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78. Memorandum From the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter 1


  • 1978 Summit

This week Dick Cooper, Tony Solomon, and I hold our first meeting to prepare for your 1978 Summit.2 We will be searching for new initiatives. The more important question, however, is that of purpose and strategy. This memorandum outlines my current thinking, and solicits your guidance.

On the economic front, the Summit’s purpose is clear: to concert policies of the industrial countries in order to overcome stagflation in the industrial world and promote growth in LDCs. We can devise a strategy to this end.

But the Summit is also a political exercise—designed to strengthen relations among industrial countries. These relations are now affected by a variety of problems—political and security, as well as economic—which are treated in separate fora: NATO Foreign Ministers, US-Japanese bilateral talks, etc. But the problems interact, and there is no place where they are discussed as a whole and at a high political level. This should be the function of the Summit.

To this end, I am writing my German opposite member, suggesting that the next Summit leave time for the heads of government to discuss the overall state of the trilateral relationship, as a specific agenda item. I am also suggesting that the Summit Preparatory Group address the same issue.

The Japanese and Europeans are used to dealing bilaterally with the US about non-economic issues. This made sense in the 1950s, when [Page 247]Japan and Europe were still weak; it no longer makes sense in the 1970s. The private sector’s awareness of this change is reflected in the Trilateral Commission, whose recent meeting in Bonn focused on both economic and non-economic issues.3 It is time for us to edge the Summit toward increasing trilateral discussion of the political, as well as economic, aspects of relations among the industrial regions.4

If you have any reactions that you wish me to take into account in Summit planning, please let me know.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 64, Summits: 5-12/77. Confidential. Sent for information. A stamped notation reads: “The President has seen,” and Carter wrote at the top of the page: “Henry—o.k. We’ll have a good agenda re non prolif—SALT III—how Mid East peace was achieved, etc. J.C.”
  2. No memorandum of conversation of this meeting was found. Lake and Hormats each sent a memorandum to Cooper on their thoughts about the Summit. (Memorandum from Lake to Cooper, November 21, and memorandum from Hormats to Cooper, November 28; both National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, 1978–1980 Files Pertaining to International Monetary Affairs, OECD, Documents, External Research, Etc., Lot 81D145, Box 2, Current) Ernest Johnston, Cooper’s Executive Assistant, forwarded the memoranda to Owen and Solomon on November 30. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Special Projects, Henry Owen, Box 24, Summit: Bonn: 5/77–2/78)
  3. See footnote 5, Document 65.
  4. Brzezinski highlighted the final four lines of this paragraph beginning with the phrase “whose recent meeting in Bonn” and wrote “I very much agree. ZB.”