288. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Georgi M. Korniyenko, Chief of USA Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Leonid M. Shevchenko, Aide to Chairman Podgorny
  • Mr. Bratchikov, Interpreter
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Martin Hillenbrand, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff Member
  • Winston Lord, Special Assistant to Dr. Kissinger
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff (Notetaker)
[Page 1146]


  • Communiqué2 SALT (briefly at beginning and end)

Foreign Minister Gromyko: You have already announced our agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Somebody leaked it?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: The SALT treaty was published in the New York Times. Who will be crucified for this? If necessary we can crucify him solemnly, with music.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s a new refinement, with music.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: At end of the visit we were going to publish the texts. We had a schedule.

Dr. Kissinger: I thought there was an understanding. Someone gave the texts to the press. We have no interest in breaking an understanding. I thought all the announcements were joint between Ziegler and Gromyko.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: No, they were made unilaterally.

Dr. Kissinger: I’m terribly sorry.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: OK, you will submit tomorrow the name of the person who will be crucified.

Dr. Kissinger: At the departure ceremony.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: No, it will interfere. The ceremony is solemn enough.

The Communiqué

Dr. Kissinger: I suggest we go over it page by page. [Working draft is at Tab A.]3

Foreign Minister Gromyko: First page, “By agreement between the two sides….”

Dr. Kissinger: How about “by mutual agreement?” I hate the phrase “two sides.” It is a sort of stylistic point. If you say “mutual,” you don’t need “the two sides.” How about leaving out the leaders, and saying “By agreement between the USSR+USA”?

Do we need this? Because we couldn’t have come here without your agreement and we wouldn’t have come here without our agreement. “Mutual” is redundant in English, but if you need it in Russian, OK.

We add “mutual” and leave out “leaders of.”

[Page 1147]

By the way, we can add the date. May 29 is the date.

In the second paragraph, the President and who conducted the meetings?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: General Secretary L.I. Brezhnev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, N/V. Podgorny, and Chairman of the Council of Ministers A.N. Kosygin.

Dr. Kissinger: “Also taking part on the American side were”—we will list everyone in our official party. We will get this list typed up.

“Frank and thorough”—Didn’t we take those out? That’s what you wanted.

For. Min. Gromyko: On page 2, section 2—I suggest deleting the subtitle “II. Bilateral Agreements.”

Dr. Kissinger: I agree.

Mr. Korniyenko: Then you have Bilateral and International Issues.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I agree.

For. Min. Gromyko: I suggest instead of “prior negotiations,” that we say “the negotiations which preceded the Summit and in the course of discussions at the meeting itself,” and so on.

At the end of this, after the words “interests of the international community,” make it “the cause of peace and cooperation.”

Dr. Kissinger: Can we make it two sentences? There are too many dependent clauses in English.

Can we say “relevant to the cause of peace and international cooperation”? Let me… I hate to be so pedantic, but I want to get it straight. [Reads the text over.]

For. Min. Gromyko: In the next subtitle (SALT), we have a new first paragraph.

Dr. Kissinger: We have a new paragraph.

For. Min. Gromyko: We would like to insert this thing. [Hands over Soviet draft at Tab B.]

Dr. Kissinger: We would like to insert this thing. [Hands over U.S. draft at Tab B.] [Both sides read.]

Let’s work from your draft. I think there are no major differences.

The first paragraph [in the draft of the full communiqué] we don’t need. Just one sentence from it: “The two sides gave priority attention to the problem of reducing the danger of nuclear war.” Is anyone writing this down? I would then say, using your paragraph, “They attach great importance to the treaty on ABMs and the interim agreement concluded between them.”

For. Min. Gromyko: You omit “in this connection?”

Dr. Kissinger: In English it isn’t necessary.

[Page 1148]

For. Min. Gromyko: I think it will be better to preserve it, and have it in one paragraph.

Dr. Kissinger: The Foreign Minister is a great believer in linkage. Come to think of it, could I take back what I said? I believe the two sentences we had in the [original] first paragraph are quite good. Then, “in this connection, the two sides attach …”

Instead of “should make a significant contribution,” make it “can make.” Or “will make,” that’s stronger.

For. Min. Gromyko: All right, “will make.”

Dr. Kissinger: We would probably prefer “major step” instead of “great step.”

