200. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

In a brief telephone conversation with Buddy on February 4 at 12:02 p.m., President Johnson reported that Herter (with whom he had talked by phone just before calling Buddy) said there was a draft reply to the British Prime Minister. Buddy replied affirmatively and said he had a copy. Buddy added that Herter sent it to the President for political cover, but this was a rare instance where State, Agriculture, and STR were all in agreement. Buddy opined it was straightforward, that the President did not need to read it, and offered to approve it on the President’s behalf. President Johnson concurred. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation, Tape 6402.04, PNO 4)

4809. Ambassador should deliver soonest following message from President to PM re UK grains proposal:

“Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

“Thank you for your letter of January 28, 1964,2 concerning the desire of your Government to obtain the cooperation of your major overseas [Page 558] cereals suppliers in the establishment of minimum import prices. As you are aware, we on our side have been particularly concerned about the implications that such an arrangement would have for the Kennedy Round negotiations and, particularly, the work of the GATT Cereals Group. Both sides are in agreement that the arrangement should in no way interfere with these efforts but indeed should be designed to enhance the possibilities for the successful negotiation of a world cereals arrangement. In this connection, we attach particular importance to the access assurance provided overseas suppliers and to the commitments regarding remedial action in the event imports are not maintained.

“I therefore welcome the following clear-cut statements on these points which appear in your letter:

‘We are also willing to commit ourselves to the objective of maintaining a fair and reasonable balance between home production and imports and that imports, as well as home production, will enjoy a share in the growth of the market. We are furthermore ready to keep the arrangements under review to see that the stated objectives are being achieved. And we will commit ourselves to taking corrective action should it prove in the event that the recent level of cereal imports is not being maintained …’”

“As you indicate, it was not possible to reach complete agreement at the meetings in London on a draft note of the understanding. The suggestions contained in your letter have been very helpful, however, in facilitating agreement. I now understand that after further exchanges between the representatives of our two Governments3 agreement has been reached on certain changes in the text of your Government’s note which was given to the United States delegation at the conclusion of the meeting in London on January 25, 1964. Accordingly, on the basis of these changes, which are being transmitted separately to the appropriate officials of your Government,4 the United States Government hereby gives its agreement in principle to the understanding which you have proposed.

“Final signature of the understanding will not, of course, take place until after the results of your annual agricultural review are available for our consideration, and until the annexes dealing with the schedule of minimum import prices and flour arrangements have been approved. I would not anticipate the results of the annual review would present an obstacle to our formal adherence to an agreement as long as they are consistent [Page 559] with the final proposals put forth by your people at the meeting in London.

“I am looking forward very much to the pleasure of your visit in February.

“Sincerely yours,”

We are not giving any publicity to Home-Johnson exchange and assume HMG also keeping messages confidential. Request UK to consult with us prior to any public statement.

For time being, response to any press inquiries should be no comment.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, INCO–GRAINS 17 UK. Limited Official Use; Priority. Drafted by Joseph A. Greenwald (E/OT) on February 4; cleared by William M. Roth (STR), Jack M. Fleischer (E), and Frank M. Tucker (EUR); and approved by Greenwald. Repeated to Canberra, Ottawa, and Buenos Aires.
  2. In this long letter to President Johnson, part of which is quoted in this telegram, Prime Minister Home concluded that a cereals agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States and other overseas suppliers “must be conditional on our being able to introduce changes in our own cereals guarantee arrangements of the same order as was suggested by our [negotiating] officials, that is to say, standard quantity arrangements centering on 9.75 million tons,” and he could go no further “since it will be difficult enough for us to push what we have proposed, or its equivalent, through in the discussions we shall have next month with the farmers.” (Ibid., National Security File, Head of State Correspondence File, U.K., Vol. 1 [2 of 2], PM Home Correspondence, 12/20/63–8/5/64, Box 8)
  3. A U.S. note to be presented to the British Government was transmitted in telegram 4590 to London, January 29 (Department of State, Central Files, INCO–GRAINS 17 UK) and a note from the British Embassy to the Department of State, January 31. (Ibid., INCO–GRAINS UK)
  4. Sent in telegram 4813 to London, February 4. (Ibid., INCO–GRAINS 17 UK)