290. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • European Matters


  • His Excellency Ernst Lemberger, Ambassador of Austria
  • Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • John E. Crump, Austrian Affairs, EUR/AIS

1. NATO and European Security

Mr. Stoessel replied to the Ambassador’s request for a review of current European developments with a brief review of the Brosio visit and the renewed activity in NATO arising from the now-concluded Harmel study. It appears there is not much Soviet interest in mutual reduction of forces and that they are attempting in general, to solidify the status quo and to gain GDR recognition. The Soviets continue to suggest European participants only in any European security conference, but they would probably agree in the end to our participation. Ambassador Lemberger said he felt such a conference would not be useful at this time because it would only lead to a reaffirmation of the status quo. Mr. Stoessel agreed and added that it also raised the German question without prospect of settlement or progress. There are other less spectacular steps which could be taken to lead to a reduction of tension. We still see NATO as a necessary security element, but we feel it can also be used as an instrument to reduce tension.

2. Economic Developments

Turning to European Community matters, Ambassador Lemberger said the results of the Kiesinger-De Gaulle meeting2 were not clear, but he was not optimistic that progress had been made. Mr. Stoessel said it [Page 669] appeared that France is upset at being excluded by the Five and has decided it will participate in talks with the British, although this does not mean any improvement in the likely result of the talks—association, not membership, remains the offer to the British. Ambassador Lemberger remarked that a trade agreement is easier to achieve when the aim is merely a customs union and Mr. Stoessel reminded him we could not welcome moves which led merely to a free trade area.

Returning to the possibility of lessening of tension with Eastern European countries, Ambassador Lemberger said it appeared the Administration wished to take steps in this direction, but opposition was being encountered in Congress. Mr. Stoessel agreed and added this is related to the Eastern European support for North Viet-Nam. For example, after Poland had boasted of its support there, the Congress wanted to withdraw Poland’s most-favored-nation treatment. Ambassador Lemberger replied that the Romanian Ambassador had recently expressed his disappointment over his country’s failure to achieve MFN treatment, although Romania is seeking to expand trade. Mr. Stoessel said our difficulty is that we sometimes cannot find much to buy from Eastern European countries. We are also hampered by our difficulty in extending credit, but our policy remains to favor trade and contacts there.

3. Sweden

Ambassador Lemberger referred to a recently published study which indicated Sweden was the third most admired foreign nation in the United States and said this appeared to be changing. Is it true to speak of tension between the two countries? Mr. Stoessel replied this is too strong a statement. There has perhaps been some change in public opinion because many Americans find it difficult to understand Sweden welcoming U.S. deserters and the increase in demonstrations there recently has been noted. Now Sweden is moving to recognize Hanoi; this is not unexpected and might help in contacting Hanoi from the West. None of these will bring an official reaction from us and, in general, the Swedish image here is good.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 4 NATO. Confidential. Drafted by Crump on February 23. The source text is labeled “Part II of II.”
  2. February 15–16 at Paris.