82. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1


  • U.S. Claims Against France

Attached is Secretary Rusk’s memo requesting approval to initiate talks with the French on compensation for losses we incurred when we had to move our military installations out of France.2 Secretaries Fowler and Clifford join in this recommendation.

These claims cover:

  • —the estimated value of the remaining useful life of the facilities we left in France; plus
  • —certain moving costs involved in the relocation.

State estimates the total at $230-$250 million.

Our NATO allies may be willing to share certain of these relocation costs with us (up to a maximum of $96 million). They expect repayment in proportion to any compensation we might ultimately receive from France. They expect us to bring our bilateral claim to France before they begin negotiations with us to share in our costs.

In addition to our bilateral claims, we share in the combined NATO financial claims against France for similar costs on NATO-financed facilities. The Fourteen invited the French to begin discussions on this issue in February but so far received only a stalling response.

Asking the French to begin discussions on our bilateral claim may look like provoking a U.S.-French confrontation. The French response will probably amount to a stall or a brush-off. But we do have a legitimate claim and we will be subject to Congressional criticism if we delay presenting it. To take both factors into account, Secretary Rusk is recommending a low-key approach (along the lines of the attached draft note), with no public statement.

John Leddy will seek Ambassador Shriver’s advice on a suitable time to make this approach.

I concur in Secretary Rusk’s recommendation.

[Page 160]

Approve approach to the French3


Call me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, France, Vol. 14. Confidential.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The President checked this option.