40. Memorandum From C. Fred Bergsten of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Textiles

Harry Dent asked me to be sure that you were informed of the President’s meeting on textiles with Senator Thurmond on February 19.2

The Senator informed the President that we have less than a month to negotiate voluntary restraint agreements. The American Textile Association starts its annual convention on March 17 and will decide at that time to press for quota legislation—in alliance with the shoe and perhaps other interests—if we have not obtained a solution ourselves. Dent feels that the textile people would not back off after making such a decision, and that the Administration would then have to support quota legislation to uphold the President’s campaign commitment.

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The President reaffirmed his commitment to Senator Thurmond and wondered aloud whether Secretary Stans should go immediately to Tokyo. I gather that the Secretary feels that he must have a Presidential letter for Sato to make the trip worthwhile.

Sato Statement

In answer to a question in Parliament, Prime Minister Sato told the Diet on February 18 that he had agreed with the President last November to attempt to solve the textile question as soon as possible in order to avoid damage to U.S./Japanese relations. He added that there was no agreement on the specific way of solving the problem, which he hoped could be handled through friendly talks, but he would respect Diet resolutions opposing the U.S. government proposal. This is the first public indication the Prime Minister has given of his textile commitment to the President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 924, VIP Visits, Sato Visit, Vol. II, Textiles [3 of 3]. No classification marking. Cleared by Lindsey Grant (EAP). Sent for information. Kissinger underlined the last sentence of the memorandum and wrote in the margin: “How can this be unclassified. I don’t want another Bergsten comment.”
  2. No other account of Thurmond’s meeting with the President has been found. On February 16, Ken Belieu, Deputy Assistant to the President for Senate Relations, sent a memorandum to Peter Flanigan that stated, inter alia: “The major part of the textile industry is located in states that supported the President in 1968. Failure to achieve a solution of the textile import problem in the relatively near future could make it very tough going for our Republicans this year especially in South Carolina and Georgia. A solution of the problem could also be very important in Alabama, where Wallace is strong and critical of the Administration.” (Ibid., [2 of 3])