268. Message From the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs (Enders) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Tohak. Subject: Economic Policy Board Meeting on the World Food Conference.2

Meeting started with Eberle saying there were three areas in which the U.S. did not have coordinated positions: (a) whether or not there should be targets for grains reserves, food aid, agricultural research, and what the targets should be if adopted; (b) the whole question of how to relate the reserves negotiation to the multilateral trade negotiation; and (c) whether or not we would support multi-year planning for food aid.
I responded by saying that the only numerical targets essential to the success of the meeting is the grains reserve figure. It is simply not possible for the U.S. to call a major meeting of this kind, identify the food security problem as a pressing international need, and not come up with an estimate of what the world needs to achieve food security. On relationship to the multilateral trade negotiations, I agreed that it is an issue but that it need not be addressed now. Building up reserves would increase the world demand for grains and provide us new markets; no doubt we must also address the question of what happens in periods of surplus; those decisions can be made subsequent to the World Food Conference and would not be prejudiced by your speech. On multi-year planning for food aid, I said that your speech identified a process for developing such planning, but is not a commitment to a specific formula or numbers.
Butz, Ash, Simon, and Seidman all pushed to remove any specifics or targets from your speech, arguing in various ways that it was either not necessary (because the Conference is largely targeted on attitudes) or not possible (because the U.S. Government had incompletely coordinated positions). Of those present only Butz had read the speech.
Simon concluded by saying that he would have to3 read the speech, and the group will consider whether there are issues in it that must go to the President. He characterized the difference between what Eberle was saying and what I was saying as “semantical” and said that he thought that drafting changes might be all that would be required.
I pointed out that we must have all commitments for transmission to you by 1800 local this afternoon. I am meeting with Seidman and Simon in a few minutes to review their comments. If they have something they wish to take up with the President, a meeting with the President would follow almost immediately at 1100.
(Scowcroft to Kissinger) Butz apparently raised the objection to specifics and targets in your speech, and Seidman thereupon indicated there was no way usefully to discuss it without that portion of the speech. The situation at the moment is a shambles but we will try to work it through without damage.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Scowcroft Daily Work Files, Box 8, 10/25–31/74. Secret; Sensitive; Flash. The original is the text as approved for transmission before a Tohak number was assigned. On October 31, Kissinger traveled from Dacca to Rawalpindi. From October 23 to November 9, Kissinger visited Europe, South and Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.
  2. The relevant portion of the October 31 EPB Executive Committee meeting minutes reads: “There was a general discussion of a draft of Secretary Kissinger’s speech to the World Food Conference. The Executive Committee members will forward specific recommendations through Mr. Seidman to Mr. Enders who will transmit them to Secretary Kissinger.” (Ibid., U.S. Council of Economic Advisers Records, Alan Greenspan Files, Box 57, Economic Policy Board Meetings, EPB—October 1974)
  3. An unidentified hand crossed out the words “will not” and substituted “would have to.”