For. Min. Gromyko: In Russian, vazhnii or krupnii, it doesn’t make a difference.

Dr. Kissinger: Now I have a pet phobia of the President’s, which I put to you frankly.

First, why don’t we say “towards curbing and ultimately ending the arms race?”

Why don’t we say “These agreements, which were completed as a result of the negotiations in Moscow”? We don’t need “the preparation of which.”

For. Min. Gromyko: Can we say “reached in Moscow”?

Dr. Kissinger: We don’t want our delegations to feel…Semenov may be different from Smith.

For. Min. Gromyko: Suppose we say “concluded in Moscow”?

Dr. Kissinger: “Concluded” is fine.

Now, we are not challenging Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty,4 but the President does not feel we are doing it because of some obligation in the NPT but because we want it. The President when he read it in the briefing…

For. Min. Gromyko: But for the sake of consistency.

Dr. Kissinger: No, no, we’re not questioning it.

For. Min. Gromyko: You remember, in the UN some countries complained.

Dr. Kissinger: Can I change the order? “Strengthening confidence between states, as well as to carry out the obligation assumed by them under the NPT.”

[Page 1149]

For. Min. Gromyko: How about to leave out the reference to Article VI?

Dr. Kissinger: If we mention the Treaty, we might as well mention the Article. It’s not the reference to the Article the President objects to but the reference to the Treaty.

Why don’t we reverse the order? The meaning is the same, but it makes a difference.

For. Min. Gromyko: Why don’t we take psychology into account?

Dr. Kissinger: Can we say “confidence” instead of “trust”?

For. Min. Gromyko: You may. In Russian, it is the same.

Dr. Kissinger: We don’t need “assumed by them in accordance with.” Just say “the obligation in Article VI” just to save space.

In the second sentence of that paragraph, why not make it two sentences? With the changes. “Accordingly, it corresponds both to the vital interests…” “Accordingly” must be the favorite word of the Soviet Foreign Office.

For. Min. Gromyko: No, my favorite word is “appropriate.” The Americans use it more than the Russians do.

Dr. Kissinger: We reserve the right to fiddle with the English a little bit in order to improve it.

For. Min. Gromyko: All right.

Dr. Kissinger: Take out “of the world” [in your sentence].

For. Min. Gromyko: All right. Down with the world, long live the peoples!

Dr. Kissinger: All right. We will retype it and give it to you.

For. Min. Gromyko: Next, in the last paragraph of SALT [on the Sept. 30, 1971 agreement], insert “also.”

Dr. Kissinger: We have “also.”

For. Min. Gromyko: Good. In the Russian, we added it. And at the end of this paragraph, omit “vital” because it’s in the previous paragraph. It is better to use it in reference to SALT.

Dr. Kissinger: you’re right.

For. Min. Gromyko: On Commercial and Economic Relations, we have no changes.

Dr. Kissinger: But no maritime agreement. We have not yet straightened out with our unions. Until the unions are squared away, it will be difficult to implement the agreement. Therefore, it is up to your side if you want to sign the agreement in this situation. That was the situation at noon today.

For. Min. Gromyko: No progress.

Dr. Kissinger: We have not yet obtained expressions of willingness from our unions to operate under the terms of the agreement. It is our [Page 1150] fault. But the question is whether you want to sign the agreement under these uncertain conditions. We could conclude the agreement conditionally, if you prefer.

For. Min. Gromyko: Then at this moment …I will consult with the Minister. If it is not concluded, we will be disappointed. It is an old question. I remember I discussed it with Rogers a year ago. On Science and Technology, suppose we omit “as a new instrument.” There is no old instrument.

Dr. Kissinger: “Created” implies new. On Space, I suggest the past tense, “emphasized.” Where it says “scheduled,” because Congress hasn’t appropriated the money it is better for us to say “contemplated.” We have no money to schedule it, only to plan it.

For. Min. Gromyko: It would not affect our text. Health. In the last phrase, instead of “Soviet leaders and the President of the U.S.,” let us use my favorite word “sides.”

Dr. Kissinger: “The two sides pledge full support”? O.K.

For. Min. Gromyko: Europe. Instead of “arena,” try “hotbed.”

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t like “hotbed.”

For. Min. Gromyko: Suppose we say “Where both world wars began.”[Mr. Lord and Dr. Kissinger confer.]

