17. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

    • Your Meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko, October 22, 1970

Gromyko will be the highest-ranking Soviet official with whom you will have met since assuming office, although you saw his deputy, Kuznetsov, at the Eisenhower funeral last year,2 a man who is actually Gromyko’s senior in Party terms. You failed to see Gromyko when he was here for the UN last year, because the Soviets, while probing for an appointment, failed technically to ask for it. They later claimed to have been snubbed.

This memorandum discusses

  • —the setting of your meeting, which is perhaps the most important US-Soviet encounter since you entered office;
  • Gromyko’s probable purposes and line; and
  • —your purposes and general exposition.

Tabs with more detailed status reports and talking points on the subjects that are most likely to come up are attached in the order in which they would probably arise. There is also a sketch of Gromyko’s career and personality.3

The Setting

The meeting occurs at a moment of unusual uncertainty in both capitals concerning the intentions and purposes of the other side.

On our side we have been asking ourselves whether there is in process some turn to the hard side in Moscow’s relations with us, based on Soviet performances in the Middle East, their military foray into the (to us) sensitive area of Cuba, their probe of our resolve in the Berlin air lanes, their continuing strategic military build-up, the generally hostile [Page 57] tone of their propaganda, their apparent effort to divide us from the Europeans, their continued failure to play a constructive role in Vietnam, etc.

Contrasting this, we have continued to see an interest on their part in certain aspects of SALT, including a rather striking if obscure overture for a deal involving joint actions against “provocative” third countries; continued willingness to move ahead on a treaty dealing with the seabed, and on at least certain limited forms of cooperation in the areas of science and space. Whatever their precise motives, there is no doubt that the Soviets are interested in a summit meeting.

As usual our analysis of Soviet policy and its purposes has been complicated by ambiguity or lack of good evidence concerning the attitudes of Soviet leaders, the jockeying that must be going on among them in this pre-Party Congress period and, generally, the distribution of power and influence within the Soviet oligarchy.

Recent events may be part of a deliberate pattern of testing our resolve—and your personal mettle—and of determining to what degree the Nixon Doctrine,4 our domestic problems, and the emergence of strategic parity may be affecting our foreign policies.

In part at least, the Soviets may have thought from our handling of the Middle East cease-fire and from our failure to react to increased military activity on their part in and around Cuba that they had acquired some increased freedom of maneuver.

By the same token, however, many recent Soviet actions may have their principal explanation and motivation in the particular situation involved and their more or less simultaneous timing may be fortuitous. (Of course, even if the latter hypothesis were the more valid, Soviet conduct could quickly develop into a pattern if it were sensed in Moscow that US resolve and power were in process of retracting and for this reason our actions regarding Cambodia, Jordan, Cuba and Berlin, as well as your trip may have a sobering effect.) In any event, we must examine our future policies toward the USSR in the coming period with more than routine attention.

In Moscow, at the same time, there appears to be uncertainty concerning our policies and our evolution. It is of interest that apart from Gromyko, there are currently in the US two other high-ranking Soviet officials: one, Zimyanin, the chief editor of Pravda, outranks Gromyko in the leadership (where Gromyko still remains essentially a technician [Page 58] on the fringes of power); the other, Zamyatin, a former diplomat and subordinate of Gromyko’s, is now the head of TASS, which, apart from being something like a Western news agency, is also the most far-flung Soviet intelligence gathering machine and the regime’s transmission belt for information, guidance and indoctrination to the Soviet population and Communists abroad. Each of these three officials (and they were preceded in the last several months by a score of well-connected scientists, scholars and America experts), is undoubtedly part of a major Soviet reconnaissance, the results of which could have considerable bearing on the important pending Soviet decisions for the Party Congress, especially those relating to the next five-year plan. In short, this may be a moment of fundamental decision-making in Moscow, too.

For the Soviets, the question of what our policies in major areas like the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe and in the military competition are likely to be, are crucial questions because, given the Chinese challenge and its costs, the obvious problems of the maturing but lagging Soviet economy and the continuing instability in Eastern Europe requiring periodic use of actual Soviet power and maintenance of potential power must all somehow be brought into rational framework in the next five-year plan. In addition to the normal jostling for position among Soviet leaders (possibly more serious right now since all the top men are in their late sixties and must sooner or later give way to younger men), the substantive issues involved are bound to involve differences of opinion and assessment and may, indeed, be highly controversial.

