12. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Saunders) to Secretary of State Vance1

Response from the President to the Sultan of Oman

The Sultan of Oman wrote to President Carter January 32 expressing his concern at what he considers to be the deteriorating security situation in the Persian Gulf and neighboring areas, and proposing closer consultations between the Omani and U.S. Governments. Attached is a draft reply, for the President’s approval, under cover of a Tarnoff-Brzezinski memorandum.3

[Page 31]

You met with the Omani Ambassador to the United States on January 54 during which meeting he gave you a letter from the Sultan of Oman to the President. At the same time the Omani Ambassador stated that the Sultan would like to send a team to Washington to discuss the regional security situation with senior USG officials.

On January 8 our Ambassador to Oman met, under instructions, with the Omani Foreign Minister of State regarding some of the questions which have arisen about Omani arms requests of the United States Government.5 Minister Zawawi stated that his government would present an aide memoire on arms needs to the Ambassador at the end of this month or in early February.

In the same conversation, Minister Zawawi noted that he had recently been sent to Amman to discuss the status of the Middle East peace negotiations with King Hussain. He anticipated being sent to Cairo and Rabat in the near future for the same purpose. He then offered to proceed to Washington to brief appropriate USG officials on the substance of these talks.

As you know, the Omani Sultan is one of the very few Arab leaders who have been supportive of the Camp David agreements and who have publicly dissented from the Baghdad Summit decisions regarding Camp David in general and the role of President Sadat in particular.6 We would anticipate that if Minister Zawawi were to come to Washington, he would wish to discuss both the Middle East peace process and the Persian Gulf security situation.

In the attached Presidential reply to the Sultan, we mention your invitation to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs as another sign of our determination to keep the dialogue with Oman active.


That you authorize the despatch of the attached telegram to Embassy Muscat which instructs Ambassador Wiley to invite the Omani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs to Washington.7

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And that you approve the proposed Presidential reply to Sultan Qaboos.8

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P890025–2682. Confidential. Drafted by A. Peter Burleigh and David Winn (NEA/ARP). Sent through Newsom, who initialed the memorandum. Tarnoff initialed the memorandum in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. The letter is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 73, Oman: 1–4/79.
  3. Not attached and not found.
  4. The memorandum of conversation is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P790013–1325.
  5. A partial record of Wiley’s January 8 meeting with Zawawi is in telegram 31 from Muscat, January 9. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number])
  6. During the November 2–5, 1978, Arab League Summit at Baghdad, the assembled leaders of 20 Arab States and the Palestine Liberation Organization voted to reject the Camp David Accords signed in September.
  7. Attached but not printed. A handwritten note on the draft telegram indicates that it was sent as telegram 1849 to Muscat, January 16.
  8. An unknown hand approved the recommendation. A stamped notation indicates that it was approved on January 16. See Document 13.