Dr. Kissinger: My colleague says you don’t do justice to the Napoleonic wars if you say only world wars. How about the Schleswig–Holstein question? O.K.

For. Min. Gromyko: In the last phrase of the paragraph, why not say “inviolability”?

Dr. Kissinger: I thought we could slip it out without your noticing. Our problem is that “inviolability” implies not even the possibility of raising a territorial question in peaceful terms.

Is that right, Marty?

Mr. Hillenbrand: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: We prefer to stay with this phrase.

For. Min. Gromyko: [Thinks for a moment.] Maybe there is another English phrase.

Dr. Kissinger: How would you phrase this “inviolability” point? Give me a sentence.

For. Min. Gromyko: I would say like this: “They consider that the inviolability of borders of the states of Europe must be observed.”

Dr. Kissinger: How about “They agree that the territorial integrity of all states must be inviolable.”

For. Min. Gromyko: It omits borders. Your previous governments—Johnson, Kennedy—always said borders should be inviolable.

[Page 1151]

There was no difference between us. The previous U.S. Government was far ahead of the German Government in this respect.

Dr. Kissinger: Do you have the exact [German–Soviet] treaty? What is the exact phrase the Germans use?

[Gromyko tells Bratchikov to go out to get it.]

Dr. Kissinger: [Points jokingly to the chandelier over the table]: There is a camera in it. Ivan the Terrible invented it.

For. Min. Gromyko: No, Ivan the Terrible invented the air conditioning in this room!

Mr. Bratchikov: [Enters with the Treaty language, and reads]: “The sides consider as inviolable now and in the future the borders between all states in Europe.” There is another clause, “The sides confirm the obligation to unswervingly observe the territorial integrity of all the states of Europe in their present borders.”

For. Min. Gromyko: We quoted the Treaty language.

[There followed a long conference on the U.S. side.]

Dr. Kissinger: We will let you know this evening. We will try to find some way of accommodating your thinking.

For. Min. Gromyko: Good, it will be very good.

Dr. Kissinger: No previous Administration has put it into a joint document with the Soviet Union. It is one thing to do it this way, and another thing to do it in private statements. And not at the highest level.

For. Min. Gromyko: President Kennedy told me …

Dr. Kissinger: We are not contesting the inviolability of frontiers. Our concern is that we don’t want to get involved in the debate. You know, in the German Bundestag, the debate over the permanence of the borders. Hillenbrand will check at the Hotel the English text of the Soviet-German treaty. We will try to find a paraphrase.

We are also checking the Berlin treaty to see how Berlin is mentioned.

[There was a short break.]

Mr. Korniyenko: And on the reduction of forces, you still don’t want “foreign and national”?

Dr. Kissinger: No.

Mr. Korniyenko: Why not?

Dr. Kissinger: Because we want to leave open which forces will be reduced.

For. Min. Gromyko: You are against the admission of the Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic into the UN?

Dr. Kissinger: No.

For. Min. Gromyko: At the appropriate time?

[Page 1152]

Dr. Kissinger: It isn’t in here.

For. Min. Gromyko: It is in our text.

Dr. Kissinger: Our position is that we will not oppose it if the Germans propose it. But we don’t want to get ahead of the Germans. You will have no difficulty with us if the Federal Republic of Germany proposes it.

For. Min. Gromyko: About Berlin, we will do it the same.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

For. Min. Gromyko: [On CSCE]: “Concrete preparations should begin.”

Dr. Kissinger: We would prefer to omit “in the near future.” Just, “after the signature.”

For. Min. Gromyko: That makes it still sooner.

Dr. Kissinger: I know what you are saying. As the President said in the meeting, we don’t think these conversations can begin until the fall.

For. Min. Gromyko: Can’t we mention “national and foreign” forces?

Dr. Kissinger: No, we took it out.

For. Min. Gromyko: And just “armed forces,” not armaments?

Dr. Kissinger: Armaments is OK.

For. Min. Gromyko: What does “reciprocal” mean?

Dr. Kissinger: Both sides. Would you prefer “mutual and balanced”?!

For. Min. Gromyko: Reciprocal means “by agreement.” All right, keep this word.

