Monday, April 19, 1971 - 6:50pm - 6:56pm
Richard Nixon, William Rogers
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Hello?

Operator: [Unclear.]

William P. Rogers: Hello, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Well, welcome back.

Rogers: Thank you very much.

President Nixon: Well, how's your Spanish?1

Rogers: Oh, it worked out very well. [Laughs.]

President Nixon: Great.

Rogers: We had a pretty good meeting [unclear].

President Nixon: It is a nice little city, isn't it?

Rogers: Oh, it's lovely.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Rogers: And everything worked out very well. Say, the reason I'm troubling you now—

President Nixon: It's all right.

Rogers: As you know, or you may know, I'm going to have to go to the SEATO [Southeast Asia Treaty Organization] meeting in London and the CENTO [Central Treaty Organization] meeting in Ankara next week.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: I've been thinking for some time, and have been asked by Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, to visit their countries. I would like to, at least, have serious consideration given to it. I . . . so what I'm calling about is to see if you have any initial reaction that would be opposed to it. I would just go from Ankara to these places after that.

President Nixon: No.

Rogers: It'd be about another week. And I think that it has a certain—some certain—some risks.

President Nixon: Right.

Rogers: But I also think that it has some pretty good positive elements.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: Particularly because I've been invited—

President Nixon: You've been invited to Egypt too?

Rogers: Yes.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Rogers: And no secretary of state—

President Nixon: I see no problem.

Rogers: No secretary of state has been there since [John Foster] Dulles went.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: And it will get a lot of attention. It will take Vietnam off the front page for a while, I think.

President Nixon: Hell, yes.

Rogers: And a lot of—

President Nixon: Well, I think—well, it also will—even though the Mid East thing is tough for us—you know, we don't know what's going to happen—at least, it puts attention on that.

Rogers: That's right. That's right.

President Nixon: And frankly, Bill, nothing really can happen there. It just can't happen, that's all.

Rogers: No, and it isn't going to happen right now, I don't think.

President Nixon: No.

Rogers: And if it's going to happen, it's going to happen anyway. So I don't believe that I'll be blamed for it.

President Nixon: Right. Right.

Rogers: And I think I'll get a pretty good reception—well, I know I'll get a great reception in Israel, probably a pretty good reception in Egypt. Now, I may have some security problems in Jordan. I probably will go to Lebanon and maybe just a quick stop in Saudi Arabia. I will—that is not—

President Nixon: I'd do them. Personally, I think you should certainly do Saudi Arabia.

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: If there's any security problem, I don't think you ought to go. Egypt, they'll protect you.

Rogers: Yeah. The only security problem would be in Jordan, I think. But what the hell, that's part of the job.

President Nixon: Where would you go in Jordan? Just—

Rogers: Just Amman.

President Nixon: Amman. I've never been there.

Rogers: Just to see the king.

President Nixon: Well, go and get the tank. 2

Rogers: [Laughs.] Yeah.

President Nixon: He's got the tank. Yeah.

Rogers: Well, I—

President Nixon: No, I see—I feel—you've got to decide. If you think it's a good idea, you go.

Rogers: All right. I won't make a decision until we check it out pretty carefully. But, I didn't want to do it if you saw any disadvantage.

President Nixon: No. Not at all. I think it's a very good thing to, sort of, put the spotlight of attention out there and if something can come out of it, it'd be great.

Rogers: Well, we may, you know, something may come out of it.

President Nixon: Right. Right.

Rogers: You can't tell. And I'll downplay the importance of it in my backgrounders and so forth.

President Nixon: Say that it's a trip for the purpose of touching base in these areas.

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: And just talking with this matter over and so forth.

Rogers: In response to an invitation by all of them. See, it's the first time that a president of Egypt has asked a—

President Nixon: Have you ever been to Israel?

Rogers: No.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm. The food's lousy, but otherwise it's all right.

Rogers: I've got to go to a party that [AFL-CIO President] George Meany is having right now. Anything you want me to tell him? [Chuckles.]

President Nixon: Well, I met with the building trades leaders today.

Rogers: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Told them we were all for them, that it was going to be a big—I said, “I know you were displeased with Davis-Bacon,3 but now we've rescinded that, and it's going to be a big year, construction's going up, the market's going up, everything's going up. Things, you just, guys, you just got to be reasonable and you'll get a big piece of it.” So—

Rogers: OK.

President Nixon: And I also told them this. I said, “I know that some people said well, we shouldn't meet with you because you disagreed with what we did on this, but,” I said, “I will always be grateful that, when many other were deserting, that the building trades, the hard hats, [and] George Meany, you stood firmly with us on foreign policy, and for that reason, whatever you say on other things, you're always welcome here.”

Rogers: Yep.

President Nixon: And that made a great impression on them.

Rogers: That's good.

President Nixon: And George knows that, too, you know. I had him to breakfast even after he blasted us.

Rogers: Right. Right. You remember the meeting we had about improving our labor [unclear] and so forth?

President Nixon: I know. I got a memorandum on it from you. Yeah.

Rogers: Well, that's part of the reason we're getting rid of the old fellow we have here, and we're putting in a new man and I'm going to talk to George about the new man.

President Nixon: And tell him that he did it.

Rogers: Of course I will.

President Nixon: Right. Where is your meeting? You're going to the building trades meeting, then.

Rogers: Well, I'm just going to the beginning. Well, it's a meeting, really, no, it's a meeting for [International Labor adviser] George Delaney, the fellow that was here, but they'll have a lot of their labor people there.

President Nixon: Oh. Yeah.

Rogers: George Meany's having a big dinner for him.

President Nixon: Right. Right. Right.

Rogers: I'm just going for the cocktails and not—[laughs].

President Nixon: Right. Well, you know one thing that's amusing to me is that the way that China thing really got our liberal friends all up in a tizzy, isn't it, you know?

Rogers: [Unclear.]

President Nixon: It shows you how they react to anything.

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: It doesn't have to mean a thing.

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: They want peace.

Rogers: It does demonstrate what we talked about last time, how to get a lot of credit for very little. [Chuckles.]

President Nixon: That's right. OK. Well, good luck. Bye.

Rogers: Thank you. Bye.


1 Rogers had recently returned from a meeting of the Organization of American States in Costa Rica. (↑)

2 At Jordanian King Hussein's request, the Nixon administration had sent him modern tanks. (↑)

3 Nixon had suspended the Davis-Bacon Act for federal construction projects. The Act requires federal contractors to pay the “prevailing wage” in local labor markets, and Nixon's move was intended to curb “skyrocketing” construction wages and prices. (↑)

Original tape courtesy of the Nixon Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.