Experience has shown that on the whole we do best

  • —if we consult our own interests and not attempt to influence the domestic trends in the Kremlin;
  • —that we recognize that for outsiders Kremlin infighting is a highly opaque matter which we can do little, at least by deliberate action, to influence anyway (even if the outcome is undoubtedly a matter of great concern to us); and
  • —that we will serve our interests most successfully by getting our purposes and policies across to the Soviets as clearly as possible.

Gromyko’s Purposes and Line

Gromyko will have a dual purpose when he sees you:

  • —to gauge you personally and your attitudes; and
  • —to attempt to influence US policies in ways desired by his masters in Moscow.

His reports (and those which may be separately sent back to Moscow by the other Soviets present), as well as the reports of the other high-level Soviets currently here will be read by all members of the Politburo and hence by all factions, if factions there be, in the Kremlin. [Page 59] They could thus be of great importance at this particular point in Moscow’s decision-making and political maneuvering.

I understand from Dobrynin that Gromyko’s general attitude will be to put the past behind us and to see where we go from here. He will stress that to the Soviet leaders the events of the summer look like a deliberate turning towards a tougher line by us. He will inquire whether this is a settled policy and indicate a willingness to improve relations while at the same time being prepared to stick out a hard line.

It will almost certainly be part of Gromyko’s tactic to put you on the defensive by reciting an indictment of your policies. He will do this (1) to get a debating advantage, (2) to test your reaction, (3) to draw from you denials or modifications in our policies, and (4) to influence your decisions after his departure.

But while using this tactic, incidentally almost certainly in a fairly conciliatory manner, he may also try to test your interest in certain agreements and deals. This effort is partly related to Moscow’s own interest, right now, in attempting to decide on whether certain beneficial arrangements can be made with the US and partly to its effort to determine whether you are looking for agreements as a means of cutting back on overseas involvements.

His major points are likely to be the following:

  • —the Soviets were favorably impressed by your initial statements about entering an era of negotiation and by several aspects of your letter to Kosygin of April 1969 detailing the elements of your approach;5
  • —but they soon began to feel that your deeds failed to match your words (he may go so far as to suggest that this was due to the influence of “forces,” like the “military-industrial complex,” interested in keeping the cold war alive and in making profits from armaments.

Uppermost in the indictment that Gromyko may attempt to put forth will be

—the allegation that we mounted a deliberate campaign this summer to discredit Soviet credibility and trustworthiness by our charges that they violated the Suez standstill agreement and, more recently, were attempting to violate the 1962 Cuban understandings.

[Page 60]

Other points that may come up in his critical remarks about us might include

  • —the charge that we are holding Germans back in their Eastern policy;
  • —the claim that we are sabotaging the Soviet proposal for a European security conference which, Moscow claims, almost all Europeans want;
  • —our one-sided support of Israel;
  • —our “saber-rattling” in the Mediterranean;
  • —our decisions to proceed with Safeguard Phase II and our MIRV program.

(Note: The Soviet press and other high, medium and low-ranking officials have also complained of the following which Gromyko, however, probably would not raise:

  • —our China policy, which allegedly encourages Chinese hostility toward the USSR;
  • —your trip to Romania6 which allegedly gave heart to unsavory “nationalist” elements in Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe;
  • —our discriminatory trade policies toward the USSR;
  • —our Vietnamization policy, which the Soviets claim prolongs the war while saving us casualties;
  • —our alleged role in the overthrow of Sihanouk7 and subsequent “invasion” of Cambodia, which the Soviets claim played into Chinese hands.)

The point about this catalogue, which in one form or another has appeared in the Soviet press or has been rehearsed in private is that it is a mixture of actual Soviet perceptions and of typical Soviet hypocrisy. Indeed, in some respects it reflects the fact that some of your signals may have been unclear while others have in fact gotten through to the Kremlin leaders, unpalatable though they may have been to them.

As noted, Gromyko will probably also display interest in certain kinds of collaboration with us. The areas involved (and discussed in greater detail in the Tabs) may be the Middle East, Berlin, certain aspects of SALT and summitry.

In sum, while trying to put you on the defensive and testing your reactions that way, he will want to get a more precise measure of your commitments and your view towards negotiations.

[Page 61]

(Note: The Soviets not only see the US as subject to numerous contradictory cross currents but they are uncertain whether to regard you personally as favorable or unfavorable—”unrealistic” or “realistic” in their terms—to a modus vivendi, by which they mean not only certain mutually beneficial agreements but our acceptance of them as a world power and of their hegemonial position in Eastern Europe.)

Your Purposes and Basic Message

Your overriding purpose in this conversation is—to put across the points—

  • —that you make the fundamental decisions concerning foreign policy,
  • —that your purposes are clear,
  • —that you are precise, careful and thoughtful,
  • —that you are prepared for serious progress in US-Soviet relations but only on the basis of strict reciprocity.

