267. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Valery Giscard d’Estaing, President of the French Republic
  • Jean Sauvagnargues, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Jean-Pierre Fourcade, Minister of Economy and Finance (Second Half)
  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • William Simon, Secretary of the Treasury (Second Half)
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs


  • Defense Cooperation; CSCE; F–104 Replacement; Monetary Issues

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]


Giscard: Let me turn to CSCE for a moment. I had a long talk with Brezhnev on this. I studied it before, and was not confident about our claims that the Basket III problems—education, information—I am not sure the thing can be solved this way. The same practical technical solution can be made without having to have the principle of free access. What irritates Brezhnev is the linking of inviolability of borders with peaceful change.

Kissinger: As I understand the German position, the sentence as written is okay if it follows the inviolability of frontiers. If it is in the section on security, then they want a change. I think it is absurd. No frontier will change on the basis of a sentence in a document.

Giscard: We did not commit ourselves to a summit meeting, but I said we would try to find a solution to the several problems. I don’t know why Brezhnev would like a summit in April …

Kissinger: He wants it before the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

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President: We had a 45-minute presentation by Gromyko on CSCE.2 We feel strongly about SALT. He went into great detail. On CSCE we think we must move in conjunction with our allies. We told them June–July.

Kissinger: We would prefer after the anniversary; they want a joint celebration. They want to reenact the meeting of American and Soviet troops on the Elbe. We have refused a celebration on German soil.

On the whole, we think it is better to end in May or June rather than April, but not to say that—just to conduct the negotiation so it works out that way.

Giscard: They think this is the final price of the war, and that is why they want it before May. It is for him the last price of détente also.

Kissinger: We could finish Phase II in April and announce it for June.

Giscard: We need to work it out with the allies …

Sauvagnargues: We did not enter into specific drafting on peaceful change.

Kissinger: The Soviets say you did. This is a case where consultation would help.

Sauvagnargues: We will give you the notes of the meeting.

Kissinger: If we just move so that Phase II ends in April.

Giscard: Yes, it would take at least a month to set it up. I asked Brezhnev how he envisaged the signature. He said he would speak five minutes. He is afraid of reopening the negotiations so he wants just a formal meeting.3

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 8. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place at the Hotel Meridien. Ford and Giscard d’Estaing met in Martinique December 14–15.
  2. See Document 247.
  3. In a meeting with Ambassador von Staden on December 18, Hartman summarized the outcome of the Franco-U.S. summit with regard to CSCE. He said that the “discussion of CSCE at Martinique had been brief and quite general. We had not proposed to the French the holding of a summit of the Western countries as we had suggested to German Foreign Minister Genscher. Mr. Hartman added that prior to the Martinique meeting, the Secretary had held a more detailed discussion about CSCE matters with French Foreign Minister Sauvagnargues.” (Memorandum of conversation, December 18; National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Entry 5339, Box 5, Germany, 1974) A memorandum of Kissinger’s conversation with Sauvagnargues on December 12 is ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P860133–2636.