81. Telegram From the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach) to the Department of State1

18701. Secun 17. For the Secretary from the Under Secretary. Amb. Shriver and I saw Foreign Minister Debre for 1/2 hour meeting this evening.

Debre stated the French Economy Minister said he thought there would be serious difficulties for the remainder of this year, but that things would pick up around January and continue on an upward course. He said his technicians thought this view somewhat pessimistic and that the upturn would come sooner.

In response to my question on his view as to Czech, the Minister said that it was absolutely impossible for the Soviet Union to accept the course of liberalization in Czech because if this continued it would affect all other Eastern European countries and prove to be irreversible. He did not think that it would be possible to reverse this course in Czech, other than by force. He thought the Soviets were prepared to do this. He said it was conceivable, but unlikely, that Dubcek could avert the crisis by making major concessions to the Soviets. He would have to promise to exercise strict press censorship, etc.

At one point in the conversation he said that he did not think his view different from that expressed by Bohlen as reported by Lucet. I said I thought he took a more pessimistic view. Debre said that Soviet intervention would be tragic for Europe but there was nothing anybody could do about it.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, France, Vol. 13. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Katzenbach visited Paris on his return from New Dehli where he led the U.S. delegation in talks with Indian leaders July 26-28.