16. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

248868. Subject: Response to Giscard Initiative. For the Chargé.

1. You should transmit the following letter to Sauvagnargues:

2. Begin text: Dear Mr. Foreign Minister: I wish to thank you for your letter of explanation on President Giscard’s proposals for a producer-consumer conference.2 We also appreciated the talks Mr. Brunet had in Washington.3

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3. As you know, we have always favored a producer-consumer dialogue that is well-prepared and has some prospect for a constructive outcome. It has been our view that such an outcome requires the development of consumer solidarity in the fields of emergency sharing, conservation and financial management. We have felt that these were necessary ingredients and should move in parallel with the preparation of positive proposals to put before the producers.

4. We intend to proceed with this approach in the IEA and other forums and look forward to exchanging ideas with the French Government as well at an appropriate time when our thoughts are in more concrete form.

5. I have read an account of your speech in the National Assembly4 and I am disturbed by the fact that another French Foreign Minister has once again raised the specter of condominium. I do not understand the sensitivity to the June 22, 1973, agreement. It is never invoked or even referred to in the terms you used by anyone other than France. This is particularly regrettable because of the authoritative and solemn comments I made at last year’s NATO Ministerial meeting in Brussels in response to your predecessor’s statements.5 I take little comfort in the improved tone of our relations if so basic a suspicion remains and is promoted in public. In our interdependent world, Europe has as much or more interest in influencing American decisions as we do in influencing yours. I greatly fear for all our futures if we cannot overcome these barren philosophical disputes. We are facing a crisis in the West where all our energies must be devoted to constructive cooperation. Domination is not the issue; survival is.

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6. I am also looking forward to our discussions when we meet in Brussels in December and later in Martinique.6 Warm regards. Henry A. Kissinger. End text.7

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 4, France—State Department Telegrams from SECSTATE–NODIS (1). Confidential; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Hartman, cleared by Enders and Sonnenfeldt, and approved by Kissinger.
  2. On October 23, Sauvagnargues wrote to Kissinger: “I wanted to let you know that the President of the Republic will mention, during his press conference tomorrow, the problem of energy, and will propose the convening of a conference grouping a certain number of states which produce oil and a certain number of industrial consumer states as well as certain non-industrial consumers. The President considers that it is indispensable to put the good will of the producing states to the test.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P820121–1459)
  3. On November 1, Sauvagnargues sent a message to Kissinger, informing him that he wanted Brunet to travel to Washington on November 3 to “make clear” the French “point of view.” (Telegram Tosec 459/240276 to Islamabad; ibid., Central Foreign Policy Files, D740312–0249) Kissinger responded that he was “concerned” about the French proposal, in both substance and timing, in that “it was announced without any prior consultation” with the United States. (Telegram Secto 363/4 from Isfahan, November 2; ibid., D740333–1058) Ingersoll reported that, in their November 5 meeting in Washington, Brunet began by giving him a “‘non-paper’ explaining French reasons for calling multilateral energy conference and its relationship to other aspects of an overall energy strategy,” and in subsequent oral points went “beyond earlier French presentations and in some cases appeared to be attempts to respond to initial US criticism.” (Telegram Tosec 717/243012 to Rome, November 5; ibid., D740316–0548)
  4. The November 6 speech included a section on U.S.-Soviet relations in which the French Foreign Minister said: “Recent history, moreover, has shown the limits of the June 22, 1973 agreement by which the United States and the USSR appear to have sought to arrogate to themselves a kind of right to arbitrate the difficulties of others. The super powers showed themselves powerless to prevent the outbreak of conflicts, including one which could have, and still can, by its consequences, endanger world peace.” (Telegram 26518 from Paris, November 8; ibid., D740321–0774) The U.S.-Soviet accord to which Sauvagnargues referred is the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War.
  5. At the December 10, 1973, session, Michel Jobert said that the June 22 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union “was of great concern to most of the countries represented in the Council,” and asked whether “it was necessary for this cooperation between two ‘adversary-partners’ automatically to take priority over consultation within the Atlantic Alliance.” Kissinger responded by accusing Jobert of misinterpreting the agreement and then repeated its provisions for clarification. He added that if Jobert continued to repeat his “erroneous” interpretation of the accord that it could not be “inadvertent.” (Telegram 14640 from London, December 12, 1973; ibid., [no film number])
  6. The NATO Foreign Ministers met in Brussels December 12–13, and Ford met with Giscard on the island of Martinique December 15–16.
  7. The Embassy delivered Kissinger’s letter on November 14. (Telegram 27112 from Paris, November 14; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 4, France—State Department Telegrams to SECSTATE–NODIS (1))