On the Mideast, we would prefer to state two sides’ different positions, but we don’t have a text here. One paragraph.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, something of this content, but we will have to work over something. I think we can settle that one paragraph.

For. Min. Gromyko: Then Indochina. For the time being we don’t have a text.

Dr. Kissinger: What is your view? That we will state different points of view?

For. Min. Gromyko: We would prefer a joint text. It would be very good.

Dr. Kissinger: Do you have a proposed text?

For. Min. Gromyko: Not yet.

Dr. Kissinger: I have a conciliatory page of our position. [Hands over draft at Tab C.] It could be shortened by us.

For. Min. Gromyko: This is joint, or one-sided?

Dr. Kissinger: This is our position.

[The Soviets read it.]

[Page 1153]

We would be prepared to shorten it; we don’t need to spell out our conditions. The third paragraph could be shortened substantially. It is not in our interest to have in the middle of this document two pages of disagreement.

[At 3:55, General Antonov came in, saying “Forgive the interruption,” and accompanied by a girl carrying pieces of Dr. Kissinger’s birthday cake for Dr. Kissinger and the Foreign Minister.]

General Antonov: And on behalf of our girls, for the American delegation, she will kiss you. [Laughter. She kisses Dr. Kissinger, and blushes.] And not on orders! [Laughter]

[General Antonov and his girl leave.]

Dr. Kissinger: On Vietnam, Mr. Foreign Minister, we would be prepared—if you can come up with a short formulation—to shorten ours to be consistent with yours.

For. Min. Gromyko: Our preference is not to have a long one.

Dr. Kissinger: May I suggest you submit what you are prepared to say, and we will follow your length.

For. Min. Gromyko: We would prefer a joint statement. It would be the best solution. But we will come back.

Should we say [in section on Disarmament Issues] “arms control” or “arms limitation”?

Dr. Kissinger: That’s all right. “Limitation.”

Mr. Korniyenko: And again, “sides” instead of “leaders.”

Dr. Kissinger: I agree.

Mr. Korniyenko: We don’t need “respective,” so as not to imply divergence.

Dr. Kissinger: You are right.

Mr. Korniyenko: On chemicals, you agreed to have something.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we changed it. “The USSR and USA will continue their efforts to reach an international agreement regarding the problem of chemical weapons.” We don’t need “the problem of.”

On the next page, we will add “including nuclear disarmament” [in the sentence on general and complete disarmament].

For. Min. Gromyko: You agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

For. Min. Gromyko: On the United Nations, you are in favor of the preservation of colonialism?

Dr. Kissinger: We are in favor of avoiding a statement on this in this document.

For. Min. Gromyko: Suppose we add one phrase to this paragraph: “Accordingly they will do their best to support UN activities in the interests of international peace.”

[Page 1154]

Dr. Kissinger: You sneaked another “accordingly” into the document. I want you to know we appreciate the skill with which it was done.

For. Min. Gromyko: Let us go to the last section.

Dr. Kissinger: May I make one very minor proposal? We can say “cooperation between peoples” instead of “in the interests of peoples.” This is just stylistic. And “possibilities exist” should be “it is possible to develop.”

For. Min. Gromyko: All right. The title is most solemn. Why don’t we say “Joint Soviet-American Communiquéé”?

Dr. Kissinger: Joint Soviet-U.S. Communiqué. In fact we’ll go further than that: Joint U.S.-Soviet Communiqué.

When we are finished, we will give Mr. Korniyenko our English text. You will make sure that TASS publishes our English version. If we have any reason to use the Russian, we will use yours. This is agreed?

Mr. Korniyenko: Yes.

For. Min. Gromyko: I will show it to Mr. Brezhnev.


Dr. Kissinger: Do you object if we submit to the Congress the agreed interpretive statements? We would like to submit the statements also, such as that “significantly” means 10–15%.

For. Min. Gromyko: If you consider for you it is all right.

Dr. Kissinger: That makes it public.

For. Min. Gromyko: It is up to you.

[The meeting then ended.]

  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. For text of the U.S.-Soviet joint communiqué issued on May 29, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 635–642.
  3. All brackets in the source text. The tabs are attached but not printed.
  4. For text of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of July 1, 1968, see Department of State Bulletin, Vol. LIX, July 1–Dec. 30, 1968, pp. 8–11. Article VI of the Treaty reads: “Each of the parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”