Beyond that, you should make the following points:

  • —that you meant what you said about entering an era of negotiation and that at this stage in your Presidency you may have the greatest flexibility to negotiate.
  • —You are in a better position to make basic settlements than your immediate predecessors because you don’t have to worry about attacks from the right.8
  • —This is early enough in your tenure so that a course set now can have effect in either direction of conciliation or, if you are driven to it, resistance to encroachment.
  • —that there does, however, remain a strong latent anti-Communism in our population which could be aroused if the impression grew that the Soviets were “testing” you and attempting to take unilateral advantage of our effort to reorder some of our priorities in line with the needs of the seventies;
  • —that we did not mount any organized campaign to cast doubt on Soviet trustworthiness and credibility but that whatever the legal technicalities may have been, you, your Administration, and our people did get the clear impression that at Suez the Soviets had deliberately abetted and participated in the violation of a clear understanding that there be a military standstill;
  • —that, in addition, we cannot help but view with concern the continued growth of Soviet strategic power, not because we think we have [Page 62] a God-given right to superiority but because the Soviet programs are taking a form (SS–9s especially) that are hard to consider with defensive intent;
  • —that you firmly believe that negotiations will be successful and yield viable results only if conducted with a sense of security and that you are quite prepared to see the Soviets approach this matter in the same way; but that an effort on their part to gain unilateral advantage or military preeminence will inevitably produce countermeasures and set back the prospect for negotiation;
  • —that you believe firmly that an orderly structure of world peace must rest on mutual respect of the interests of all concerned and that the disregard of the legitimate interests of one side by the other will merely postpone the advent of an era of genuine negotiation;
  • —that while our two countries obviously carry special responsibilities by virtue of our power, size and influence, you consider notions of condominium unacceptable and incongruous.

[Omitted here is a list of Tabs A–J.]

Tab A


Where the Situation Now Stands

The U.S. persuaded the UAR to accept its peace initiative9 by implying that if there were a ceasefire/standstill we would show restraint in military assistance to Israel and in a negotiation would press Israel to withdraw in a settlement.
The U.S. persuaded the Israelis to accept by assuring them that talks would begin from the then existing military balance. For this purpose, a standstill was linked to the ceasefire.
The Soviets presumably shared the UAR interest in engaging the U.S. The Soviets must also have understood the basis of our approach to Israel:
  • —They certainly understood that a standstill was part of the cease-fire. On July 23, Secretary Rogers told Dobrynin we assume that a standstill as part of the ceasefire is also acceptable to the USSR. Dobrynin said, “Yes, of course.”10
  • —The USSR is legalistically correct in saying that it was not party to the negotiation of the actual terms of the ceasefire/standstill agreement on August 7. However, they were informed of the terms and, on August 12, of the U.S. understanding of the agreement regarding new construction and movement of missiles.
  • —The Soviets also now claim that Secretary Rogers said the cease-fire/standstill was not an integral part of the U.S. peace initiative. However, in addition to knowing the U.S. reason for insisting on the standstill, the language in the formula which both Israel and the UAR accepted stated that they had accepted the ceasefire/standstill “to facilitate Ambassador Jarring’s mission.”
  • —They knew your statement of July 3111 and never contradicted it.
The Soviets continue to participate in continuing development of the UAR missile complex. They have never formally acknowledged that Soviet personnel are involved, and there is some evidence that UAR crews are beginning to take over some SA–3s.
It may be that the USSR urged Syria to withdraw rather than reinforce their units after their defeat by the Jordanians and after Israeli and U.S. moves, but we have no evidence.12
The situation now is that:
  • —Both Israel and the UAR have indicated a willingness to see the ceasefire extended when it expires November 5.
  • —Israel would be content to see the ceasefire continue without negotiations. It has said it will not begin talks until the UAR standstill zone is restored to what it was on August 7.
  • —The UAR wants negotiations with the U.S. heavily pressing Israel to withdraw. The UAR is willing to continue the ceasefire as long as there is hope of talks. If that hope wanes, the UAR will feel compelled to renew the war of attrition to regenerate pressure for talks. The UAR is not willing to remove “one missile” from the standstill zone to get talks started.
  • Riad told Secretary Rogers that the UAR must seek a resolution in the UN General Assembly to use with the UAR army to get the cease-fire extended. It is not clear what kind of resolution he will seek. One possibility is a simple reaffirmation of the 1967 UN resolution and a [Page 64] call for continuation of the ceasefire. The other is a more radical call for Israeli withdrawal.

