt’s future place in the group. On May 9, despite efforts led by Libya and Iraq to expel Egypt completely, the Organization voted to suspend Egypt’s membership, rendering it ineligible for all Organization activities as well as aid money from the group. (“Islamic Conference Suspends Egyptians,” The New York Times, May 10, 1979, p. A7)
  4. Newsom met with Fahd in Marbella, Spain, on April 30, to discuss the state of U.S.-Saudi relations. At the meeting, Fahd stated that Sadat “did not consult with the Saudis before his first trip to Jerusalem and that, because Sadat achieved so little, Saudi Arabia had difficulty in supporting Sadat or the peace process.” Newsom responded by urging Saudi support for Sadat “to the extent Baghdad makes possible” and “active Saudi opposition to the expulsion of Egypt from international bodies.” (Telegram 110491 to Jidda, May 2; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 116, 5/1–9/79) A full memorandum of conversation for this meeting is in the Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, NEA Front Office Subject File 1978–1984, Lot 85D251, Box 3, 1979 Memcons—UN Secretariat (P).