308. Minutes of Senior Review Group Meeting1


  • U.S.-French Bilateral Issues: NSSM 166


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • William Porter
  • Wells Stabler
  • Richard Vine
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Lawrence Eagleburger
  • Charles Lloyd
  • JCS
  • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
  • Brig. Gen. Keith Christensen
  • CIA
  • Lt. Gen. Vernon B. Walters
  • [name not declassified]
  • Treasury
  • Jack F. Bennett
  • John Hart
  • ACDA
  • Philip Farley
  • CIEP
  • Peter Flanigan
  • NSC
  • B/Gen. Brent Scowcroft
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
  • William Hyland
  • Gerald Livingston
  • Robert Hormats
  • Jeanne W. Davis


1) Each agency will prepare a paper on what they consider the most important issues in U.S.-French bilateral relations for the President to discuss with President Pompidou.

[Page 942]

2) No major decisions will be made on these issues pending such a meeting.

Mr. Kissinger: I thought we might quickly run over some issues in U.S.-French bilateral relations prior to a possible Presidential meeting with Pompidou later in the year. Dick (Walters), can you give us five minutes worth?

(General Walters briefed from the attached text.)

Mr. Kissinger: Bill (Porter), do you have anything?

Mr. Porter: Well, we could run through the list. I wish we had the French reaction to your speech (Mr. Kissinger’s April 23 speech on Europe). That will reveal a great deal about their future attitudes.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: There was a long Figaro article this morning.

Gen. Walters: It’s hard to interpret. Some of it was government, some non-government.

Mr. Porter: The French may be getting ready for a tough negotiation. We had just supplied them with $8 million worth of soybeans and they issued a statement saying they can’t tolerate having the U.S. as a monopoly supplier. They’re showing their teeth. When we get our trade legislation we can straighten it out.

Mr. Kissinger: First they complain about neglect then they complain about solicitude.

Gen. Walters: The AP reports that the French reaction ranges from skepticism to hostility. (reading excerpts from ticker) They doubt it is acceptable to the French. Approach similar to that of JFK. Attempt to reduce resistance to the American presence in Europe.

Mr. Kissinger: Well, my speech is not the main substance of this meeting.

Mr. Porter: [less than 1 line not declassified] There are five or six categories of issues. We can discuss any one of them. None of them seem to have any particular emphasis that we should dwell on.

Mr. Kissinger: Basically we do want a serious dialogue with the French on how they might respond to an initiative. After the initial reaction, we will require exploration with the various countries on how we might work it out—get their specific ideas. I don’t believe the official French reaction will be as hostile as the press, although it may be on specific issues. The President has always had the idea of attempting to cooperate with the French if possible; to get away from the theological concept of cooperation versus confrontation. We will want to start a discussion with them in a forthcoming spirit. Where do we stand on various issues? The Defense talks on FRELOC, for example.

Mr. Clements: FRELOC is State’s.

Mr. Porter: We have an offer from them of $40 million. We had originally asked for $300 million. We have heard nothing from the new [Page 943] government and will have to probe again. We have let them know their offer was not forthcoming.

Adm. Moorer: Our previous discussions were with Debre. We will have to start all over.

Mr. Porter: We will invoke another offer. Then we will have to consult and decide whether to grab the dough and call it quits. Bill Clements is shaking his head.

Mr. Clements: Maybe we can get some considerations for this. Tom (Moorer) will be talking to Maurin (French Armed Forces Chief of Staff) tomorrow.

Adm. Moorer: I’ll be talking about a line of communication through the Bay of Biscay. I expect two or three days of talks. I’m told Maurin is more outgoing than his predecessor.

Mr. Kissinger: If we get a line of communication across France would we give up our claims?

Adm. Moorer: No. We’ll try to find out what their position is.

Gen. Walters: The new Defense Minister hasn’t been in long enough unless Pompidou has some strong views.

Mr. Clements: Claims are in the Foreign Ministry. Do they talk to each other?

Mr. Stabler: Sometimes we wonder.

