98. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford 1


  • Results of Brezhnev–Giscard Summit

Summary: General Secretary Brezhnev returned to Moscow on December 7 after a three day working visit to France. Early reports on the results of the visit suggest that Brezhnev probably was satisfied with Giscard’s promises of continuity with the Pompidou/De Gaulle foreign policy and clearly reassured at the extent to which France is proving willing and able to participate in large-scale, long term economic cooperation. The French seem pleased that Giscard has reaffirmed the “privileged interlocutor” status which Pompidou had with Brezhnev. Apart from CSCE, discussions on the Middle East and other international subjects seem to have been limited to routine exchanges, stressing large convergence of views. The bilateral economic agreements which were signed, while broad in scope, are vague on specifics and contain no surprises. Giscard will make an official visit to the USSR in 1975, probably around September–October.

The principal results of the meeting were as follows:

CSCE: Brezhnev succeeded in changing France’s heretofore noncommittal attitude toward a CSCE summit, apparently without making any binding concessions on Basket III issues. CSCE apparently occupied a large part of the tête-à-tête meetings, during which Brezhnev obviously made a major effort to bring Giscard around. In gaining Giscard’s agreement on a summit, Brezhnev achieved something always [Page 383] beyond his grasp with Pompidou. The French take the view that their position is a “yes, but” on the summit question; nevertheless, the communiqué wording is distinctly favorable to the Soviet view.2

Bilateral Economic Issues: Brezhnev and Giscard signed a five year economic cooperation agreement.3 Originally, it was not planned that they personally would sign it, but the change was made at Soviet insistence. The agreement is vague and merely states that the two sides will cooperate to augment exchanges. Soviet Foreign Trade Minister Patolichev and French Finance Minister Fourcade signed three agreements: a ten year industrial cooperation agreement, a credit agreement, and an agreement for the purchase of Soviet natural gas.

Middle East: Discussion seems to have been confined to a routine exchange stressing a close convergence of views. The Middle East portion of the communiqué contains no new elements. The French seem to have resisted Soviet pressure to call for the creation of a Palestinian state as rapidly as possible. Both sides called for the earliest possible reconvening of a Geneva peace conference.

Brezhnev’s Health: Several alterations in the program, late starting of several meetings and, in particular, Brezhnev’s non-attendance at Giscard’s December 6 luncheon, led inevitably to further speculation about Brezhnev’s health. Brezhnev’s schedule was in fact deliberately lightened on December 6. Brezhnev showed signs of fatigue after the tête-à-têtes, and his speech seemed more slurred than usual at his departure. In the absence of more persuasive evidence, however, the likely explanation is simply that he is weary from a recent heavy schedule—including his meetings with you and a major visit to Mongolia—which would take its toll on any man of 68.

General: Overall, there is no evidence of a measurable shift in Franco-Soviet relations as a result of the summit. If Brezhnev was a little anxious when he arrived, he had every reason to be satisfied when he left. He presumably was pleased by Giscard’s give on CSCE and by the warm tone of the meetings, and reassured that the new French government has the same basic attitude toward the USSR as did the governments of De Gaulle and Pompidou. On the French side, the visit served to bolster Giscard’s image as he turns this week to the EC summit and his meeting with you in Martinique. Nevertheless, some press commentary contained more than a hint that Moscow got the better of [Page 384] the exchange. It is too early to measure the impact of the meeting on France’s relations with its European allies, but the possibility of a lasting negative impact exists.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, 1974–1977, Box 17, USSR (6). Confidential. Sent for information. The memorandum is based on reporting from the Embassy in Paris, in particular telegram 29492, December 9. Clift forwarded a copy of the telegram and a draft of the memorandum on December 10 to Scowcroft, who made minor revisions to the text of the latter. (Ibid.) Ford initialed the memorandum. According to an attached correspondence profile, the President saw it on December 14.
  2. The joint communiqué was issued in Paris on December 7. The Embassy forwarded the text in telegram 29497, December 9. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  3. For the text of the agreement, signed by Brezhnev and Giscard in Paris on December 6, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXVI, No. 49 (January 1, 1975), pp. 49–50.