103. Editorial Note

The issue of Italian and Canadian participation in the economic summit continued to cause debate. In a September 23, 1975, conversation with President Gerald Ford, President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Brent Scowcroft, Italian Ambassador to the United States Roberto Gaja, and Italian Foreign Minister Mariano Rumor again urged Italian participation, relaying Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro’s message requesting "that you see that we are included in any economic summit." (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 15)

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A September 27 National Security Council briefing memorandum that President Ford saw in preparation for a meeting that day with French Foreign Minister Jean Sauvagnargues reads: "Following through on your understanding with Giscard and Schmidt, George Shultz and Hal Sonnenfeldt will meet on October 5 in New York with ’experts’ nominated by Schmidt, Wilson and Giscard, to discuss plans for an economic summit in mid-November. The French wish to see such a summit concentrate on monetary affairs, particularly on the issue of fixed versus floating exchange rates, while the Germans wish it to focus on coordinated action for economic expansion. Our own interest is in a broad effort to face up to the political implications of the economic problems of the industrial democracies. A procedural but highly important issue is that of attendance at the summit, particularly whether the Italians are to be invited. At the four-power meeting on September 24 in New York, the four Foreign Ministers found themselves generally agreed that, while the Italians might make no particularly useful contribution, the political consequences of not including the Italians—specifically its effect on the continued viability of a non-Communist government in Italy—were a strong argument for their inclusion. Exclusion would seriously weaken Italy’s Christian Democratic leadership with the consequent adverse impact on NATO. It remains to be seen, however, whether Wilson, Giscard, and particularly Schmidt can be brought to agree to Italian attendance. In the meantime the Italians, who have a good idea what is going on, have designated their own ’expert’ to participate in preliminary discussions on the summit. Prime Minister Moro, in a recent letter to you, has emphasized the strong importance he attaches to Italian participation, and Foreign Minister Rumor underlined this in his meeting with you on September 23." (Ibid., Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 3, France (6))

The President met with Sauvagnargues, along with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Scowcroft, and French Ambassador Jacques Koscuisko-Morizet, on September 27 from 10:03 to 10:40 a.m. in the Oval Office. Scowcroft’s record of the conversation reads: "Talk turned to the upcoming economic summit and centered around the participation of Italy in Western strategy sessions. The President raised the subject and Secretary Kissinger mentioned that the UK had conveyed to the Italians that their participation in Western strategy sessions was awaiting a decision by France and West Germany. President Ford remarked that he thought they should be included and that Rumor had raised the issue with him. Sauvagnargues indicated that neither France nor the Federal Republic of Germany was enthusiastic at Italy’s inclusion but said that he appreciated the political problems involved in excluding them. He then added that in his view it was important not to compromise the solidarity of the EC now—as exemplified by their cohesive policy towards Portugal—by meeting in groups of four or five. [Page 331]The President replied that Rumor had made his request based on his being the current President of the EC. Sauvagnargues retorted that if they (Italians) were to be represented at all, it should be as Italy and not as a representative of the EC." (Ibid., KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 12, France—General (2) (4/4/75–10/1/75)) The time of the meeting is drawn from another copy of the memorandum of conversation. (Ibid., Memoranda of Conversation, Box 15)

On October 1, after the French and West Germans had given their consent, the Italian Government was invited to send a representative to the October 5–6 preliminary talks in New York. (Telegram 233518 to Rome, October 1; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)

The issue of Canadian participation was less easily resolved. In telegram 235072 to Ottawa, October 2, Sonnenfeldt reported that Canadian Ambassador Jack Warren had met with him "to make a strong pitch for Canadian participation in any economic summit." Sonnenfeldt replied "that the US was in favor, but that we were not in a position to make a unilateral decision," recommending that the Canadian Government lobby the other summit participants. In the same telegram, Sonnenfeldt also reported that Chancellor Schmidt had recently told Shultz and himself "that while he wished the original group had not been expanded, he had no objection to Canadian participation." Chancellor Schmidt had also "recalled that he, Shultz and Giscard had discussed [Canadian participation] when they met in Paris last month and had agreed in principle to include Canada if Italy were included." Sonnenfeldt subsequently noted the Chancellor’s remarks to Koscuisko-Morizet. (Ibid.)

On October 3, President Ford and Chancellor Schmidt met, along with Kissinger, Scowcroft, West German Ambassador Berndt von Staden, and West German Federal Chancellery Assistant Secretary Dieter Hiss, in the Oval Office from noon to 1:15 p.m. The Chancellor opined that "we should invite Canada since Italy has practically been invited. The President "agree[d] that Canada should be invited." (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 15)

In telegram 241540 to Ottawa, October 9, Sonnenfeldt reported on an October 8 meeting between Kissinger and Warren, during which the Secretary assured the Ambassador "that the U.S. is strongly supporting Canada’s inclusion in the conference and said the President might be writing personally to Giscard to recommend Canadian participation. As we understand that Britain, Japan and West Germany also support Ottawa’s candidacy, the Secretary said he thought it would be very difficult for the French to turn down this request." Kissinger also stressed "the importance of keeping this issue from evolving into a confrontation with the French. He said we were trying to devise a face-saving formula which would facilitate a change of position by the French." (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)