21. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • American Side
  • President Nixon
  • Dr. Henry Kissinger
  • Alec Toumayan (Notetaker)
  • French Side
  • President Pompidou
  • Mr. Andronikoff (Notetaker)


  • Year of Europe; Economic Relations

President Nixon: I thought before going into the monetary and economic matters, where I want you to take the lead, Mr. President, that we could spend a few minutes about where we stand on the last item we discussed this morning. Without commiting anyone to any action or schedule, our interests are the same as you said. And could you agree that first there could be some private exchanges between Dr. Kissinger and Jobert on your side—and it would be Egon Bahr and Trend—and after these exploratory talks each would report to each of the four of us on the different views presented?

Mr. Kissinger: In greater detail and without deciding the outcome of the procedure, existing negotiations would continue in the existing forums, and this group we set up would look formally into new measures and new initiatives among the four. Later on, in July perhaps, the deputy foreign ministers of all nations could meet to see how a general set of principles could be formulated, leaving open either to have a summit or not.

President Nixon: If and when we will have a summit.

President Pompidou: The first is to reply to my question as to what is the purpose of all this. This being said, you mentioned Bahr, Jobert,

[Page 105]

Kissinger, Trend, but you cannot hope that these four men who enjoy the same degree of closeness to their respective chiefs of states, though with different administrative status, can meet without it being known and people asking why. They can’t all come down simultaneously with the gout and all be taking the waters at the spa. How can you explain that these four men are meeting and why? Dr. Kissinger likes to travel; he could see them one after another. But I don’t see how you could put all four men together now as being individuals. And people will say “what’s up?” This would be detrimental to what we seek to attain and I feel that separate conversations would have the same result. You have close ties with the UK and with us and with the FRG. You can exchange views and see what outcome is possible. If not a summit, perhaps another meeting or a major declaration. I see no need for an unusual procedure, by which I mean not going outside embassy channels but having the appearance of a highly normal appearance.

President Nixon: The problem with Mr. Kissinger going around is twofold. First, it is an American initiative, and we feel it should spring from all Europe, and it comes after meetings at the highest level with Heath, Pompidou, Brandt. Concerning the goal, we should not be too precise. Some have said charter, but this preempts our rights and our responsibilities as chiefs of state to make a decision. I see exploratory talks which follow up consultations on the highest level which have taken place over the past few months. In each case agreement was reached, first that our interests are the same—you have said it, Heath and Brandt had said it too. The only difference of opinion is how best to serve the interest and the new Europe, the differences economically, and as we take a hard look at our security arrangements with respect to new developments in the world. Finally, as to presenting a goal, there is a need at this time for a new reevaluation of the Alliance on security and economic matters. Through these exploratory talks we seek to obtain the best thinking of all to carry forward in a constructive way after the bilateral exchanges.

Mr. Kissinger: In your basic outline in your report to Congress and in your speech which you asked me to give, you asked for some aim by the end of 1973 leaving open the question of whether to hold a summit or other forum. The aim being a general declaration of principles to guide us over the next few years. We look for procedures, and the deputy foreign ministers of all the nations could be guided by the exchanges that took place between the four.

President Pompidou: I will say only one word on the aim. I don’t say those have not changed. It is essential that improvements of the alliance in or out of NATO must face up to the communist threat so the wording of the aim must remain vague. Concerning the methods, I suggest that Mr. Kissinger travel because he likes to. It is, after all, an [Page 106] American initiative, not French or FRG. But we can do it another way. Mr. Kissinger has to go back to Paris and could schedule another meeting on the occasion and make a stopover in London. Bahr can come to London and I will ask Jobert to go to Washington if you think it would be useful. But putting all four men together would be a problem because they do not have the same functions and it would look too much like a special event.

President Nixon: In response to your proposal I suggest that this can be worked out. Mr. Kissinger and I will contact the other three, have extended talks, and they will report back to the four of us. Thus we will avoid the problems of a mini-summit that I know you want to avoid. Concerning the aims, although there should be no charter, it is important to recognize France’s new economic position and the new position should be discussed, so we should not limit our representatives to talking about the future of the alliance but about the future of each member and how they can best work together on a whole range of ideas.

There is talk in the U.S. of a confrontation between Europe and the U.S. There will be competition, yes, but if there is confrontation, if we do not come to an agreement on trade and monetary matters, this will not only destroy economic matters, it will destroy the alliance. I look forward to hearing your views, but it is important if we look at the aim to take the long and comprehensive view.

Mr. Kissinger: One more word on procedure. A number of negotiations are in progress. We are making a presentation to the DPC of NATO on general considerations, and a number of other economic discussions will continue in their present format. At one point we can merge all this and the deputy foreign ministers can see how to work on this and into a declaration of principles. Perhaps in a formal meeting of the alliance.

President Pompidou: Yes, in the NAC, where the deputy foreign ministers can easily gather. As for the Reykjavik declaration, it can include such a reference.

Mr. Kissinger: With that or an ad hoc meeting so that economic matters can be put on the agenda.

President Nixon: I have thought, as I know you have, about the future of the alliance. On the security aspect, I would like some direct correspondence between us. Of course, Mr. Kissinger will echo my views. I would like also some correspondence with Heath and Brandt so that when I come to Europe, in the fall I hope, we can talk over all this again.

[Omitted here is discussion of economic relations.]

  1. Summary: Pompidou, Nixon, and Kissinger discussed the Year of Europe.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member & Office Files, President’s Office Files, Memoranda for the President, Box 91, Beginning May 27 (1973). Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place in Kjarvalsstadir. The remainder of this memorandum of conversation, which reports the discussion on economic relations, is printed as Document 41 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, 1973–1976. On June 8 Kissinger and Jobert met in Paris, where they discussed the fall-out of the Reykjavik summit, a Year of Europe declaration, and next steps in the Year of Europe. (Memorandum of conversation, June 8; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 56, Country Files, Europe, General, French Exchanges—Sensitive, 1973 (RN))