313. Editorial Note
On February 2, 1970, President Nixon met with Secretary Hardin, Don Paarlberg, Bryce Harlow, John Whitaker, and John Ehrlichman from 3:10 to 4:10 p.m. Henry Kissinger and Fred Bergsten joined the meeting at 3:44 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) On February 4 Bergsten sent Kissinger a memorandum for his files recording the discussion. The first item was the meat import program; see Document 424. The portion of Bergsten’s record of the meeting that deals with P.L. 480 programs for Communist countries reads as follows (Kissinger’s [Page 811] memorandum and the legislation mentioned in the first sentence are not further identified):
“The President indicated that he had read Dr. Kissinger’s memorandum on the subject and asked whether we could write language into the bill to provide Presidential authority to waive the present restrictions. He wished to get us into position to have something with which to bargain with the Communist countries. As a practical matter, we cannot make subsidized sales to countries trading with North Vietnam. The present prohibition will thus over-ride until that situation changes, but it certainly could change.
“Dr. Kissinger indicated that there were now four restrictions on PL 480 sales to Communist countries. The President could not waive the restriction on sales to countries trading with North Vietnam. He could waive the restriction on countries trading with Cuba. He had no waiver authority on the prohibition on sales to ‘countries controlling the world Communist movement,’ which means the USSR and presumably China. He had no authority to waive the prohibition on local currency sales to Communist countries.
“Dr. Kissinger thought that the restriction on sales to countries trading with Vietnam was helpful. It enabled us to blame Congress when the issue comes up, as it did with Romania. However, we might consider seeking a waiver authority on the other prohibitions: those applying to local currency sales and sales to the USSR/China. Our possessing this authority would put pressure on them to help in Vietnam and would signal that we are prepared to deal with them after the war.
“The President agreed with Dr. Kissinger’s suggestions. They would give us a better bargaining position. We can tell Congress that there will be a market in those countries in the future. Dr. Kissinger agreed that they would give us an additional foreign policy tool and that we cannot get away from the restriction on Vietnam trading anyway. Secretary Hardin supported the changes.
“The President repeated his strong view that the present prohibitions on trading with Communist countries are obsolete. When the Vietnam war is over, we will sell to China if they are able to buy from us. We should not anticipate a huge market but there will be something in it. (Dr. Kissinger clarified that the issue was credits and local currency sales, not dollar sales.) The President directed that waiver authority on the two provisions be included in the proposed PL 480 legislation.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 196, Agriculture, Volume I 1969-1970)