51. Telegram 44480 From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Federal Republic of Germany1

Subject: Presidential letter to Chancellor Brandt. For Ambassador Hillenbrand.

1. Please deliver following letter from President to Chancellor Brandt. After you have delivered it, we intend to send text eyes only to our Ambassadors in the Nine for their info only and to be drawn on as guidance. Public posture is to remain strictly in terms of line used by Vest at noon briefing. (See septel.)

2. Begin text: Dear Mr. Chancellor: Secretary Kissinger has informed me of his discussion with Foreign Minister Scheel, acting as Chairman of the EC Council, concerning the decision of the Nine to move forward with a program of broad cooperation with the Arab world.

I want to give you my frank reaction to this new development on a question of major importance to the United States.

First of all, the procedures by which the Nine have reached a major decision once again point up the deficiencies in consultations between the United States and Europe. On a matter of such broad concern, affecting not only the prospects of peace in the Middle East but the economic future in Europe as well as the United States, we would have expected the opportunity for intimate prior consultations. Rather we have had, at best, little information, inadequate discussions and practically no opportunity for the United States to make its views known to our closest Allies. Once again we seem to be drifting in the direction of dealing with each other more as adversaries than as partners. This is hardly consistent with Alliance relationships.

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In light of this latest example of our inability to achieve some meaningful consultative relationship with the Nine, I have instructed the Secretary of State to review the status of our discussions on a declaration with the EC Nine, including the draft given to Secretary Kissinger in Brussels, in order to determine if our discussions in this context can be used to get at this basic problem in our relationship.

This review will make necessary the postponement of the meeting next week between the Political Directors and Messrs. Sonnenfeldt and Hartman. Secretary Kissinger will be in touch with Minister Scheel when our internal discussions have progressed further.

As for the substance of the EC program, in principle the United States naturally has no objection to the concept of developing a long-term relationship between the Nine and the Arab world. But we cannot ignore the fact that this initiative comes at an extremely delicate stage in the negotiations for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. One can only speculate whether the decision of the Nine will add difficulties to this process: at a minimum, as Secretary Kissinger tried to explain in Bonn, the Europeans must recognize that in their meetings with the Arab States, they will be confronted with political proposals to define the EC’s position on questions and issues in the peace settlement.

Moreover, it would seem likely that the Europeans pursuing such an initiative on their own at this time will inevitably fall into a competitive position vis-à-vis the United States—it is this competition we have sought to avoid by working together in the Energy Coordinating Group. If the governments of the Nine are determined to proceed, then it seems to me at the very least that we should arrange a system of close consultation and coordination in order to attempt to avoid the pitfalls which I see in our moving ahead on separate courses.

I believe by making such arrangements on a practical and significant policy issue, we could demonstrate the relevance and validity of the principles we are seeking to articulate in the USEC declaration.

I thought it best to give you my views as frankly as possible and would welcome your reaction in the same spirit. You are, of course, free to convey these views to your colleagues. With warm regards, Sincerely, Richard Nixon.

End text.

  1. Summary: The Department forwarded a letter from Nixon on the EC-Arab initiative for delivery to Brandt.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 754, Presidential Correspondence, Germany, Willy Brandt 1972 (1 of 3). Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information to Bangkok. Drafted by Hartman; cleared by Sonnenfeldt, Kissinger for the White House, and Gammon in S/S; and approved by Kissinger. Brandt’s reply, sent to Nixon under cover of a March 9 letter from Chargé d’Affaires Hans Noebel, regretted the U.S. decision to postpone the EC declaration discussions. Brandt expressed surprise at the U.S. reaction to the EC-Arab initiative, which he characterized “as a supporting and by no means competitive undertaking to” U.S. efforts to achieve Middle East peace and the international energy talks; Brandt noted that the EC démarche to Arab countries accounted for “American misgivings about a conference of Foreign Ministers.” Citing EC agreement on “the need for timely, full and mutual information,” Brandt concluded by pledging to work within the EC to develop means “for the timely co-ordination of important matters of mutual interest.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 61, Country Files, Europe, General, German Exchange (1 of 3))