185. Letter From Chairman Kosygin to President Johnson1

Dear Mr. President:

We have carefully studied your message transmitted by Ambassador L. Thompson.2

Your words about what great importance you attach to the improvement of relations between our two countries cannot but meet with a favorable response on our part. The confidential exchange of views through the communication channels mentioned in your message3 is undoubtedly useful both from the standpoint of a search for possible ways for a solution to certain international questions and from the standpoint of at least a better understanding of the positions of both sides on various problems.

As to the question referred to in your message regarding the possibility of reaching an understanding between us which would contain the strategic armaments race, the Soviet Government has always advocated and still advocates the curtailment of a race regarding any and all armaments. We are deeply convinced that a real guarantee of peace and actual means of strengthening national and international security can be provided only by concrete steps in the field of disarmament, including nuclear, rather than by a desire to solidify some “balance of power”—which in any case each side understands in its own way.

Proceeding from this understanding of the problem, we are prepared to continue the exchange of views on questions relating to strategic rocket-nuclear weapons. As we understand it, you are in agreement with our view that such questions must be considered as a complex, including both offensive strategic nuclear delivery systems and systems of defense against ballistic missiles.

Certain additional considerations of the Soviet side regarding an approach to a solution of these questions are being transmitted through Ambassador Thompson.4 Nor do we exclude the possibility of holding in the future, as you suggest, a special meeting of our appropriate representatives for a more detailed discussion of this entire problem.

Naturally, much more favorable conditions for businesslike consideration of this as well as other problems of mutual interest would be [Page 451] created if the situation in the world as a whole were normalized and above all such hotbeds of tension as that in Vietnam were liquidated. In this connection, one would like to think that the hope expressed by you that peace will return to our planet will be supported by appropriate practical action on your part.


A. Kosygin 5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Box 11, Arms Control Messages Exchanged Between President Johnson and Chairman, USSR, Vol. 1, Box 11. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 178.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 178.
  4. See Document 186.
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.