Gerald Ford Administration: Conversations With Kissinger, Rabin, and Sadat on the Egyptian-Israeli Agreement
(September 1, 1975)
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Hello, Mr. President
THE PRESIDENT. Henry, how are you?
SECRETARY KISSINGER. I am fine. How nice to hear from you.
THE PRESIDENT. The same to you. I have just been warned by Ron [Nessen] that I have to tell you--and later when I talk to the Prime Minister and to the President--that WHCA [White House Communications Agency] is recording this conversation. You don't have any objections, I trust?
SECRETARY KISSINGER. No, I don't have any objection.
THE PRESIDENT. I think they wanted it for historical purposes.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Right.
THE PRESIDENT. Let me say very, very deeply how very grateful I am for the tremendous effort that you have made in this last round of negotiations, but I know how long and how hard and devotedly you have spent many, many hours, not only with me but with Prime Minister Rabin and President Sadat.
I think this is a great achievement, one of the most historic, certainly of this decade and perhaps in this century. And I know that the American people will be most grateful for the successful efforts that you made. I just want to express it very strongly and very deeply for myself.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. I appreciate this very much, Mr. President, and of course, we have spent more time on the Middle East--you and I--than on almost any other problem.
THE PRESIDENT. I think if we added up the hours, it would be a good many days, and the fact that we finally made a successful conclusion, I know, gives you as well as myself and many, many others a great deal of satisfaction. It is in the best interests of not only the two countries ourselves but, in my judgment, Henry, one of the great achievements for the world at this time.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. I think it gives peace a chance in this area, and the consequences, as the U.S. pointed out repeatedly, of stalemate were simply unacceptable.
THE PRESIDENT. I am sure there will be some critics, but I think in all honesty they have to understand what the alternatives would have been.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Exactly, Mr. President. That is the problem, that the continuation of the stalemate would have had both military and economic consequences for the world that we had to do something about.
THE PRESIDENT. You are leaving very shortly, as I understand, for the actual initialing.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. I am going to see Prime Minister Rabin now, and then we are going to initial the documents.
THE PRESIDENT. Right.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Then shortly after that, I will go to Egypt to meet with President Sadat and participate in the initialing of the documents there.
THE PRESIDENT. You will actually carry the documents with you to Alexandria, then?
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Exactly, the documents and maps.
THE PRESIDENT. I am going to call the Prime Minister after talking with you, and I will express to him my appreciation, but if you will do it in person for me, I would also be very grateful.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. I will do that, Mr. President, and I look forward very much to seeing you on Thursday.
THE PRESIDENT. You are getting in Wednesday night, as I understand?
SECRETARY KISSINGER. That is right. I am getting in Wednesday night about 9 or 10 o'clock.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will be at the airport to meet you.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT. And it is arranged for us to have a [Congressional] bipartisan leadership meeting on Thursday morning at 8 a.m.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Good.
THE PRESIDENT. And I am sure that their reaction will be the same as mine, that this is a great achievement for not only the parties involved but for the world as a whole, and I just can't express deeply enough my appreciation for your own magnificent efforts in this area.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Mr. President, we have worked together on this, and your strong support and your leadership and your talks with Sadat and Rabin made this possible.
THE PRESIDENT. You go over there and participate with the Prime Minister, give him my best, and at the same time give Nancy my very best.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. Thank you, and the best to Betty.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much, and we will see you Wednesday night.
SECRETARY KISSINGER. See you Wednesday night.
THE PRESIDENT. Okay. Thanks, Henry.
PRIME MINISTER ROBIN. Hello?
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Prime Minister, how are you, sir?
PRIME MINISTER RABIN. I am fine, Mr. President. How are you?
THE PRESIDENT. I am excellent, thank you. I just finished talking with Henry, and I understand he is coming over to meet with you very shortly for the actual initialing. Let me congratulate you for the superb efforts that you have made under most trying circumstances.
I think your role has been one of great statesmanship under terribly difficult circumstances, and I congratulate you and compliment you on the achievement of, I think, an outstanding negotiation that has culminated in a document that will lead to great progress in the Middle East for the benefit of the world as a whole.
PRIME MINISTER RABIN. Mr. President, thank you very much for your kind words. It was not an easy decision. They were complicated negotiations, but we have decided this time to take risks--and I stress "to take risks"--for an opening for peace.
I hope that what we have decided will set a new pattern in the area, and we all hope here that the agreement will really lead to both tranquillity in the area and to bring closer the positions of at least Egypt and Israel.
I would like to thank you very much for the role that you personally, the United States, and your envoy, Dr. Kissinger, have served in the achievement of this agreement.
THE PRESIDENT. I thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. Let me assure you that you can count on us to continue to stand with you. We have a close relationship, and it will continue as we move forward under the basis of this outstanding agreement.
You have laid a solid foundation with this agreement, in my judgment, on which we can build for real peace efforts in the future.
PRIME MINISTER RABIN. We all hope for it here, and we really hope that it will be the beginning of something which we have not yet experienced in this area, and we hope that the other side, the Egyptian side, feels the same.
THE PRESIDENT. You can rest assured that we will work with you to make certain that the agreement is carried out, not only in the spirit but in the letter, and that we expect to continue the relationship that we have had over a good many years, your country and ours.
You have heroic people, and the American people are most sympathetic to those that you so ably represent, Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER ROBIN. Mr. President, as you are fully aware, we appreciate very much you, we appreciate very much the special relations that have been so significant in the past and the present between our two countries, and I am sure that what we have done there today will add a new dimension to the relations between our two countries.
THE PRESIDENT. Will you give my very best to Mrs. Rabin, and I hope that in the near future you can come back and see us again, sir.
PRIME MINISTER RABIN. Thank you, very much, Mr. President, and please convey our best wishes to Mrs. Ford.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much, and we will see you, I hope, soon.
