92. Telegram From the Embassy in Saudi Arabia to the Department of State1
7455. To INR McAfee only: please handcarry to NEA/Crawford for transmittal Eyes Only to Brzezinski for President from Saunders. Subject: Talk With King Hussein.
1. During discussion with me Oct 17, King Hussein made following intensely personal observations with deep emotion on King’s previous personal involvement in peace process that I believe you would want to have reported to you. These comments shed light on background to his current reactions to Camp David Accords.
2. At end of our lengthy conversation, during which his initial considerable reserve gradually dissipated, King said he wished to share some sensitive and intimate details with me to help in our understanding of his reserve with regard to Camp David Agreements. King then alluded to his extensive secret contacts with Israeli leaders in recent years and mentioned that the former Israeli Prime Minister (Rabin) had told him (probably in 1977) that Israel’s objective was separately to take Egypt out of the MidEast negotiating process by making a separate peace regarding the Sinai. Israel would then deal with the West Bank issue by making arrangements with the West Bank inhabitants, which King implied were much along lines of administrative autonomy suggested by Begin plan.2 King said this strategy had been reaffirmed to him by Israeli Foreign Minister (Dayan) last year. King suggested that [Page 326]the coincidence of these Israeli statements with some of the at least superficial aspects of the Camp David Accords were an element contributing to reserve with which he has been treating Camp David.
3. King said he hopes we appreciate his efforts over past 11 years during which he undertook extensive clandestine contacts with Israelis, involving considerable risks, during which he tried his best to move towards peace. He said that in a sense his previous wife (Queen Alya) met her death (in night helicopter crash) as a result of this effort because it was necessary to do extensive night flying in royal helicopter to provide a cover for the use of helicopter for night meetings with Israelis. King added that he personally would be ready to meet his death “this minute” if that would help to bring a sound lasting peace to the area and that “nothing is too great” for him to undertake to advance that goal.
4. King said he deeply appreciates all you have done and are doing for peace in MidEast and wishes to convey his gratitude and respect to you, and his hopes to continue our dialogue. King mentioned your handwritten letter3 to him in which you referred to your awareness of risks to his position but to greater risk of not taking steps to continue momentum of peace process.
5. King said that he will need a little time to look closely at the evolving situation and to consult and discuss Jordan’s possible role within Jordan and with Arab moderates. He said that “before he takes the plunge he would like to know where the shore line is since Jordan is not a good swimmer”, unlike Egypt, which is more isolated from heartland of Arab world, any miscalculation could involve Jordan in fighting on several fronts. As a result Jordan must work on the Arabs for some support. In this respect, he noted particularly that Saudis with their fixation with PLO were not rpt. not giving him support he would need to enter negotiations. I will be following this up in Saudi Arabia.4
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Presidential Advisory Board, Box 72, Middle East: Box 5. Secret; Roger Channel; Sandstone; Niact Immediate. In the right-hand margin of the telegram, Carter initialed “C,” indicating that he saw the document.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 5.↩
- See Document 61.↩
- Saunders met with Fahd on October 18. They discussed the U.S. answer to Hussein’s questions. The Embassy transmitted a summary of the meeting in telegram 7469 from Jidda, October 19. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850036–2409) In addition, Saunders held a meeting with Kamel, Adham, and Turki on October 18 and a final meeting with Saud, Turki, Adham, and others on October 19. Saunders dispatched a report of all his meetings with Saudi officials in telegram 7470 from Jidda, October 19. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850036–2413)↩