318. Editorial Note

The United States hosted the Washington Energy Conference from February 11 to 13, 1974, at the Department of State. The Foreign Ministers of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom attended. The Finance Ministers of Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands also attended. François-Xavier Ortoli represented the European Commission and Secretary General Emile Van Lennep represented the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (Memorandum from Springsteen to Scowcroft, February 10; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 321, Subject Files, Energy Crisis, Nov 73–Feb 74)

As Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recalled in Years of Upheaval, pages 907–911, he met privately with British Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home, German Foreign Minister Walter Scheel, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Mitchell Sharp, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Masayoshi Ohira, Ortoli, FRG Minister of Finance Helmut Schmidt, and French Minister of Foreign Affairs Michel Jobert. For his meeting with Douglas-Home, see Document 315. The memorandum of conversation with Ohira, February 10, is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 165, Geopolitical Files, Japan, Chron Files, June 26, 1972–Apr 23, 1974. The memorandum [Page 894] of conversation with Scheel is ibid., Box CL 142, Geopolitical Files, Germany FRG, Chron Files, Jan–Feb 1974. No records of the other meetings have been found.

According to Kissinger, there were no other participants in his February 10 meeting with Jobert, which occurred at 9:30 p.m. at the French Embassy. Kissinger recalled that Jobert voiced his opposition to American leadership, but expressed his willingness to support the use of existing OECD energy committees to continue the work of the Washington Energy Conference. Jobert would not pledge in advance to an agreed upon outcome of the conference, and in Kissinger’s opinion, sought to “torpedo” the conference. (Years of Upheaval, pages 909–911, 913) According to telegram 4642 from Paris, February 22, Jobert thought Kissinger used an “abusive” tone at this meeting for which Jobert chastised Kissinger. Additionally, Jobert stated that the United States “browbeat” the Germans by threatening the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and pressured the British by promising to support the pound in return for British support at the conference. A French Foreign Ministry official said “the heart of the current French analysis of U.S./European relations is that the U.S. is attempting either to dominate Europe or break up the Community.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 139, Geopolitical Files, France, Chron Files, 8 Jan–29 May 74)

Kissinger, Federal Energy Administrator William E. Simon, and Secretary of the Treasury George P. Shultz addressed the conference on its opening day, February 11. In his speech, Kissinger stated:

“The United States has called this conference for one central purpose: to move urgently to resolve the energy problem on the basis of cooperation among all nations. Failure to do so would threaten the world with a vicious cycle of competition, autarky, rivalry, and depression such as led to the collapse of world order in the thirties.”

He noted that the U.S. views were that 1) “isolated solutions are impossible,” 2) the situation required “concerted international action,” 3) “developing countries must quickly be drawn into consultation and collaboration,” 4) “cooperation not confrontation must mark our relationships with the producers,” and 5) the United States recognized its responsibility to contribute to a collective solution “as a matter of enlightened self-interest—and moral responsibility—to collaborate in the survival and restoration of the world economic system.” He also suggested that the conference consider seven areas for cooperative exploration: conservation, alternative energy sources, research and development, emergency sharing, international financial cooperation, the less developed countries, and consumer-producer relations. He concluded by urging that a coordinating group be established “to relate the tasks that are assigned to existing bodies to our future work, to undertake [Page 895] those tasks for which there are presently no suitable bodies,” and “to prepare for the next meeting.” Kissinger’s, Shultz’s, and Simon’s addresses are published in full in the Department of State Bulletin, March 4, 1974, pages 201–220.

For Kissinger’s account of the conference, see Years of Upheaval, pages 905–925.