211. Memorandum of Conversation1

    • The Secretary’s Conversation with French Foreign Minister Jobert
    • France
      • Michel Jobert, Foreign Minister
      • Jacques Kosciusko-Morizet, Ambassador to the U.S.
      • Francois de La Gorce, Minister, Embassy of France
    • U.S.
      • The Secretary
      • Walter J. Stoessel, Jr.
      • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
      • Robert J. McCloskey

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

[Mr. Jobert:] Now, I see that the Arabs are proposing to double the price of oil.

The Secretary: But this is not a result of the war.

Mr. Jobert: Will you agree to discuss the question of price with them?

The Secretary: One basic law is that the stupidity of our oil companies is unlimited. They will always want to pass on the price increase to the consumers.

Mr. Jobert: I am told that you would be willing to accept this price increase.

The Secretary: Our problem on oil is that we do not have a strategy.

Mr. Jobert: You have had reports from the State Department for two years about this.

The Secretary: That’s the trouble. But we really have no strategy on this question and we will have to devise one. First, we must get the oil companies together and bring home to them the facts of foreign policy.

The instinct of the companies is always to come to us to get us to pressure the other governments for them. Then, they make deals and come back to us two years later and ask for more. This must end, and I will do that.

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Mr. Jobert: Can you do that—do you have the power?

The Secretary: I don’t know, but I will give it a good try. I can do it with the companies. They do not understand politics. But whether I can bring our government into line is something else again. I don’t know.

Thereafter, there is the question of relations with the other consuming countries.

There really is a kind of madness. You are nationalized in Algeria, and then our companies go in to take your place. We might be nationalized somewhere else, and we are replaced by others. We should discuss all of this with the consuming nations.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

Mr. Jobert: From what you said about oil, I conclude that, this afternoon at 1700 hours in Vienna you will say “Yes” to the oil countries.

The Secretary: I really don’t know about this. The matter has not been deemed sufficiently important to be brought to my attention. However, I don’t believe that the financial policy of these Arab countries is directly linked to the Middle Eastern war. It is an illusion to think that, once the war is settled, then there would be no problem about oil. However, the present method of dealing with the question is suicidal.

First, we must get our own house in order. We are prepared to talk with you about this on a very confidential basis. If you wish to send someone over to see us, we will welcome that.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 679, Country Files, Europe, France, Vol. XI, April 73–31 Dec 73. Secret. Drafted by Stoessel. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.