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Memo From Scowcroft to President Ford On Egypt Talks

(March 21, 1975)

Washington, March 21, 1975.1

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass on to you the following report on his meeting with Sadat.

“I have just completed a two hour conversation with Sadat at which I presented the latest Israeli ideas.2 As I expected, he was strongly insistent that he could not accept the line to be drawn through the middle of the passes and reiterated strongly that the Egyptian forward line must be at the western entrance of the passes while the Israeli line could be at the eastern entrance of the passes. In short, he insists on the principle that neither side will occupy the passes, but that rather they will be supervised by the UN force.

“As you know, with respect to the oil fields, the Israelis have indicated willingness to provide for an enclave in which presumably there would be some cooperative agreement worked out between Egypt and Israel. Under the Israeli proposal, the oil fields would be totally undefended and be surrounded by Israeli forces. Sadat’s counter proposal as conveyed to us this evening would establish a broad United Nations zone in the area of the oil fields in which neither side would maintain armed forces and in which there would only be civilian and ordinary police under Egyptian administration. Moreover, the Egyptians will insist on an increase of the number of forces from the present 7,000 east of the canal, whereas the Israelis will want to maintain this limit.

“These are the key issues in the military aspect of the agreement and I remain very doubtful that these differences can be bridged. I have agreed at Sadat’s urging to make a further substantial effort with the Israelis, while reiterating my judgment to him that it is unlikely that the Israelis will agree to the latest proposal on the military aspect of the problem. In this connection, I noted that Gamasy was very happy with Sadat when the latter suggested a UN zone around the oil fields, rather than drawing the line so that there would be Egyptian forces there.

“Another important concession which Sadat made this evening is that he is willing to give me an oral assurance which I may transmit to the Israelis that in the event Syria attacks Israel, and this is confirmed by the UN observers, he would not attack Israel.

“I have sent word to Rabin that I will wish to meet with the negotiating team in the early afternoon on Friday3 and that I have agreed to stay through next Sunday in order to give him the opportunity to call another Cabinet meeting on the latest Egyptian ideas.

“The basic problem remains that Israel is dealing with this issue largely as a matter of domestic politics. They have nailed themselves to propositions they could not fulfill and are jeopardizing our entire position in the Middle East in the pursuit of entirely marginal points.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East, Box 4, March 7–March 22, 1975, Volume II (7), Kissinger’s Trip. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information.
  2. A memorandum of conversation of the meeting between Sadat and Kissinger, which took place on March 20 in Aswan, is ibid. According to the annotated chronology of the March meetings, the meeting took place from 10 p.m. to midnight. (Ibid., Box 3, March 7–22, 1975, Volume 1.1 (1), Kissinger’s Trip)
  3. March 21.