136. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Message to You from President Pompidou Regarding French Plane Deal with Libya

Ambassador Lucet has presented an oral message to you2 from President Pompidou to the effect that the French contract with Libya for the sale of military aircraft has now been completed and that it will involve 100 planes rather than the 50 reported in the press. Among the types to be sold are Mirage fighters—though not the latest models—as well as reconnaissance and training aircraft. Deliveries are to begin this year with four trainers and then continue through 1974. [Page 492]President Pompidou wanted you to know about this privately so that you do not learn of it through leaks or indirectly.

I thanked the Ambassador for this confidential information and for his President’s courtesy in giving it to you. In the ensuing discussion, Lucet argued that the French decision to proceed was based largely on the premise that if they did not sell the planes the Soviets would. I pointed out that the timing was unfortunate because it would raise pressures on us to sell more planes to the Israelis and because of the closeness of Pompidou’s visit here. Lucet said they had written the contract so as to preclude the use of the planes against Israel but he agreed that there could be little assurance on this score.

I believe the French decision is firm and that there is little to be gained from further expressions of concern. Our misgivings have been clear.

If you approve, I will convey no further response to Lucet beyond what I have already said to him about your appreciating the information and the problems we had with the transaction.

Recommendation3

No further response required.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 676, Country Files—Europe, France, Vol. IV. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action.
  2. A memorandum of conversation of the meeting during which Lucet gave the message to Kissinger is ibid.
  3. The President initialed his approval on January 22. In a January 21 memorandum to the President, Kissinger reported that Lucet had provided information that 108 aircraft were involved. (Ibid.)