What Gromyko Will Say

Gromyko will probably repeat these general points:
  • —the U.S. is slandering them with allegations of violations; the USSR was not party to the standstill agreement;13
  • —the U.S. is undermining negotiations and abetting continued Israeli occupation;
  • —Israel violated the standstill;
  • —the U.S. never made negotiations contingent on the standstill.
He may repeat the specific suggestion he made to Secretary Rogers—that the U.S. give thought to washing out the past difficulties and to proceeding on the following basis:
  • —that the ceasefire be extended for a limited period;
  • —that talks be resumed under Jarring’s auspices;
  • —that the USUSSR talks be resumed; and
  • —that the Four Power talks continue.
Gromyko added that proceeding on the above basis would obviate the need for General Assembly debate.
What this adds up to is Gromyko asking the U.S. to forget the standstill violations and press Israel again to begin talks on the basis of the new military balance as if nothing had happened.

The U.S. Position

The U.S. problems with Gromyko’s specific proposal are that:

  • —Israel would not accept without U.S. pressure.
  • —Pressing Israel on the basis of Soviet failure to observe an understanding would be exceptionally difficult.
  • —It would set a bad precedent for other U.S.-Soviet agreements such as SALT.

The U.S. must see some evidence of Soviet performance before it can press Israel into talks. The choice is between:

  • —Continuing to press for some rollback of missiles and
  • —Acknowledging the violations as a fait accompli but insisting on some other demonstration of Soviet readiness to participate seriously in the negotiating process.

The U.S. has already moved to redress the balance on its side by:

  • —Removing the self-imposed restraint on assistance to Israel;
  • —Providing Israel with a set ($55–90 million) of the best U.S. electronic equipment to cope with the missile complex;
  • —Assuring Israel of $500 million in financial assistance (as contrasted to $189 million promised last March).

The U.S. may now have an interest in a tacit extension of the cease-fire which would unhook it from the U.S. peace initiative. Only in that way, perhaps, can Israel move away from the position that it will not talk until the missiles are rolled back. But some evidence of constructive Soviet performance will still be necessary.14

The tactical question is whether to volunteer suggestions now that could form the basis of a new understanding or to await a Soviet move. In view of our interest in creating a new situation and in view of the fact that the UAR still cannot get its territory back militarily, it would seem preferable to wait Moscow out.

What You Might Say

You are not going to discuss details. The facts are known.
Whether the USSR was a legal party to the standstill negotiation or not, the U.S. position and intent were well known in Moscow. The agreement was violated. This not only undercuts prospects for negotiation but raises the most serious questions in our minds.
The only U.S. interests in the Middle East are a stable peace and the freedom of the nations in that area to pursue their interests free from external domination.
It is a fact that Israel will not leave the occupied territories unless it is either pushed out (with incalculable consequences) or there are negotiations in good faith. We support the latter.
To get negotiations started, there will have to be assurance that the USSR and UAR will help establish a sound base for them. The U.S. in July and August negotiated such a base. It has been undercut. Now we would welcome Soviet suggestions as to what new base might be established.
The quid pro quo for Israel’s vacating the occupied territories is promises of living in peace or securing arrangements by which confidence in these assurances can be restored.
A debate in the General Assembly is now in prospect at Egyptian instigation. That will either improve the atmosphere for continuation of the ceasefire and for talks or make them more difficult.
The U.S. has made clear that it would like to see the ceasefire extended. But this will be up to those on the ground.
As regards arms shipments (if Gromyko raises the subject), the U.S. remains ready to discuss an agreement curtailing them for both sides.15

Tab B


Where the Situation Now Stands

We originally took the initiative following your first European trip to suggest that if there is to be an era of negotiation, Berlin should be removed or at least reduced as a source of recurrent crises.16 Consequently, we and our Western allies, including the FRG, worked out a series of measures which we felt would enhance the viability of West Berlin, make crises less likely but leave the basic four-power responsibility for the city as a whole untouched.17 We did not have in mind any new arrangements concerning the military garrisons since these are already covered by agreements and understandings.

We always recognized that any agreement about Berlin would be vulnerable to sudden Soviet and/or East German violation because geography simply could not be altered. Consequently, we were always reluctant to consider concessions in the present status but aimed at its improvement. We did not know whether the Soviets might have a similar interest but thought it worth testing them.