Mr. Porter: The military told us where the Libyan Mirages were. The Quai had told us something different.

Mr. Clements: They may not talk about Mirages.

Adm. Moorer: We’ll talk about LOC, joint planning, nuclear policy, French Army relations with NATO.

Mr. Clements: We’ll pose the Mirage question unless you don’t want us to.

Mr. Kissinger: I have no objection.

Mr. Clements: We might also raise the Persian Gulf area.

Mr. Porter: (to Clements) We’ll be in touch with you on Mirage, etc. through other channels. We’ll give you something.

Mr. Kissinger: Isn’t the Persian Gulf question more one State should raise?

Mr. Clements: Could be.

Mr. Kissinger: What are we raising?

Mr. Porter: Supply of arms?

Mr. Clements: Yes, particularly in Oman.

Mr. Porter: They have a helluva strong export policy and it will take a helluva lot to stop them from selling planes.

Gen. Walters: [1½ lines not declassified]

[Page 944]

Mr. Kissinger: What is the implication of that?

Gen. Walters: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Porter: We have a number of things to discuss with them.

Mr. Kissinger: If this meeting has any point at all, let’s find out what those things are that we’re going to discuss.

Mr. Porter: The purpose of this meeting was not explained to me. We have no outstanding points. The issues are the same ones that are in the paper. Poseidon—Bill Clements knows all about that.

Mr. Kissinger: I don’t. Who’s asking?

Mr. Clements: The French are asking our military people. They want the same thing we give the British.

Adm. Moorer: The French are asking technical questions and we decide whether or not to give them the information.

Mr. Eagleburger: That’s discussed under another NSSM.

Mr. Kissinger: We’re not going to discuss nuclear policy with the Chief of Staff until we get the work on NSSM 175.

Mr. Eagleburger: No.

Adm. Moorer: This has nothing to do with technical assistance.

Mr. Flanigan: There is one question in that area—the degree to which we want to discuss centrifuge enrichment technology with them. The President offered to share some technology with them and the French and Germans are working together. But we should not offer to share centrifuge technology on which we are significantly ahead. We shouldn’t do what we did in aerospace and earlier diffusion technology.

Mr. Kissinger: When does the issue come up?

Mr. Flanigan: I’ll put in a paper for the Pompidou briefing book, unless there’s a debate on our position.

Mr. Kissinger: There’s one issue Pompidou is bugging us on—GE/SNECMA.

Mr. Flanigan: We’re waiting for an Air Force paper which should be available within a week for discussion in the interagency group. If the proposed compromise is acceptable, we should have a forthcoming position.

Mr. Kissinger: We need some paper geared to the President’s meeting with Pompidou so we know what we’re aiming for.

Mr. Porter: That’s easy.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s prepare for that. Each agency should do something on what are the most important issues for the President to take up with Pompidou. What do we fundamentally want from the French for a meeting now and a trip to Europe in the fall. This suggests that no major decisions should be made unilaterally before the end of May or whenever they meet.

[Page 945]

Mr. Clements: The Chief of Staff will be in the Pentagon tomorrow. We could pursue LOC.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s a technical issue—that’s okay. But you should convey a sense of cooperation rather than hostility.

Mr. Flanigan: We’re also coming to negotiations with the European Community on what we should get for the expansion of the Community. That could set the tone for negotiations in the fall. We might have a CIEP meeting prior to the end of May.

Mr. Kissinger: That would be desirable.

  1. Summary: The Senior Review Group considered the study prepared in response to NSSM 166, Review of U.S.-French Bilateral Issues.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–113, SRG Minutes (Originals) 1972–1973 (3 of 4). Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Attached but not published is Walters’ briefing text, an April 23 paper entitled “Franco-American Relations.” In his briefing, Walters predicted that the recent easing of U.S.-French tensions would continue, but cautioned that some U.S.-French differences would remain, particularly regarding the U.S. role both in Europe and the world. The papers requested at this meeting were sent to Kissinger under cover of a May 11 memorandum from Eliot. (Ibid., Box H–195, Study Memorandums, 1969–1974, NSSM–166)