PRIME MINISTER RABIN. I hope so, too.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER RABIN. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
[In the following transcript of President Ford's telephone conversation with President Sadat, President Sadat' s remarks are incomplete because of a poor telephone connection' with Egypt.]
PRESIDENT FORD. President Sadat?
PRESIDENT SADAT. Hello. This is President Sadat.
PRESIDENT FORD. How are you this morning?
President Sadat, I wanted to call you and congratulate you on the great role that you played in the negotiations that have culminated in this agreement.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Hello? [Inaudible]
PRESIDENT FORD. Unfortunately, I don't hear you too well, Mr. President. I hope that my conversation is coming through more clearly.
Let me express most emphatically on behalf of my Government the appreciation for your statesmanship, despite adversity and some criticism, the spirit with which you have approached the need for an agreement.
I am most grateful for the leadership that you have given, and I look forward to continuing to work with you in--
PRESIDENT SADAT. Hello?
PRESIDENT FORD. Hello. Can you hear me, Mr. President?
PRESIDENT SADAT. No, I can't hear you very well.
PRESIDENT FORD. I know that you and I recognize that stagnation and stalemate in the Middle East would have been potentially disastrous, and your leadership in working with Secretary Kissinger and with the Israelis, all of us are most grateful for.
And as we continue to work together, personally, as well as government-to-government
PRESIDENT SADAT. Hello? President Ford is speaking?
PRESIDENT FORD. Yes. I can hear you, Mr. President. I hope you can hear me, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT SADAT. President Ford, hello.
PRESIDENT FORD. I don't hear too well, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT SADAT. President Ford speaking?
PRESIDENT FORD. Yes, this is President Ford.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Go ahead, please.
PRESIDENT FORD. The connection, unfortunately, is not too good for me to hear your comments, Mr. President.
Let me say, if I might, despite the difficulties, that Mrs. Ford and I hope that Mrs. Sadat and you and your children will visit the United States sometime this fall.
Secretary Kissinger has told me of the very warm hospitality that you have extended to him and Mrs. Kissinger, and we look forward to reciprocating when you come to the United States in the fall of 1975.
I regret that I can't hear. The connection is very bad. I hope that you can hear me and my comments from the United States.
Mr. President, I understand that Secretary Kissinger is coming to Alexandria to personally deliver the document for your initialing, and I have asked Henry to extend to you on that occasion the gratitude and appreciation of the American people for your patience, your leadership, and your understanding of the need and necessity for a forward step, and important step in the ultimate aim of total peace in the Middle East.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Hello?
PRESIDENT FORD. Hello, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Hello, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT FORD. I can hear you better now, sir.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Mr. President, I hope you and your family are well.
PRESIDENT FORD. I am feeling very well, Mr. President, and I hope you are, too.
PRESIDENT SADAT. I want to thank you for your personal message. [Inaudible]
PRESIDENT FORD. Mr. President, I couldn't hear every word distinctly, but I got the thrust of your kind comments and your encouraging words, and I can assure you that we will work with Egypt, not only in seeing that the agreement is implemented with the spirit as well as the letter, that we will continue to develop the good relations between Egypt and the United States, working to make sure that we expand trade, tourism, and our help to the maximum degree possible and that this is the way that the United States can continue to play a constructive role in the most important area--the Middle East.
And you have my personal assurance, and I am sure the Congress will cooperate, because it is recognized in the United States that the Middle East is in a vitally important area of the world and that our participation in a constructive way is an important element in the tremendous success that has been achieved in the negotiations between your country and Israel. I wish to thank you very, very much.
I said a few moments ago, Mrs. Ford and I look forward to having Mrs. Sadat, your family, and yourself here in the United States early this fall.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Mr. President, I am looking forward to this visit with you and Mrs. Ford and your family. [Inaudible] I also assure you we accept this agreement as a further step towards a successful and peaceful conclusion. I consider it a turning point in the history of the country.
I again thank you, but it is essential, Mr. President, that we must keep the momentum of the peace process going and continue it.
PRESIDENT FORD. I can assure you, Mr. President, we are going to keep the momentum going in the peace process. We will not tolerate stagnation or stalemate. The momentum is on the way for a peaceful solution on a permanent and an equitable basis, and you have my pledge that we will make sure that that momentum keeps going.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT FORD. I look forward to seeing you after that wonderful visit we had in Salzburg, and give my very best to Mrs. Sadat, if you will, please.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT FORD. Thank you, sir.
PRESIDENT SADAT. I should like to add another point, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT FORD. Yes.
PRESIDENT SADAT. I think I would like to emphasize the importance of [inaudible].
PRESIDENT FORD. I, unfortunately, could not hear as well as I would like the last comments you made. The connection from here is not, apparently, as good as I hope you have there, but--
PRESIDENT SADAT. I hear you quite well.
PRESIDENT FORD. The efforts of Secretary Kissinger and myself, we feel, were completely worth what we have done, but our efforts could not have been successful without the leadership and the statesmanship by you and the equally fine actions by the Israeli Government and Prime Minister Rabin.
But as you said a moment ago, President Sadat, the momentum is moving in the right direction, and you have my personal assurance that we will continue that movement, because it is vital not only in the Middle East but elsewhere for the benefit of all peoples.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Thank you, Mr. President, very much.
PRESIDENT FORD. We will see you soon, I hope.
PRESIDENT SADAT. We are looking forward to coming, with pleasure, and convey my good wishes to your family.
PRESIDENT FORD. Thank you, and the best to yours, sir.
PRESIDENT SADAT. Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT FORD. Have a good day, and Henry will be there shortly, I understand.
PRESIDENT SADAT. I am waiting for him.
Sources: Public Papers of the President