Then Brandt came into office and activated his Ostpolitik. As it turned out, its center-piece, as distinct from past German efforts to reach agreements with the East, was an agreement with Moscow on renunciation of force and recognition of borders. The Germans hoped by this to allay Soviet fears that they were trying to disaffect the Soviet satellites by dealing only with them but not with the USSR.18

[Page 67]

Under pressure from the opposition CDU, and coming from Berlin himself, Brandt recognized that he could never claim success in his Eastern policy if it did not include an improved arrangement for Berlin. As a result, the Berlin negotiations became intimately entangled in the Ostpolitik to the point that the Germans said they would not ratify their treaty with the Soviets (in which the FRG made all the concessions, which the Soviets gladly pocketed) unless there were first a new agreement on Berlin.

In agreement with the FRG, the allies worked out a proposal that would (1) regularize civilian access to the city, (2) confirm and strengthen the economic and cultural ties between West Berlin and the FRG, and (3) maintain an FRG political presence in West Berlin.19 In return, the FRG was willing to curtail certain activities the Soviets found especially obnoxious, like meetings of FRG constitutional organs.

The Germans argued that the Soviets were so interested in getting the Moscow treaty ratified (because of their concern with China and their desire to get German economic assistance—which the Soviets were already getting anyway), that skillful negotiating tactics by the Western allies would induce the Soviets to accept the Western list even though most of the concessions would be Soviet.

There has never been any evidence to support this. In several Ambassadorial meetings, the Soviets proceeded to put forward a series of proposals which, in effect, would make of West Berlin a third German state (somewhat like their old “free city” proposal minus any demands for our military pullout). They would agree to various economic and cultural ties between the city and the outside world, including the FRG; to safeguards for civilian access; but not to any political ties between the city and the FRG. In addition, the Soviets demanded termination of a whole series of “subversive” activities, like radio broadcasts and rejected any discussion of East Berlin, although they do not reject the continuation of four-power (US, UK, French, Soviet) responsibilities for the city as a whole, mainly because they do not want to be excluded from a role in the Western sectors. In fact, the Soviet proposals have aggravated the Berlin position, not eased it.20

Gromyko’s Probable Line

In discussing this subject, which is now deadlocked over the issues described above, Gromyko may

  • —reiterate Soviet readiness to safeguard the economic life of West Berlin and civilian access to it;
  • —reaffirm the continued validity of four-power responsibility for the city as a whole;
  • —but reject any political ties between the FRG and West Berlin;
  • —in effect enunciate the idea of West Berlin as a third German state with membership in the UN but without any change in the Western military/civilian presence;
  • —reject the idea that there can be any discussion of East Berlin which the Soviets regard as the capital of the GDR and a closed subject.

(Note: There have recently been some indications that the Soviets might consider some low-key FRG political representation in West Berlin. This has aroused interest in Brandt’s entourage (Bahr) who has frequent surreptitious contacts with Soviet officials. We may at some point be faced with German schemes for reducing or transforming the FRG’s political presence in West Berlin in an effort to get an agreement which would then permit Brandt to claim success and submit his Moscow treaty for ratification. But as a quid pro quo for such an arrangement the situation may evolve in which the Germans pay twice, on Ostpolitik and on Berlin.)

In Response to Gromyko, You Should

  • —avoid details;
  • —avoid leaving the impression that you are willing to scale down the Western position since the Soviets will immediately carry this back to the Germans (and the French, who, if anything, have been the most reluctant to negotiate about Berlin at all because they want to keep their position in Berlin unimpaired as leverage vis-à-vis the Germans);
  • —reiterate your basic view that there can be little hope of peace and quiet in Europe if Berlin boils up into crisis periodically;
  • —state your conviction that there ought to be improvements in the life of the West Berliners, if only on humanitarian grounds;
  • —note the basic reality that the FRG feels intimate ties with the city and that there can be no thought of making it a third German state;
  • —express the hope that the Ambassadors will continue their work and reach a mutually acceptable agreement which would be bound to have beneficial effects beyond Berlin itself.21

[Page 69]

Tab C


Current Situation

The Soviets have long proposed a conference designed to ratify the status quo in Europe, including the permanent division of Germany and Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. Until recently, however, their proposed agenda has avoided all concrete issues and dealt with such matters as economic cooperation and renunciation of force.

