342. Memorandum From Ernest Johnston of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Your Meeting with Secretary Stans at 9:45 a.m.
Secretary Stans has asked to speak with you for ten minutes.
I am not sure what he wishes to raise, but he may wish to talk about:
The Fino Amendment
Stans wrote to the President on July 13 asking that he be allowed to inform key Senate and House conferees that the President would soften his already low-key opposition to elimination of the Fino Amendment from the Export-Import Bank Bill.2 (The Fino Amendment forbids Ex-Im credits to countries trading with North Vietnam.)
You correctly foresaw that no Administration change was necessary, but we have not responded to Stans’ memorandum. The conferees voted yesterday to eliminate the amendment. This should answer Stans’ question, but he may still feel that the Administration needs to soften its position to avoid having the House restore the amendment on the floor. He would argue that we now have the opportunity to restore Presidential flexibility with little chance of public exposure. Ex-Im Bank legislation will not come up for consideration again for another four or five years.
You might state that you do not wish the Administration to take any action that the Soviets would recognize and interpret as a change of signals on the Vietnam war or in our general relations.
The Kama River Project
Stans wants the Administration to approve U.S. industrial participation in the Soviet construction of a huge truck factory, the Kama River truck factory. Stans is preparing an options paper to go to the President, but Defense is holding the paper up by not sending him its comments. The Soviets have notified the U.S. firms that the previous June 25 deadline for U.S. Government approval has been extended to July 25. There is no chance that the President will make a decision by that time.[Page 872]
Stans may wish to ask that we inform the Russians that they should not hold fast to any deadline since we are still considering the project actively.
You might tell Stans that we have so far not found that the Russians have been very serious about these deadlines, particularly on a project so important as Kama River. Though you may not wish to tell Stans any of the details of your conversations with Ambassador Dobrynin,3 you could tell Stans that the Soviets are perfectly aware that we are still examining the project. In addition, their bargaining leverage has somewhat diminished now that Mack Truck has told them that it wishes to renegotiate the terms of its contract.