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

139949. Subject: Message for Sauvagnargues.

1. Please transmit the following message to Foreign Minister Sauvagnargues at earliest convenience:

“Dear Jean:

A representative from your Embassy here was in touch with us last Monday2 concerning your concept of moving directly to an enlarged Ministerial meeting of 27 countries as a means of relaunching the dialogue on energy, commodities, and other development issues. Since then I have had a report of the conversation between Messrs. Froment-Meurice3 and Robinson.

I have given your concept considerable thought. In order to enable us to proceed in close cooperation I thought it might be helpful if I put our own thoughts before you.

I recognize your desire to build on the discussions at Kleber in April,4 but wonder if there was really sufficient agreement to do so. There was only a tentative understanding on a 26 or 27 member group, and on its division between energy producing countries, developing countries, and industrial countries. The whole was at that time conditioned on agreement on an agenda, and on such contentious issues as the status of the International Energy Agency observers. To attempt now through bilateral contacts to establish a basis for agreement on who the 27 would be, on the representation of the Agency, and on what the 27 would do strikes me as an impossibly difficult task.

But even if it could succeed, I believe there would be a real question as to its utility. An enlarged conference of this type would be tempted to get into the substance of issues, and to try to set up some way of leveraging issues one against the other. A large conference would be tempted to perpetuate itself, subordinating the commissions to its governance. We could thus have all too easily a mini-UN and the ingredients for a new failure.

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It seems to me far more prudent to build on Kleber by reconvening the preparatory conference in the same format. After all, the 10 participants agreed that they were not ending their effort, but only suspending it. Although not free of controversy, this forum has the merit of existing; participants in it could very probably agree to reconvene it with a minimum of negotiation.

I recognize the point that has been made to us by many of the producing countries that legitimacy of commissions created by only 10 countries might be contested, notably by developing countries that did not participate in Kleber. To overcome that point, which I believe valid, the correct solution would appear to be that proposed by Yamani: To use the preparatory meeting to agree on the whole process, the membership of the commissions, their terms of reference, their status vis-à-vis each other, and then to convene a 1 or 2 day meeting of Foreign Ministers to launch them.

A further point that has been raised by some, that there should be an arrangement for the commissions to report back, seems to me to have much less force. Countries that are concerned that the work of the commissions should proceed more or less at the same pace, can satisfy themselves that this is so by arrangements for the commission chairmen to report to each other the progress of their work. But to report back to the enlarged Ministerial meeting would suppose that the Ministerial meeting would have to be held again, and that it will have to deal with substantive issues. I do not think we should commit ourselves now to such a substantive membership meeting at Ministerial level.

Please let me know your thoughts on this issue,5 as I think that there is a strong advantage to both of us to remain in close harmony as the dialogue develops. I hope in any event to see you soon.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to a producer-consumer conference.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 4, France—State Department Telegrams from SECSTATE–NODIS (3). Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Enders and approved by Kissinger.
  2. June 9.
  3. Henri Froment-Meurice, Chief of the Asian Division of the French Foreign Ministry.
  4. The Kléber Conference Center in Paris, where the April 7–15 Prepcon took place.
  5. The French Embassy delivered Sauvagnargues’s reply to Kissinger on June 23. The Foreign Minister wrote that France had “no preconceived idea” regarding procedure and was “prepared to support what will be likely to receive general approval in conditions suited not only to ensure the resumption, but above all to guarantee the pursuit and continuation, of the dialogue.” However, he added, he was “thoroughly convinced of the need for an approach that is both global and differentiated.” On the subject of establishing “three committees of actually unequal status whose results could no longer be compared,” he did not think the formula would “receive the approval of the developing countries which will inevitably interpret it in terms of priority for energy.” Furthermore, in terms of the conference’s composition, he argued that Kissinger’s “reasoning against the 27 formula is equally applicable to the 10 formula.” (Telegram 151916 to Cairo, June 27; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P850036–2564)