We and the NATO allies have taken the view that a conference at some point may have a role but that it is pointless and dangerous if it is held and results in failure. NATO in Brussels with our participation has been attempting to identify concrete issues that might be dealt with. The problem is that the real issues between East and West in Europe relate to Germany and these are being negotiated separately. Lately, the idea has gained ground that the question of mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR) might be a subject to be discussed and the Soviets in their latest proposals suggested that a conference might set up a commission which could negotiate the reduction or withdrawal of foreign forces from Europe (an old Soviet staple). Our own studies are still in process and it is proving extremely complex to come up with options or packages that would be (1) realistic given Soviet geographic proximity and our remoteness, (2) negotiable, and (3) leave NATO with forces with which to conduct a rational strategy.22

(Note: The idea of a conference has also been advocated by Romania which believes that the mere existence of an ongoing negotiating forum would afford it additional protection against Soviet pressure or attack; the Romanians also have the idea that somehow the conference could be used to vitiate the Brezhnev Doctrine.23 Tito, as you recall, was rather cool to the idea [though Yugoslav diplomats have also advocated it strongly] unless there was careful preparation and a very concrete agenda.)24

[Page 70]

Gromyko may

  • —start by accusing us of dragging our feet;
  • —note that the Soviets of course would have no objection if we and Canada participated;
  • —claim that the very holding of a conference would improve the atmosphere;
  • —note that the Soviets have no objection to eventual talks about mutual reductions in foreign forces.25

You may wish to say that

  • —you have no objection in principle to a conference and we have not made special efforts to prevent it;
  • —you do believe that conferences of this kind should not be held for their own sake but deal with concrete issues and have some promise of success;
  • —simply to talk about more trade and exchanges seems unnecessary because other forums already exist for that;
  • —each of us should take a careful look at the question of mutual force reductions and then determine whether some negotiating effort is worthwhile.26

(You may wish to refer to Tito’s comments to you.)

Tab D


It is doubtful that Gromyko will have a detailed response to our last Helsinki proposals (overall limit on ICBM and SLBM launchers, limit on bombers, ABMs confined to capital city protection or eliminated, no MIRV ban).27

He may, however, seek to test your reaction to an ABM-only agreement.28 Despite the difficulties you have had in the Congress with Safeguard the Soviets seem concerned about the ultimate expansion of Safeguard in a way that would erode their deterrent.

[Page 71]

Gromyko may allude to the rather vague but potentially quite far-reaching Soviet proposal for a US-Soviet agreement to act jointly against “provocative” attacks or threats from third countries. (They seem mainly to have China in mind.)

Gromyko may also raise again the question of our forward-based aircraft and short-range missiles and assert a Soviet right to have “compensation” for these weapons in any agreement since they can reach Soviet territory.

The Soviets in Vienna appeared to display less interest in a MIRV ban than we had assumed. They rejected our proposal for a flight-test ban (on the ground that it would leave them at a technological disadvantage) and for a deployment ban (on the ground that it would involve on-site inspection). Their own proposal for an uninspected deployment and production ban was unacceptable to us because of its unenforceability.29

Gromyko may make some critical comments about our Safeguard and MIRV programs and may also charge that our “campaign” to impugn Soviet credibility was complicating the SALT talks.

The principal Soviet interest in testing our position on SALT is that they probably are attempting to settle on their military outlays in the next five-year plan and want to determine whether and what kind of deal might be negotiable.

In your own comments you may wish to make these points:

  • —despite the disappointments of the summer, and especially the problem over the Suez standstill violations, you intend to pursue the SALT talks when they resume in Helsinki on November 2;
  • —an ABM-only agreement is of no interest to us, even assuming the technical issues involved (protection against secret SAM upgrading and a definition of what radars will and will not be permitted) can be settled;
  • —any agreement must provide us with assurance that the Soviet program that threatens our deterrent (whatever Soviet intentions may be) is contained; this means limits on the SS–9; (Note: The Soviets have displayed great sensitivity to statements that they are planning a first-strike.)
  • —we think our proposals, while not perhaps perfect and not as far-reaching as you would have liked, should be a good basis for negotiation and we await with interest the considered Soviet response;
  • —on the question of joint measures against countries launching, planning or threatening a “provocative” attack we can consider [Page 72]
    • technical measures such as improved communications and means of identification so as to avoid any misunderstandings that might then embroil the two of us against our will;
    • —but we do not believe SALT is the proper context for negotiating the type of political understanding at which the Soviets have been hinting; this should in any case be the product of the general evolution of our relations.30

Tab E


Background and Purpose

  • —We have often spoken to the Soviets about Vietnam, but generally have not found them ready to do anything for us. We do not want them to become a negotiating intermediary.
  • —But we can count on them to report what we have said to Hanoi, and they will probably report accurately.
  • —Therefore, we want to be very tough in this meeting. We do not want Gromyko (or the North Vietnamese) to get the idea that we are softening our position.

