111. Message From President Ford to British Prime Minister Wilson 1

WH51991. Deliver at opening of business.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I wanted to convey to you my satisfaction with the prospect of the summit meeting next month. I greatly look forward to a full and candid review of the great problems we all face together. The spirit of the preparatory work since Helsinki suggests that we will have a real opportunity to give impulse to cooperative approaches among the industrial democracies and thus to demonstrate our political resolve to deal with the issues before us.

I am concerned, however, with one aspect of the summit: the continued resistance of our French colleague to the inclusion of Canada. I am sure all of us would have preferred the more limited meeting of five leaders. At the same time, we recognized the political imperatives that required the inclusion of Italy. But it was always clear that once this occurred the Canadians had a most legitimate claim to come as well. Indeed, for us in the United States there could be no question that a country which is our largest trading partner, whose economy is so intimately intertwined with ours and which clearly ranks as a leading economic power in the world would have to be present at the summit once it was enlarged beyond the original five.

As a matter of procedure, I find it quite dismaying that one member of a group should claim a veto in a matter of such obvious concern to the others. I considered holding up the summit announcement until the Canadian issue was settled but decided against such tactics because I felt they were unworthy among friends and allies and I could not believe that our French colleague would persist in a position that could only detract from the promise of the enterprise on which we are embarked and which he himself had so strongly advocated.

I am not certain what steps you might be in a position to take to help bring this issue to a conclusion. I have had a so far fruitless exchange of messages with Giscard 2 and I have also been in touch with Chancellor Schmidt 3 who has exchanged messages with Giscard and also spoken to him on the phone but so far without result. The Japanese [Page 349]have strongly indicated their support of Canadian participation to Secretary Kissinger when he passed through Tokyo.4 I propose to be in touch with Giscard again shortly.5

Meanwhile, however, I did want you to know my own views on this matter and to be aware of my concern that this unfortunate and, in my view, unnecessary episode could cloud the outcome of the summit.6

Sincerely,

Gerald R. Ford
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 24, United Kingdom (20) (3/3/75–11/18/75). Secret; Immediate.
  2. See Document 105 and footnote 4, Document 106.
  3. See Document 106.
  4. Kissinger visited Tokyo on October 18 and 19 en route to China.
  5. See Document 110.
  6. Replying to President Ford in a message sent on November 1, Prime Minister Wilson agreed on the merits of the Canadian case for participation and said that he shared the President’s "reluctance to accept that the French President should be allowed to decide who should or should not participate." Wilson asserted that while it would be unwise to cancel the summit, "we should do all we can to ensure Canada’s attendance" and suggested that he might approach President Giscard on the issue. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 24, United Kingdom (20) (3/3/75–11/18/1975)) In a November 4 message to Prime Minister Wilson, the President encouraged him to share his views with President Giscard "and to point out that an unfortunate and wholly unnecessary cloud has been placed over a project that seemed so promising for all of us." (Ibid.)