300. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU
  • Nikolai V. Podgorny, Chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet
  • Aleksei N. Kosygin, Chairman, Council of Ministers of the USSR
  • Nikolai K. Baibakov, Deputy Chairman, Council of Ministers, and Chairman of the State Planning Commission
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Nikolai S. Patolichev, Minister of Foreign Trade
  • Vasily V. Kuznetsov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to the USA
  • Andrei M. Aleksandrov-Agentov, Assistant to Mr. Brezhnev
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Interpreter
  • The President
  • William P. Rogers, Secretary of State
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Peter M. Flanigan, Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs
  • Martin J. Hillenbrand, Assistant Secretary of State
  • Jacob D. Beam, U.S. Ambassador to the USSR
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Senior NSC Staff Member
  • William G. Hyland, NSC Staff Member
  • Jack F. Matlock, Department of State

Brezhnev: This is our last formal meeting. We are all entitled to point out and emphasize not only that much work was done in preparing for these meetings, but also by both sides during this visit. We have endeavored to give our work a worthy spirit and to give worthy considerations [Page 1223]to the meetings. This is reflected in the documents signed and to be signed. The same spirit was shown on your side, and this enabled us mutually to make decisions on several subjects. The subjects and decisions were primarily political and this lends them a particular weight. All the decisions were of prime importance. The peoples on both sides expect action to implement these decisions and this imposes on us a responsibility to implement them to the letter. Also it must be noted that a very important fact is the spirit of the agreements is aimed at détente and not at a heightening of tension. I feel sure that the American and Soviet people will take note of this aspect and will be closely following our actions in the future.

It is also important to note that none of the documents are aimed against any third country. This is of fundamental importance. This also imposes a great responsibility on us for our future behavior and policy.

We attach no small importance to economic and technological cooperation, and this is one of the most important aspects of our relations. Therefore, all the discussions on economics, technical cooperation and trade are very important.

It will be very important to preserve in the future the spirit that guided us in these last days. I would like to note that we talked frankly. We told each other straightforwardly all that needed to be said. I would also note the great work of Henry Kissinger, Secretary Rogers and others during these talks.

We accept with gratification the desire to continue consultations on both bilateral and international matters that are not resolved, and I refer here to the situation in the Middle East and the ending of the war in Vietnam. The desire to bring about solutions imposes responsibilities. Finally, we feel that the summit has been successful.

Podgorny: Mr. President, at the beginning of our talks, several days ago, I already pointed out the great hopes pinned on these meetings. It can now be said that the discussions and decisions have not deluded the hopes of the people, especially if we consider that this is the first meeting after 25 years of abnormal relations. The documents signed will lead to fuller progress in bilateral relations and relations on an international scale. Not all of the questions have been resolved fully, but even the documents signed require future efforts to implement them, and a great deal depends on how we go forward. But for a first meeting it is believed to be a success. Moreover, there are grounds for hope that other questions, including trade, will be resolved. We have a responsibility for future moves. Relations will be built on principles and continue to improve without detriment to the other side. In short, we are gratified by the work of the last few days. Quite decent steps have been taken and I am referring here to [Page 1224]your story (in the President’s television speech)2 about measuring the length of our stride.

Kosygin: Our meetings were not fortuitous. The entire structure of our political and economic relations required these meetings. If there had not been meetings, additional great problems and difficulties might have occurred. All the people hold out great hope for these meetings. The preparations were done in a skillful way. It can be noted that on both sides we have justified hopes placed in these meetings.

Important political problems have been resolved. Now we are faced with the major task of giving practical implementation to the documents signed. We can say that this meeting will be continuing, even when we do not see each other. Because, if not, we will not have met our goal that we have set. I feel sure that it is the view of my colleagues, Comrades Podgorny and Brezhnev, that we want to ensure the result of these meetings.

There are, of course, questions that must eventually be resolved to give further hopes and beneficial results. In the first instance, we must do away with the hotbeds of war that exist. We must do our utmost that in areas where there is no hot war, but where tensions are growing, to ensure that the situation will be normalized. Then we will have justified the hopes of world public opinion.