His Position

  • —I doubt that he will raise Vietnam. If he does, it will probably be to tell us that the North Vietnamese will continue to fight unless we meet their demands. He may say that we must agree to a coalition, which he pushed with Secretary Rogers.
  • —He may also say that we should negotiate on Mrs. Binh’s eight points.31

Your Position

I think it would be appropriate for you to raise Vietnam. You may wish to make the following points:

  • —We think the military and political situation in Indochina has now reached the point where a stable settlement can and should be reached.32 [Page 73]
    • —Your speech was intended to reflect that appraisal.33 The principles you proposed for a cease-fire, and the points you proposed for settlement, were designed to allow serious negotiations.
    • —Our strategy is to try for such negotiations. We will recognize the legitimate interests of all parties.
  • —If we cannot conclude a settlement, we will continue with our present policies, which we believe are working.
  • —Hanoi’s situation is not getting better, and they will not find it easier to make a bargain later. The South Vietnamese are getting stronger.34
  • —Hanoi’s political proposals are unacceptable. They are a victor’s peace, not a realistic position.35
    • —They ask us to dismantle the organized non-Communist forces, which they have been unable to do in a generation of fighting.
    • —They are not even asking for a coalition—no matter what they call it—since they want to dictate whom they will accept in each of the elements. This is just a disguised takeover.
    • —We will not accept their preconditions.
    • —They must deal with the South Vietnamese Government on political issues. That Government is an existing reality.
  • —We are getting some intelligence reports which suggest that Hanoi will step up the pace of its military activity soon.
  • —This could have the most drastic consequences. Nothing could be a bigger mistake.36
  • —We have no intention of making a precipitate withdrawal or a disguised defeat.37 Moscow should realize that our efforts to preserve stability in that area are in its interests as well as our own.

Tab F

CHINA (Contingency)

The Soviets believe we are trying to put them under pressure by flirting with China. They charge we timed our overtures to coincide with the acute Sino-Soviet tensions last year and thereby encouraged [Page 74] the Chinese. They used to get read-outs from the Warsaw talks38 but do not now and may think that things are happening that they do not know about.

You may wish to say that

  • —our China policy is directed against no one, including the USSR;
  • —China is a great power and we intend gradually to establish communications with it;
  • —we take no sides in the Sino-Soviet dispute and have no interest in seeing any conflict between the two;
  • —no one should any longer take for granted that US-Chinese hostility39 will be permanent;
  • —we do not anticipate rapid movement.

Tab G

TRADE CONTACTS (Contingency)

The Soviets want credits and are interested in joint ventures for trucks and other heavy equipment. They are bitter that we are not forthcoming both because they consider this “discriminatory” and because they really need Western technology.

You may wish to say that

  • —you favor increased contacts among our scientists;
  • —you have no objection to trade deals within existing legislation;
  • —but a major change will occur only when problems like Vietnam and the Middle East are resolved;
  • —contrary to some, you believe that extensive economic relations should be the result of better political relations; experience has shown that if it is the other way round, economic relations quickly suffer when crises occur.40

[Page 75]

Tab H


It is almost certain that Gromyko will not raise the Cuba issue. If he does he may reaffirm the 1962 understandings and accuse us of fomenting a crisis.

(Note: The Soviets almost certainly were probing our reactions in Cuba, though we do not know what the Moscow politics behind the move may have been. There had been a gradual increase in Soviet military activities in the Caribbean this year, culminating in the project at Cienfuegos. Having been brought up short, the Soviets are undoubtedly sensitive about publicity but at the same time want to establish their right to show the flag periodically. Their interest in this may be heightened by the turn of events in Chile and Bolivia.)

You may wish to say that

  • —Cuba is a neuralgic point for us;
  • —we adhere to the understandings of 1962 provided both Moscow and Castro do (no export of revolution or subversion);
  • —we will watch the situation but curtail publicity.
  • —we will be governed by the understandings regarding the definition of a submarine base of the oral note of October 9.41

Tab I

SUMMIT (Contingency)

Gromyko may broach this, noting that it would be the turn of the US President to visit the USSR.

(Note: Summitry involving you may figure in Soviet leadership politics. Podgorney and Kosygin (Brezhnev seems safe for the time being) might like to button down a summit next year as at least some reassurance against demotion at the Party Congress next year.)

