119. Letter From President Carter to French President Giscard d’Estaing 1

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your letter of January 29, 1977,2 which Vice President Mondale brought to me from Paris.3 He has reported to me on the frank and useful discussions he had with you during his visit. I am pleased at the beginning of my Administration to have your views on the full range of major world issues which both our countries face.

I believe that we are in full agreement on the urgency of the world energy problem. In the current market situation, it is in the interest of the oil-consuming countries to reinforce the decision of Saudi Arabia [Page 414] and the United Arab Emirates at the Qatar meeting of OPEC, to limit the increase in the price of their oil. It is therefore important that all oil available at the lower price be taken up through the international market.

As you suggest, we must also try to moderate overall demand for oil. In this regard, I applaud the decision by your Government to continue a ceiling on oil imports. In the United States, we are trying, in dealing with the effects of this unusually severe winter, to limit as much as possible the extent to which our increased need for fuel results in higher levels of oil imports.

I also agree that it is important for the major oil-consuming industrialized countries to adopt serious long-term programs to reduce our requirements for imported oil. As Vice President Mondale explained to you, I attach the highest priority to the prompt creation of an effective U.S. program to reduce our dependence on imported oil. By mid-April, my Administration will develop a comprehensive set of energy proposals, focusing both on conservation and on the faster development of domestic energy sources.

I recognize the special responsibility of the United States in reducing worldwide demand for OPEC oil. As you suggest, no one country—or even a group of countries such as those belonging to the European Community—can by itself bring about the major change in the world energy situation needed to safeguard our shared, long-term economic interests. Therefore, I believe we must proceed together, with each of us helping as much as possible to reach our common goal of reduced dependence on imported oil and a more stable world balance of energy supply and demand.

The United States and other members of the International Energy Agency have begun a program to review national energy programs, recommend ways to improve them, and establish medium-term objectives for reducing dependence on imported oil. The United States will explore new cooperative measures with our friends abroad, to reinforce national energy efforts through developing alternative fuel supplies and expanding cooperation on energy research.

I hope that through bilateral discussions, and through continuing consultations on energy between the United States and the European Community, we can all assure that our national programs and goals are in harmony. You and I will, of course, have a chance at the Summit meeting in May to discuss these matters, together with the other leaders who will attend, and to examine new possibilities for cooperation. Improvement in the energy outlook is essential to a healthy world economy, and expanded cooperation in energy must, therefore, be a [Page 415] central element in our common effort to strengthen relations among industrialized countries.


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, White House Central Files, Subject File, Box TA–26, Trade. No classification marking.
  2. In his letter, Giscard recounted the details of a conversation that he had with King Khalid during his visit to Saudi Arabia. According to Giscard, Khalid had suggested that, for the industrialized countries to realize the benefit of his decision to limit a price increase for unrefined Saudi oil to 5 percent, they would have to “try to moderate their oil demands so as to avoid any pressure on the market.” Giscard informed Carter that the French Government shared Khalid’s analysis and had “decided, for itself, to implement measures that would favor some relaxation of the oil market.” Giscard added: “It seems to me obvious that France’s efforts, or even those of Europe, will be insufficient in reducing the world-wide oil demand, if your country, first importer and first consumer in the world, doesn’t rapidly and firmly pursue the same policy.” (Telegram 35698 to Paris; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D770056–0767)
  3. Mondale’s visit to France was part of a 9-day trip that began on January 23 and included stops in Belgium, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Italy, France, and Japan. In a February 12 message to Giscard thanking him for his “hospitality to the Vice President,” Carter wrote that he appreciated his letter “about the energy situation.” (Telegram 36220 to Paris; ibid., D770050–0593)