283. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to USA
  • Georgi M. Korniyenko, Chief of USA Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Bratchikov, Interpreter
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff Member
  • Winston Lord, Special Assistant to Dr. Kissinger
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff (notetaker)


  • Communiqué

Foreign Minister Gromyko: You had a second formulation?

Dr. Kissinger: I gave them both to you.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: No, you didn’t.

Dr. Kissinger: I wanted to keep you in suspense. [Hands over sentence on world disarmament, Tab A]2 How many submarines do I get for this?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: What does “this process” refer to?

Dr. Kissinger: It goes at the end of disarmament section.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Generally it is all right.

On some matters, for example, Vietnam, the Middle East, what is your idea? Perhaps we should say something in the line of unilateral expositions. We will take this up tomorrow.

Dr. Kissinger: Tomorrow. The other evening your leaders made some references about not being able to say something joint, but they didn’t know whether the technique we used in China was suitable. We are prepared to say “The U.S. position is …,” “The Soviet position is …”

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Probably. But briefly.

[Page 1126]

Dr. Kissinger: Tomorrow, since there may be other discussions. On SALT we need something. How will we handle it?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Maybe you prepare something.

Dr. Kissinger: All right, tomorrow we will have something.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: We changed the phraseology. In the paragraphs at the end, “Both sides emphasized …,” we suggest making a sentence, “Both sides proceed from the recognition of the role, the responsibility and the prerogatives of other interested states, etc.” So the first sentence of the last paragraph is covered. Now we go to the last part.

Dr. Kissinger: “Both sides proceed from the recognition …” That was a good change.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Suppose we say, in the second phrase of this paragraph, “These results show that in spite of differences between social systems in ideology, and in spite of differences in policy, there are possibilities for development of mutually advantageous cooperation in the interests of both countries, in the interests of strengthening international peace and security.” You have instead “a process has begun that can affect not only the substance but the spirit of Soviet-American relations.”

Maybe ours is more solemn but we would prefer ours. A little more prosaic.

Dr. Kissinger: It surprises me in a devotee of Tchaikovsky.

It’s not a matter of principle.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Add it after the phrase “differences in their policy.”

Dr. Kissinger: The only point I would make is that the way you have it written it suggests that one of our policies is principled and the other isn’t.

Ambassador Dobrynin: We accept yours; it stands. We just want to add this in place of the phrase about “spirit.”

Dr. Kissinger: All right.

Ambassador Dobrynin: So we already accept 50%.

Dr. Kissinger: We will clean up the English. We will be giving you a new text that has, I hope, only editorial changes.

We have again a purely stylistic change in the next paragraph about regular consultations. We suggest “useful” or “desirable” instead of “expedient,” because “expedient” has other connotations. “Useful” is better.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: OK, “useful.” Did you send everything needed to your delegation?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

[Page 1127]

Foreign Minister Gromyko: We did too.

Dr. Kissinger: they’re working when they’re not rebelling. What if they don’t finish today?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: It is not convenient [to have the signing] Sunday.

Dr. Kissinger: What about after Leningrad Saturday?3

Foreign Minister Gromyko: It is not convenient.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. I will give a briefing tonight. You won’t be the same afterward.

The only other change is “The Soviet leaders accepted the invitation.” It sounds less abstract.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: I will look through it, and if I see any problem we will take it up tomorrow.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Foreign Minister, we have put the communiqué into better English. We have not made any substantive at least it wasn’t intended to make any substantive changes. [Hands over text at Tab B.]

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Does it have today’s changes?

Dr. Kissinger: No.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Give it to us later [hands it back].

Dr. Kissinger: You’ll have it in the course of the afternoon, 4:00, 4:30. We’ll send it to your office before 5:00 p.m.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: All right. I will see Mr. Brezhnev now. Dr. Kissinger: We will meet tomorrow and go over the communiqué and principles.

Ambassador Dobrynin: You omitted one paragraph of the principles.

Dr. Kissinger: Not intentionally. Show me.

Well, we will have Hillenbrand here tomorrow. I think it’s better to have State comments on the communiqué and principles.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Hm?

Dr. Kissinger: All right? In case he has any questions.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: All right. All right.

Dr. Kissinger: You let me know tomorrow when we will meet.

Ambassador Dobrynin: If I’m not mistaken, the sentence omitted dealt with exchange of contacts, etc.

Dr. Kissinger: I assure you it’s a typing error.

[The meeting then adjourned.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 73, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Mr. Kissinger’s Conversations in Moscow, May 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The meeting was held in St. Catherine’s Hall at the Grand Kremlin Palace.
  2. All brackets in the source text. The tabs are attached but not printed. Tab A reads: “A World Disarmament Conference could play a role in this process at an appropriate time.”
  3. On Saturday, May 27, Nixon was scheduled to visit Leningrad.