23. Message From French Foreign Minister Jobert to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Dear Friend:

Let me first thank you for the courtesies you extended to me at San Clemente and for all your kind attention, which I found very touching, knowing as I do the true sentiment of friendship which accompanied it. Please also tell President Nixon how interested I was in the conversation I had with him. Please also extend my best wishes to him, particularly at this moment [reference to illness].

I do not yet know if I will have the pleasure of seeing you in the coming days in Europe, but I think it may be useful for you personally if I indicate, as I promised to do, my reactions to the two documents you gave to me in San Clemente.

Several days have passed since our meeting. In many ways they have added a new dimension and some added preoccupations to the concerns we discussed and to those broader issues which you outlined in your April 23 speech. This means that many paragraphs in the two documents that I just mentioned strike a somewhat false note at the present juncture.

I am very reluctant to have to respond to you in this manner. I would have been tempted, at first, to make “fierce” comments, as you might say, which you would have expected, but I will not do so, not wishing to embarrass you at a time when I know that you have given these documents to most of our partners. However, we are far from having made a complete judgment—although, as you anticipated, the State Department document, which is less generous than yours, seems to me to be also more prudent.

I honestly feel that it would be better not to undertake the steps you propose except on bases more acceptable to us, and globally less ambitious, taking into account what each nation can accept and the present situation, which, as I told you, is preoccupying and darkens the perspectives that your documents describe.

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I do not now want to begin what could be a polemic, for I would find one irritating. But let me out of friendship advise you to engage in the bilateral talks you desire with more realistic documents.

I could, it is true, translate in my way, that is by a text, the sense of realism that is acceptable. To do this, I fear, might embarrass you, and, on reflection, I feel it better that we remain silent.

My feeling, which I must convey to you in the very interest of your propositions, is that you cannot, either here or elsewhere, gain a truly sincere acceptance of these texts which you had the kindness to give me.

Please accept the assurance of my best wishes.

Michael Jobert
  1. Summary: Jobert discussed the next steps in the Year of Europe.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 56, Country Files, Europe, General, French Exchanges—Sensitive, 1973 (RN). No classification marking. All brackets are in the original. Forwarded, along with the original French text of the message, to Kissinger under cover of a July 16 memorandum from Sonnenfeldt, in which Sonnenfeldt recorded the meeting during which a French Embassy official delivered the message to Kissinger. Kissinger initialed Sonnenfeldt’s memorandum.