64. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia1

Secto 2018. For Ambassador from Secretary. Subj: Message from Secretary to Prince Fahd.2

1. Please deliver immediately following message from Secretary to Prince Fahd, during the morning of May 28; at same time you may show it to Yamani and seek his reaction and support.3

2. Begin text: Your Royal Highness: Since the preparatory meeting in Paris ended without success, I have, as I know you have, been giving much thought to how we could overcome the impasse. Today I made public in the IEA a proposal which I hope will relaunch the dialogue.4 It owes much to discussions which our associates have had together. I hope it will recommend itself to you.

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3. The first step, as I see it, would be to reconvene the preparatory meeting in the same format as before. The time could be relatively soon, certainly a matter of months as I see no reason for delay. I suggest that the format remain the same to avoid a tedious, non-productive negotiation over who would attend and what the rules of procedure might be. Clearly we have more important business to do than that.

4. The second step would be for the preparatory meeting to agree on the creation of a number of commissions to deal with the critical issues in relationships between developing and developed countries. Thus commissions might be set up for energy, for the problems of the most seriously affected nations, and for raw materials. Conceivably there would be others. Each commission would review all aspects of the problem assigned to it: including finance, investment, trade, and production.

5. The way in which each commission proceeds about its work would depend in considerable measure on the nature of work already being done in the field. For the most seriously affected, there is already much activity, and the commission’s role would be essentially to monitor, to supplement, and to orient that work, giving it the thrust and purpose it must have. The commission on raw materials would have a similar role. In the case of energy, since there is no existing international organization in which the basic questions are dealt with, the commission should also function as a means of addressing and resolving the underlying substantive issues.

6. In each case, I would envisage that the basic issues that have been raised be addressed. Under raw materials, for example, you would no doubt wish to raise the question of terms of trade. And we wish on our side to consider how adequate resources can be obtained for the development of raw materials and how in general raw material markets can be made to function more efficiently. Actual negotiations on commodities would remain the purview of already existing commodity groups such as for coffee, cocoa, tin.

7. Clearly we would want to limit membership in the commissions to assure their effectiveness. I think we both are anxious to avoid a new UNCTAD. In my speech today I suggested that we seek to limit the membership by applying objective criteria. For raw materials, for example, we could include those countries for which exports or imports for food and other non-oil raw materials constitute a certain minimum percentage of their total national product, and set that threshold high enough to keep the numbers within reason. We could do the same in energy. For the most seriously affected, we would have to seek another formula, one in which representative countries with the lowest capita income were chosen along with the traditional and new donors.

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8. This proposed approach, Your Royal Highness, has two origins. First, our own thinking within the American administration on raw materials and other issues of the relationship between developed and developing countries has been evolving over the last several months. I expressed some of the first implications of our new thinking in a speech at Kansas City two weeks ago.5 I will have something more to say about them tomorrow at the OECD meeting.

9. The second source is the realization that it would be difficult if not impossible to find a basis on which oil producers and consumers could discuss the new problems of energy without addressing the entire range of relationships between developed and developing countries.

10. My proposal is thus brought forward in a spirit of conciliation and innovation. In doing so, I do not think we should attempt to dictate too closely the timeframe of the work of the commissions—that they could work simultaneously or consecutively and might, depending on the difficulty of the task at hand, require a shorter or longer span of time—nor should we attempt to structure too precisely their relationship to each other. My intent, rather, is to find an approach which recognizes both the essential unity of the developing countries in seeking an improved relationship with the developed countries, and the great diversity of interests, forums, and subjects to be addressed.

11. I hope this approach will, as it is intended, meet many of the concerns that the Saudi representative at the Paris preparatory meeting expressed. I hope, Your Royal Highness, that you will find it possible to support this concept, so that we may soon relaunch the dialogue between developed and developing countries, including on the essential issue of energy. I know that that is your wish; I assure you that it is also our own. Warm regards. Henry A. Kissinger. End text.6

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P840126–2165. Confidential; Immediate; Nodis. Repeated Immediate to Washington. Kissinger was in Paris to attend the IEA and OECD Ministerial meetings.
  2. Kissinger sent similar messages to Algerian President Houari Boumediene (telegram Secto 2020 to Algiers, May 28; ibid., P840126–2160), Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ramon Escovar (telegram Secto 2017 to Caracas, May 28; ibid., P840126–2138), and Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Francisco Azerada da Silveira (telegram Secto 2023 to Brasilia, May 28; ibid., P840126–2150). The Secretary also sent a personal message to Yamani, in which he asked him to use his “enormous influence among the producers” to ensure that successful U.S. efforts to include “the subject of raw materials within the framework of a renewed consumer-producer dialogue” be “received affirmatively and in the same spirit of cooperation with which it was made.” (Telegram Secto 2046 from Brussels, May 30; ibid., P840126–2144)
  3. On May 31, Akins reported that he discussed the “new U.S. views and proposals on the preparatory conference of energy producers and consumers” with Fahd and Yamani. The Crown Prince “was pleased” but deferred “detailed comment” to Yamani, who said he was “immensely gratified,” remarking that the U.S. position “was now very close to the Saudi position.” (Telegram 3882 from Jidda, May 31; ibid., D750191–0508) Fahd formally responded to Kissinger with a letter on June 2, in which he wrote: “We support the necessity of a resumption of the preliminary meeting in Paris a second time and we consider that the objective of the meeting is an agreement on a schedule including the clauses that are agreed on for discussion.” (Telegram 4182 from Jidda, June 11; ibid., D750203–0276)
  4. The text of Kissinger’s statement at the May 27 IEA Ministerial meeting in Paris is in Department of State Bulletin, June 23, 1975, pp. 838–844. The IEA Ministers published a communiqué in which they “reiterated their determination that the Agency should contribute, as far as problems connected with energy were concerned, towards achievement” of a “regular and stable energy supply.” They further emphasized that solutions to “current economic problems” must be based on “the principles of inter-dependence of all countries, mutual support and shared responsibility, so that all countries, whatever their level of development, may be recognized as partners in the world economic system.” (Ibid., pp. 844–846) A description of the May 27 meeting is in telegram 13526 from USOECD Paris, May 27. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750185–0370)
  5. See Document 62.
  6. The telegram is unsigned. During a May 27 meeting, Kissinger, Giscard, and Sauvagnargues discussed a possible future energy conference. The Secretary said that “France should reconvene the preparatory conference under French chairmanship” and recommended that three commissions be established “to deal with energy, other raw materials, and the problems of developing countries,” all the while insisting that “energy must receive priority in emphasis over other raw materials.” He added that “he thought the U.S. and France could work together to make the conference a success” because there were “really no basic differences” between them. Sauvagnargues responded that “the goal of the conference at the next stage should not be so much to reach conclusions as to establish a structure for future discussions” and that such a meeting “should be global.” While Kissinger agreed, he re-emphasized that energy should have top priority. (Telegram 13581 from Paris, May 28; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P850061–1750)