306. Telegram From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to Secretary of State Kissinger in Panama1

WH40378/Tohak 9. Following is a message to you from Donaldson, Sonnenfeldt, and Lord.

Begin text:

This will give you a brief run-down of our eight hours of confidential talks with the British and German emissaries on the energy conference. We met with Sir Jack Rampton, Carrington’s deputy, Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon, and with Poehl, Schmidt’s deputy, Thursday morning.2 Chuck Cooper joined us for the Thursday meetings. We outlined our approach to the energy situation and conference in their political as well as economic dimensions. We hit them hard on our ideas for the procedure, agenda, and outcome for the conference and the need for the allied nations to work cooperatively at this juncture in history. We told them we could stand bilateralism better than anyone else and would not accept being bilked by the Europeans of what we have to offer in return for business as usual.
Both the Germans and the British stated that they agreed with our general approach but freely admitted that they will be cautious publicly, and probably privately as well, because of the French. They are clearly in an unheroic mood and will need considerable bucking up over the coming days. The Germans seem even less willing to take on the French than the British. Our judgement is that both countries will try to be helpful to a point, but will not risk an open break with the French at least until they are made to fear an open break with us.
The key issue that seems to be shaping up is whether there will be an ongoing mechanism flowing from the conference and what it looks like. As we already knew, the French tactic will be to have this conference a one-shot affair and any on-going work buried in international bureaucracies, with a view to an early meeting with the producing countries and freedom to pursue bilateral deals.
We gave the British and the Germans draft texts no. 5 of the communiqué which you have with you.3 We stressed the absolute requirement [Page 862] for confidentiality and made it clear that this was only a working level draft which did not have your approval. We also had its contents passed orally to Soames in order to help him influence the EEC communiqué drafting process now apparently underway. The British know who has our communiqué draft but the Germans do not. The EEC Commission is probably patterning their draft after their public mandate; we emphasized to the British the desirability of moving the EEC draft if possible towards ours before the Sunday4 preparatory meeting here.
We expect to get the German reaction to the communiqué tomorrow. The British said they had no basic problem with our text except on the crucial Articles 15 and 20 concerning follow-on machinery which they thought were very unlikely to be accepted. They recommended that we not table these paragraphs but merely indicate that language concerning follow-on procedures would have to be inserted at these places. They thought the most likely outcome on this issue would be agreement to continue work generally in forums like the OECD with perhaps ad hoc review by senior Foreign Office officials from the nations of this conference and mention of the possibility of another Ministerial meeting without a specified date. Even this they consider would be difficult to sell to the French. We made clear that this fell far short of what we had in mind. They said it would be important to emphasize the ad hoc rather than the permanent nature of any on-going mechanism and that some early contact would be made with the procedures as well as the LDCs. They did back away from setting a specific date for a formal meeting with the producers as suggested in the EEC mandate and accepted the general principle that consumers should coordinate their views first.
We stressed at length the crucial importance of there being follow-on cooperative work by the consumers and that it be given political impetus and oversight. We emphasized that wherever the work was to be done there had to be provision for reporting back to the nations of the Washington conference at the political level and that there be a timetable to ensure prompt action.
The British said they would be as helpful as possible generally and in influencing the communiqué, but on the latter point said that the EEC drafting might already be quite far along and could reflect the EEC mandate.
The procedures for the conference may not be a major issue. The Europeans will probably not want formal sub-groups, but we could probably work out the concept that following the plenary session the [Page 863] Foreign Ministers could continue to meet as a group while the other officials assemble elsewhere to concentrate on their special areas.
The Germans are clearly upset at recent French [garble] actions, particularly their float of the franc. They see very serious worldwide consequences flowing from the present situation if unchanged but believe they will generally fare better than others like the British and French who will be the hardest hit. They also seem ready to take on the price issue frontally at the conference. But they clearly are in no mood to take on the French. Your meetings with Scheel and Schmidt Sunday shape up as real power plays to get the Germans moving. End text.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor 1955–77, Sonnenfeldt Lot Files, Box 4, Energy. Top Secret; Immediate; Sensitive; Eyes Only.
  2. February 6 and 7.
  3. Not found.
  4. February 10.