16. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1
- Secretary of State’s Meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko
I discussed with Secretary Rogers and Assistant Secretary Sisco 2 the contents of Secretary Rogers’ discussion with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko in New York, on Friday, October 16. Essentially the discussion revolved around the Middle East, Indochina, SALT, Berlin, and Seabeds was touched upon very briefly.
- —Gromyko dwelt primarily on the lack of Soviet responsibility for alleged violations of the ceasefire, insisting that the Soviet Union was not responsible, in that they had never agreed to the ceasefire.
- —Secretary Rogers held firm to the thesis that the Soviet Union had in fact been completely aware of the provisions of the ceasefire and were thus responsible along with the UAR for the violations which occurred. The Secretary insisted that some rectifications of the cease-fire violations were essential, but the Secretary reports that no one changed their minds on this point, although it was agreed that the issue would be pursued further during discussions to be held on Monday, October 19.
- —Gromyko proposed that the U.S. overlook past difficulties and proceed on the following basis: Extension of the ceasefire for a limited period; resumption of talks under Jarring’s auspices; resumption of U.S.–USSR bilateral and continuation of Four Power talks.
- —Both Secretary Rogers and Foreign Minister Gromyko appeared to be in agreement that public debate at the United Nations Plenary Session on the Middle East issue would probably be counterproductive.
—The discussion on Berlin was largely inconclusive, with Secretary Rogers taking exception to the hard line adopted by the Soviets on this issue.[Page 55]
—Although the discussion was minimal, both sides commented favorably on the renewal of the talks and expressed hope that progress would be achieved.3
- —Secretary Rogers pointed out that worldwide reaction to your peace proposals had been unanimously favorable; that U.S. domestic opinion was united and favorable, and he expressed disappointment at the rejection of your proposals by the other side.
- —Foreign Minister Gromyko responded by pressing the Secretary on the issue of whether or not the U.S. would agree to a coalition government in South Vietnam, suggesting that if the U.S. were to agree to a coalition then the Russians would be more helpful.
- —Secretary Rogers rejected Hanoi’s interpretation of a coalition government as a requirement that Hanoi oust the present leaders of South Vietnam and, in effect, define the composition of the government. At the same time he reiterated your position that we would abide by an agreed settlement arrived at by both sides, whatever its outcome.
The discussions were described as not unfriendly, and were businesslike, frank and straightforward. However, Gromyko showed some sensitivity over the fact that we had accused them of cheating on the Middle East ceasefire.
Secretary Rogers plans to announce your meeting with Gromyko from New York, on Monday night.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 713, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. IX. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information. According to an attached copy, Kissinger and Haig drafted the memorandum. A note on the memorandum indicates that “The President has seen.”↩
- See Documents 13 and 15.↩
- Rogers and Gromyko also discussed SALT during their meeting on October 19. In a memorandum for the file on October 21, Gerard Smith reported the following exchange: “The Secretary said that we were serious about SALT, that we had tabled a specific proposal, that there was no linkage between SALT and other political issues. Gromyko said they, too, were serious about SALT. He said if SALT was not linked to other political problems, that meant that other political problems were not linked to it (which seemed a rather obvious statement). The Secretary confirmed this.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL US–USSR) Printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, Document 108.↩