You may wish to say that

  • —you favor direct communications with other leaders;
  • —summits between the US and the USSR are different from others because they tend to raise both great hopes and great fears or disappointments, [Page 76] hence they have to be handled with care and there has to be some assurance of concrete results;
  • —you would like to visit the USSR again;
  • —assuming no great crises and progress on some of the great issues of our day you hope to visit the USSR and meet with its leaders before the end of your term.42

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 71, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Gromyko, 1970. Secret; Nodis; Sensitive. Sent for information. According to Haldeman, Nixon requested a “K memo to P re what we want” during a discussion on October 14 of “how [to] play Gromyko mtg.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, H. R. Haldeman, Box 42, H Notes, Oct. 1, 1970–Nov. 9, 1970, Part I)
  2. According to his Daily Diary, Nixon met Kuznetsov for five minutes on the evening of March 31, 1969. (Ibid., White House Central Files) No record of the conversation has been found.
  3. Tab J, attached but not printed.
  4. The Nixon Doctrine held that the United States would support but not necessarily supply the manpower for the defense of its allies in Asia. Nixon informally announced the policy in his remarks to reporters at Guam on July 25, 1969. See Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, pp. 544–556.
  5. In his inaugural address on January 20, 1969, the President announced: “After a period of confrontation, we are entering an era of negotiation.” For the full text of the address, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, pp. 1–4. The letter to Kosygin, dated March 26, 1969, was delivered on April 22. Printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 28.
  6. During a worldwide trip in the summer of 1969, Nixon made an official visit to Romania on August 2 and 3.
  7. Prince Norodom Sihanouk—who was in Moscow at the time—was ousted as Cambodian head of state on March 18 by Prime Minister Lon Nol.
  8. Nixon crossed out this point and highlighted the next two in the margin.
  9. See footnote 5, Document 3.
  10. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 184.
  11. In remarks to reporters after meeting with Rogers in San Clemente on July 31, Nixon underscored the achievement of the cease-fire agreement and urged all sides to refrain from any violations. For the text of his remarks, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 635–636.
  12. Reference is to the Jordanian civil war, which began on September 17, and the subsequent Syrian military intervention; the hostilities ended with a cease-fire agreement on September 27.
  13. Nixon underlined this clause.
  14. Nixon underlined portions of the first and last sentences in this paragraph.
  15. Nixon underlined portions of the second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and ninth points in this section.
  16. During his European trip in February and March 1969, Nixon visited Belgium, Great Britain, West Germany, Italy, France, and Vatican City. Brandt himself, then Foreign Minister, first proposed a “transitional arrangement” for Berlin on April 2 during the biannual meeting of NATO Ministers in Washington. On April 11, the Ministers approved a final communiqué, which supported “concrete measures aimed at improving the situation in Berlin.” See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Document 20.
  17. Nixon underlined the phrase “leave the basic four-power responsibility for the city as a whole untouched.”
  18. Nixon underlined most of this paragraph.
  19. Nixon underlined all three points in this paragraph.
  20. Nixon underlined several phrases in this paragraph, including “safeguards for civilian access; but not to any political ties between the city and the FRG” and “Soviet proposals have aggravated the Berlin position.”
  21. Nixon highlighted in the margin the third, fourth, and fifth points in this section and underlined portions of the fourth, fifth, and sixth points.
  22. Nixon underlined portions of the last three sentences in this paragraph, including the last three points.
  23. During a speech in Warsaw on November 12, 1968, Brezhnev justified the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia the previous August—and, by implication, any such military intervention in the future—as a necessary step to prevent capitalist interference in the socialist camp.
  24. Nixon met Tito during his State visit to Yugoslavia from September 30 to October 2. For a record of their meeting on October 1, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIX, Eastern Europe; Eastern Mediterranean, 1969–1972, Document 221. Brackets are in the original.
  25. Nixon underlined all except the last of these four points.
  26. Nixon underlined all four points.
  27. Reference is presumably to the proposal that the U.S. SALT Delegation tabled at Vienna, not Helsinki, on August 4. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, Document 100.
  28. Nixon underlined the words “to an ABM only agreement.”
  29. Nixon underlined most of the previous three paragraphs.
  30. Nixon underlined portions of the second, third, fourth, and sixth points, while highlighting the final point in the margin.
  31. Reference is to the proposal that Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, chief delegate of the Provisional Revolutionary Government in South Vietnam, tabled at the formal Paris peace talks on September 17. For an unofficial translation of the text, which was immediately leaked to the press, see the New York Times, September 18, 1970, p. 2.
  32. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.
  33. See footnote 10, Document 2.
  34. Nixon underlined these two sentences.
  35. Nixon underlined these two sentences, as well as portions of the next two.
  36. Nixon underlined most of these two sentences, while also highlighting the second one in the margin.
  37. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.
  38. Reference is to the periodic talks—held since September 1958 in Warsaw—between Chinese and American representatives.
  39. Nixon underlined portions of the previous three points.
  40. Nixon underlined portions of all four points in this section.
  41. Nixon underlined the first, third, and fourth points in this section. See Document 6.
  42. Nixon underlined portions of all four points in this section.