In conclusion, we on our side will make every effort to increase contacts and relations with the US in the interest of all people. And we should not like history to be repeated. There were productive meetings at Yalta between FDR and Stalin, and then practical ties came to an end. We feel that these meetings will ensure better results.

The President said he was grateful for the boundless hospitality of his hosts, and, more important, that he was grateful for the frank talks. The results were significant because of the preparatory work by the experts both in Moscow and in the United States. We recognized at the outset that most summit conferences had been failures; since the end of World War II they had raised hopes and then failed. These meetings, on the other hand, had been successful because they were well prepared, and also because—and this was important but quite difficult to measure—because of an acceptance of mutual responsibility to respect the other side’s viewpoint, and its right to disagree strongly, and, while respecting the equal strength of each side, finally to find a way to reach agreement on fundamental matters.

The President continued by noting that superficial observers, sometimes in the press, would judge the meeting only by the agreements [Page 1225]signed. These are important, but as pointed out by the Soviet side the results will be determined more by how the agreements are implemented. By establishing a process for progress in all areas, this enabled us to reach agreement.

The President said that on the part of the United States he could assure the Soviet leaders that on all levels of the US Government there would be an intention to take a forthcoming attitude in working out problems that might arise. For example, there is the question of trade. The President noted that he had pointed out the great possibilities in this field. Even though we had not made the progress we would have liked, our differences were narrowed and we could be confident that we would see a blossoming of trade and a new relationship of enormous benefit to our peoples. The key to this, as well as other difficult issues, will be the continuation of frank contacts at all levels, including ambassadors and ministers, and, of course, at the summit level where that is the best way to break an impasse.

The President said he wanted to conclude his remarks by saying that history had been made by what had been signed, but the real test is what happens in the future. Now that we all know and respect each other, we have an opportunity to make even greater history for future generations.

(The President asked Secretary Rogers if he wanted to make any remarks.)

Secretary Rogers noted the excellent statements by the President and the Soviet leaders. All were very fortunate to take part in this historic event. It was made possible by thorough preparations and arrangements, and he wanted to thank his Soviet hosts for this, and for the spirit and atmosphere in which the meetings had been conducted.

The President added that he had only one complaint: The communiqué to be issued would be inviting the Soviet leaders to visit the United States at a mutually agreeable time in the future; but in the United States there were no rooms as grand as St. Catherine’s Hall.

Kosygin interjected that it would be difficult to wrap up the room and ship it to the United States.

The President replied that he would not ask, because Mr. Kosygin might well do just that. In any case, the President said, we will make your stay a memorable one.

Brezhnev replied that he had omitted one important point in his remarks. He wanted to express his gratification for the invitation, and to say that we accept this kind invitation and the dates will be arranged.

The President said that he would add one point. He had read that when Premier Kosygin was recently abroad there were demonstrations. The President had experienced much more and worse, and if this occurred while Mr. Kosygin was in the United States, the demonstrations would be against the President, not against Mr. Kosygin.

[Page 1226]

Kosygin said that at the Glassboro meeting the entire route had been lined with people, but they had signs for peace. The strength of this meeting in Moscow was that peace had been our prime goal.

The President replied that we will set that as our goal. Our next meeting will come at a time when there is peace in the world. This does not mean ten years or even ten months which would be too long. Peace is more urgent than that.

Brezhnev said he agreed. (At the President’s prompting he said “OK” and the President said “khorosho.”)

Podgorny said this was a good goal.

Sukhodrev (the interpreter) read the Soviet announcement of the meeting and it was agreed.

The President added that Secretary Rogers would be leaving to attend a NATO meeting in Bonn, and he would be reporting on the Moscow meetings but would keep confidential the high-level talks.

Kosygin asked whether Secretary Rogers would be going there to do away with NATO.

The President answered that maybe in about ten years, and Kosygin commented that was a long time.

The meeting adjourned.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 487, President’s Trip Files, The President’s Conversations in Salzburg, Moscow, Tehran, and Warsaw, May 1972, Part 2. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in St. Catherine’s Hall at the Grand Kremlin Palace.
  2. For text of Nixon’s May 28 television and radio broadcast to the people of the Soviet Union, see Public Papers: Nixon , 1972, pp. 629–632.