363. Editorial Note

On September 8 and 9, 1969, a 10-member French delegation, divided evenly between government and industry representatives, visited Washington for technical-level discussions with U.S. officials regarding their interest in exporting transistor technology to Poland. The U.S. delegation was headed by Assistant Secretary of State Philip Trezise and included representatives from the Defense Department, Commerce Department, and the CIA.

On September 10 the Department of State sent a report to Henry Kissinger apprising him that as a result of the informal discussions, the French on September 15 were to submit a formal request to COCOM for an exception to the embargo for the first phase of the technology for silicon transistor production. The French reportedly understood that the United States would examine carefully all aspects of the transaction and might not approve exceptions for some of the items. In a September 12 memorandum to Kissinger transmitting the report, Helmut Sonnenfeldt noted that the talks had gone well and that the State Department report indicated that all agencies approved. He added that Kissinger had “brownie points” in Paris for his role in moving this case forward. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files-Europe, Box 695, France, Volume III Jan 69-10/31/69)

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On October 8 Sonnenfeldt sent Kissinger a memorandum reporting on Sonnenfeldt’s meeting with French Ambassador Lucet that day. Sonnenfeldt noted that French officials were becoming increasingly “upset” and recommended that if Lucet raised the issue, Kissinger should tell him it had turned out to be more complicated than expected and was still under review by the concerned agencies. Sonnenfeldt attached a background paper on the transistor problem for Kissinger’s information in which he explained that following the French presentation of their request in COCOM on September 15, the U.S. delegation had been without instructions at subsequent meetings on September 23 and 30 and on October 7. He indicated that all Kissinger could tell Lucet was that the U.S. position would be ready for the next COCOM meeting on October 14. (Ibid.)