347. Editorial Note
Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko met with President Nixon in the Oval Office from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on September 29, 1971. The President was accompanied by Secretary of State Rogers and Henry Kissinger; Gromyko by Ambassador Dobrynin. During their discussion the principals touched on trade-related matters. During his opening discussion of bilateral relations, Gromyko said there were certain signs, some barely discernible, that bilateral economic ties were developing favorably. Gromyko said the position of the U.S. Government in this regard was not clear to the Soviet side, and requested the President’s comments on the subject, “being aware, Mr. Gromyko hoped, of its full significance for the relations between our two countries.”
In his reply the President said: “With reference to trade, the Foreign Minister would recall that last year the President had said this was an area where there were great possibilities for progress. Just this week he had approved the $200 million Kama River project, a sum that brought the total up to $400 million. It was his view that trade was in the interests of both our countries and when we made efforts to expand it, we were really acting in our own selfish interest. American businessmen were interested in greater trade between us and indeed, this was an area where reduced tensions between us would pay the greatest dividends. [Page 878] It was something the Soviet side wanted and so did we. The Minister would find us receptive to any initiative in this respect.”
As the meeting concluded, Gromyko returned to economic relations, noted the President’s remarks, and said he “wanted to propose that the President send some representative he considers appropriate to Moscow for the purpose of exchanging views on this subject.” The President said he had this in mind; there were several officials who wanted to go and he would have to select the right person. The President concluded by saying that one of the obstacles to expanding trade was the war in Southeast Asia, which was winding down. “As it ended, some of the technical and political objections to expanded trade with the Soviet Union which were being raised in this country would be removed. Once the war ended, all sorts of doors would be opened. He did not expect Mr. Gromyko to comment at this time, but wanted him to know the U.S. position.” The 12-page memorandum of their conversation is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, President’s Trip Files, Box 492, Dobrynin/HAK 1971, Volume 7, Part 1.
Henry Kissinger met with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin on October 4 at 3 p.m. in the White House Map Room. His memorandum of the conversation reads in part: “Dobrynin remarked that the Soviet Union was very eager to start the trade negotiations that Gromyko had mentioned to the President. I said we had not yet decided whether to send Secretary Stans or Peter Peterson, but in any event we would send somebody with a very wide charter and with a constructive attitude. It was not clear, however, what the Soviet Union was prepared to discuss. Dobrynin said the Soviet Union was prepared to discuss all the issues, that is, long-range economic policy including possibly Most-Favored-Nation status, and it was prepared to settle some of the outstanding American claims including some going back to World War II. I said we would be in touch with the Soviet Union by the end of October.” (Ibid.)