11. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to energy issues.]

Secretary Kissinger: Tom.

Mr. Enders: As I reported to you, the French have political objections to going ahead at an official level in the Camp David follow-up.2 These objections may prove to be less firm than they are right at the moment, if we proceed with floating our ideas in a policy paper. We did not float a piece of paper in Europe, but talked orally to it. The next step would be to talk bilaterally with the Japanese, and then to float the proposals in written form.

Secretary Kissinger: These are officials that are objecting, or Ministers?

Mr. Enders: They were non-committal—

Secretary Kissinger: Whom did you talk to?

Mr. Enders: They were precisely—

Secretary Kissinger: First tell me who it is that was non-committal.

Mr. Enders: The Director General of Economics for the Foreign Office, and the second man in the French Treasury. They have both talked with their ministers beforehand. Their position was, on following up, that they did not exclude a ministers meeting, but they did not wish to meet at the officials level in a group of five.

Secretary Kissinger: I don’t think that proves anything. They are willing to have a ministers meeting, but not an officials meeting. I don’t know what that proves.

Mr. Enders: Well, what it does prove is that they want to slow down the process. They raise a number of political objections to our proposal, basically saying it would be easier for them to borrow money from the Arabs than from us. What I would propose—

Secretary Kissinger: That I believe is true. Somebody could do a great book on the decline of the west—between our madness and the European madness, we will manage to destroy the structure yet.

Mr. Enders: However, they agreed to further bilateral talks, would welcome a U.S. paper. I think we should go ahead now and push that.

[Page 57]

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: It’s the wrong handle.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, this is an exercise we have gone through before. I agree with Hal that it is the wrong handle.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: It is like on our favorite subject of proliferation. I think these things all get lost if they don’t get a push from the Elysée.

Secretary Kissinger: Otherwise they get the bureaucracy lined up before the Elysée can act. It is a waste of time. This will have to wait until the President meets. I don’t mind talking to the others. I don’t see any sense—this is how the French trapped us last time.3 We give them a paper first. They will run around to the other Europeans and claim (a) a special relationship, and (b), claim that they are defending the Europeans. They are not getting a paper first.

Mr. Enders: The proposal was not that they get a paper first. The question is whether now that we have talked bilaterally with everybody but the Japanese, whether we should now push forward a paper. We have to get something in focus.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: We have six weeks before Martinique.4 I think it would be a shame to do it without getting a crack at—

Secretary Kissinger: And four weeks before he sees Schmidt.5

Mr. Enders: That puts a big delay into the process, though.

Secretary Kissinger: Not if the alternative is that they dig into a negative.

Well, who is for it?

Mr. Enders: I think the British will shift their position. They moved substantially in the course of this meeting. The Germans haven’t done anything in between, but I think they will come along. We have not yet talked in detail with the Japanese. The Japanese will join whatever the others do.

Secretary Kissinger: So what do you advance by coming up with a paper? How will that speed things up?

Mr. Enders: Well, they have yet to see reasonably precise U.S. ideas in a form in which they can grapple with it. The British in particular I think would probably lock on pretty fast.

Secretary Kissinger: But if they lock on pretty fast now, they will lock on pretty fast in December.

Mr. Enders: It is a question of whether you can afford that additional delay.

[Page 58]

Secretary Kissinger: Who can’t afford the delay?

Mr. Enders: I think there is some question as to how far the French are going to come on in any case. The question really is whether you build up sufficient momentum—by using the device of this paper, or move around to consultations—to keep the thing going. Otherwise I’m afraid you give the impression that you have had one round of initiative, follow-up official talks, and then quit. I mean something to keep the momentum going.

Secretary Kissinger: Let me think about that. I just know when you give the French a paper on an official level, and they are going to organize everybody against the paper, it is going to go like my Year of Europe speech.6 They are going to find some sentence that they can turn into an offensive sentence. And we are in for a year’s haggling, if the officials get hold of it. And the officials we know are opposed to any such effort on Gaullist grounds.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: The line-up in the Quai below Sauvagnargues is still quite unfavorable.

Secretary Kissinger: You have Piot who is totally opposed to anything like that.

Mr. Hartman: There is ministerial feeling about this, too. It is not just the officials.

Mr. Enders: They both told us that they have talked to their ministers—Treasury and Foreign Affairs.

Secretary Kissinger: Let me think about it. The French certainly never come along unless you keep going without them.

Mr. Enders: That it seems to me is the main reason to keep up some sense of motion here.

Secretary Kissinger: Okay.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to energy issues.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, Lot 78D443, Box 2, Secretary’s Staff Meetings. Secret. Kissinger presided over the meeting, which was attended by all the principal officers of the Department or their designated alternates.
  2. See Document 10.
  3. At the Camp David meeting on September 28; see Document 9.
  4. Ford met with Giscard on the island of Martinique December 15–16. See Document 24.
  5. Schmidt made an official visit to Washington December 4–6. See Document 22.
  6. Kissinger delivered the speech before the annual meeting of the Associated Press editors in New York on April 23, 1973. For the text, see Department of State Bulletin, May 14, 1973, pp. 593–598.