25. Message From British Prime Minister Heath to President Nixon1

Dear Mr. President,

It was most helpful to us to receive your latest message of 18 July in advance of the Ministerial Meeting of the Nine in Copenhagen on 23 July. As you know I fully share your concern that Atlantic relations need to be put on a firm basis for the future.

The meeting in Copenhagen had to be brief because the Ministers had to go on to Brussels for a delayed meeting of the Council in the afternoon. But some progress was made and I think you can be reasonably confident that we shall be able to give you further good news after the next Ministerial meeting on 10/11 September.

Alec Douglas-Home was determined to get the meeting to decide that if you come to Europe in the autumn the Nine (in one form or another) will be ready to meet you, in addition to whatever may be arranged in the North Atlantic Council. In this he was successful and the decision is recorded in the agreed (unpublished) conclusions of the meeting.

Secondly, the Ministers decided (and announced) that:—

(A) They have charged their Political Committee with working on a paper on the European identity which will serve as a basis for the constructive dialogue which they wish to carry on with the United States; and

(B) To ask the Political Committee to prepare—before the next meeting in Copenhagen on 10/11 September—a report which should deal with subjects that could usefully, in the shorter term, be taken up in such a dialogue.

From what was said at the meeting I think that it ought to be possible for us to ensure that the report at (B) also deals with the kind of thing which might be included in a communiqué or declaration to emerge from your meeting with the Nine.

We learn from the Germans and the Italians that you have been considering the possibility that, in addition to a meeting of the Atlantic Council and another with the Nine, there might be a summit meeting of [Page 113] the 15 plus Ireland. The French have said categorically that they are opposed to any such summit, even in Paris, and Alec Douglas-Home tells me that most of those who spoke on the subject yesterday tended to see great difficulties. In the circumstances it is my judgment that you would be unlikely to succeed if you pressed this proposal, although it is of course for you to decide. We will do our best to ensure that Foreign Ministers are present, not only in the Atlantic Council but at the meeting of the Nine as well.

There is one other point which I should mention. We have, of course, said absolutely nothing to our partners in the Nine about Kissinger’s meetings with Trend and Brimelow. There is however a strong ground-swell of opposition by the smaller countries to bilateralism between the larger European countries and the United States. The French have been exploiting our failure to keep our partners informed. The Nine ministers have now decided that they will exchange the information which they obtain in the framework of bilateral conversations with the U.S. and try to harmonise their reactions with regard to possible suggestions of the U.S. I think that we shall stand the best chance of achieving the success which you and I both want if we ourselves are now seen to adhere to this decision as regards the present exercise. To do so will improve the chances of an orderly response by the Nine in the autumn. We will include among our aims at the 10/11 September meeting to set up an orderly procedure for European/American discussion of the text to emerge from your meeting with the Nine.

As for a text to emerge from the Alliance, I think that this will inevitably have to be prepared in the ordinary framework of the North Atlantic Council. Because not all members of the Nine are members of the Alliance and some Europeans are members of the Alliance but not of the Nine, we cannot carry the two exercises forward in the same forum or at the same pace.

Trend and Brimelow will be ready to discuss these and other problems when they visit Kissinger next week.

With warm personal regards,

Yours sincerely,

Edward Heath
  1. Summary: Heath briefed Nixon on the July 23 EC Foreign Ministers meeting in Copenhagen.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 431, Backchannel, Hotlines (all circuits) PRESUS IN/OUT thru Aug. 9, 1974. Secret; Immediate; Sensitive. In message WH31855 to Heath, July 18, Nixon urged the importance of a renewed expression of Western solidarity. (Ibid.)