181. Editorial Note

In a November 18, 1978, memorandum to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, discussed a forthcoming telephone conversation that Carter was to have with French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (see Document 180). Brzezinski noted that there were two issues to be discussed: the U.S. approval of France’s desire to sell Framatone nuclear reactors to the People’s Republic of China and France’s position on the multilateral trade negotiations (MTN). Brzezinski advised Carter to link the two issues, “coupling the good news to Giscard about the nuclear re [Page 543] actor issue with a request that he play as helpful a role as possible in moving us toward the MTN outcome we desire by the December 15 deadline.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 37, Memcons: President: 11/78) Special Representative for Economic Summits Henry Owen also urged this course on Carter in a separate memorandum, also dated November 18. (Ibid.)

In a November 21 memorandum to Brzezinski, National Security Council Staff member Robert Hunter discussed Carter’s telephone conversation with Giscard, which had taken place that morning. Hunter reported that Carter “did not follow the suggested scenario” of linking the nuclear reactor sale and the trade negotiations, noting that Carter “went straight to MTN, and got an essentially negative response from Giscard.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 23, France: 1–12/78)

Owen reported to Carter on November 22 that the EC Council of Ministers had decided on November 21 “by a vote of eight to one that the European Commission would try to complete negotiations with the US and others by December 15, which is just what we wanted. The French objected but did not block action. The issue will come up again at the EC Summit December 4–5. Giscard could try to block action there if he wished, depending on how much he was moved by your call. We will be trying to figure out what additional actions we can take to influence the outcome of this December meeting.” Carter initialed Owen’s memorandum. (Memorandum from Owen to Carter, November 22; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 23, France: 1–12/78)

In a November 28 memorandum to Carter, Owen urged Carter to telephone West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt before the December 4–5 meeting of the EC Council in order to discuss France’s position on the multilateral trade negotiations. Owen wrote: “Up to this point Schmidt has not wanted to use his capital with Giscard on MTN, since he thought that the US could bring Giscard around. It is important that he realize this hasn’t worked, and that it’s now up to him to persuade the French. Our ambassadors in Europe believe that he has the influence to do so, if he wants to. He will likely want to if he believes there is no other way to save MTN—and if he realizes that collapse of MTN could affect wider US-European relations.” Owen noted that the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations, the Department of State, and the Department of the Treasury all concurred in his recommendation. Carter disapproved Owen’s recommendation, writing on the memorandum: “Draft message instead.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 28, Hotline: Germany: 4/77–11/80) On December 2, Carter sent a message to Schmidt, urging him to speak to Giscard about the MTN. (Message WH81566 [Page 544] from Carter to Schmidt, December 2; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 14, Germany F R: 11/78–2/79)

The EC Council did not take up the issue of the multilateral trade negotiations during its meetings on December 4 and 5, but postponed discussion to a special Council meeting “in the near future.” (Telegram 23036 from USEC Brussels, December 6; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780502–0924)