57. Memorandum of Conversation1

Meeting between Vice President Humphrey and Charles Lucet, French Ambassador, March 31, 1966. Also present: Jacque LePrette, Minister Counselor, French Embassy; John Rielly, Assistant to the Vice President; Ted Van Dyk, Assistant to the Vice President.

The Ambassador said that he would be going to Paris on Monday and would be seeing President DeGaulle at that time. The Vice President asked the Ambassador to convey his good wishes to President DeGaulle. The Vice President made reference to his frank and friendly discussion with the French President last June in Paris2 and said that he had reported fully to President Johnson on that discussion. The Vice President expressed hope that Presidents Johnson and DeGaulle might at some future time be able to meet again directly.

The Ambassador then, on his initiative, went directly to President deGaulle’s visit to the Soviet Union.3 The Ambassador said that France expected no great result from President DeGaulle’s visit. He said: “We see no need for a French-Russian alliance or some kind of pact.”

The Vice President said that such discussions were important. He said that the United States government, for its part, had no feeling of concern that such French-Russian contact should not be made. The Vice President then alluded to previous meetings he had held with Khrushchev and Kosygin, making the point that discussion was always useful.

Ambassador Lucet said that the French impression of the present Communist Party Congress4 was that the Soviet Union was deeply concerned with domestic matters. The French saw mildness in Brezhnev’s opening statement to the Congress.

The Ambassador then said that “President DeGaulle will speak to the Soviets regarding German reunification. We believe there can be no real peace in Europe with a divided Germany.”

Ambassador Lucet indicated that he felt the road to reunification was a long one, but that the subject definitely needed opening.

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The Vice President said that European initiatives in this regard were helpful. Certainly, he said, difficult territorial problems could not be solved easily. He agreed with the Ambassador that a divided Germany was a threat to peace. He had, he said, talked to Khrushchev regarding this during his visit to the Soviet Union, but the Chairman had refused to even discuss the subject.

An “environment” must be constructed, the Vice President said, in which discussion was possible, in which positive forces could be set in motion.

Ambassador Lucet said that, in France’s opinion, Poland and Czechoslovakia were highly important factors in any discussion of German reunification. He repeated this twice.

The Vice President recalled that, during a visit to Germany in 1961, he had made barest mention of the Oder-Neisse question5 and public opinion in Germany had been deeply stirred. He indicated that any American discussion of the Oder-Neisse would likely be misinterpreted in Germany, but that “Europeans can talk about borders more easily than we.”

The Vice President observed, as Chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, that he was greatly impressed with French efforts thus far in space. He was particularly pleased with France’s role in ESRO. The United States, he said, was particularly interested in ESRO as a multilateral organization which could bring the benefits of space exploration to all members of the European community. The Vice President emphasized that space efforts were quite costly for any one nation, and that a pooling of resources was certainly necessary. He hoped to discuss this further with French space officials. The Ambassador replied that France was highly pleased with French-NASA cooperation.

In closing, the Vice President complimented Ambassador Lucet on the good impression he had created during his short time in Washington. He mentioned that a group of French parliamentarians had recently visited Washington, without visiting the Senate. He had spoken to the State Department, he said, expressing his wish that all future parliamentary delegations be brought to the Senate.

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  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 17 FR-US. Confidential. Drafted by Van Dyk.
  2. Humphrey and two U.S. astronauts visited Paris June 18-20, 1965, to attend the Paris Air Show. He met with De Gaulle for 80 minutes on June 20 to discuss U.S. policy in the Dominican Republic. The Embassy reported on the Humphrey-De Gaulle talks in telegram 7219 from Paris, June 21, 1965. (Ibid., POL 7 US/HUMPHREY)
  3. June 20-July 1.
  4. The 23d Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was held March 29-April 8.
  5. June 1961. On June 30 Humphrey made a statement backing Mayor Willy Brandt’s comments on the terms of the German peace settlement.
  6. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.