1. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Anatoli Dobrynin
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger

Dobrynin had just returned from Moscow and was effusive about the meeting.2 He had a message from Brezhnev to me personally commenting on my constructive handling of the negotiations. The Soviet leaders were convinced that I had made a major contribution to the success of the Summit and they wanted me to know their appreciation. Brezhnev looked forward to my return to Moscow early in September. And if I came before September 15, he hoped that I would be his guest in the Crimea.

Dobrynin had a message also from Brezhnev to the President. He thanked the President for the manner in which he conducted the Moscow negotiations. He pointed out that there were many successes at the Summit but the greatest success in the eyes of the Soviet leaders was the personal relationship established between Brezhnev and the President.

Dobrynin then said that he looked forward to further discussions with me on a variety of issues, especially the Middle-East. Gromyko had been very pleased by our discussions, particularly by the direct [Page 2] way in which I had handled it. He also thought that we should start talking about the trade negotiations. In fact, Kosygin had said to him that it was obvious that Rogers didn’t know what he was talking about and that unless Kissinger got involved, Kosygin did not have too much confidence.

I asked Dobrynin about the plan to send Podgorny to Hanoi. Dobrynin replied that Podgorny was still planning to go. They had sent a summary of the conversations with me to Hanoi but indicated that Podgorny stood ready to give a fuller explanation. Hanoi had not yet replied and therefore the matter was still in abeyance. He expected that the trip would take place in the near future though.

I gave him a letter from the President to Brezhnev (Tab A) and promised him copies of clarifying statements on SLBM’s which we were preparing for congressional presentation. [These were delivered to Dobrynin later in the day (Tab B).]3

There was some desultory small talk and then the meeting broke up.

Tab A

Letter From President Nixon to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev 4

Dear Mr. General Secretary:

In the days since departing from Moscow, I have reflected a great deal upon our historic week of meetings. It will be judged not only by the agreements that were reached but by the impetus it gave to future negotiations and agreements and by the way in which we build upon the foundations which we jointly established for our future relations. The week in Moscow was thus both a culmination of over three years of common efforts, by which we prepared what was accomplished, and a starting point for even more fruitful bilateral cooperation and for new advances toward the goal of a peaceful world.

In expressing to you and your colleagues Mrs. Nixon’s and my own gratitude, and that of all those who accompanied us, for the warm hospitality shown to us throughout our stay, I should like to stress [Page 3] again the importance I attach to the direct and personal contact we were able to establish. I say this not in order to give exaggerated weight to the role of any one individual, or because good personal relationships are all that is needed to solve the great problems of our day. I do believe, however, that when responsible leaders can communicate frankly and clearly with each other, it helps to create the conditions in which those problems can be dealt with concretely and realistically. It is in this spirit that I expect to be in frequent touch with you about any major moves we are planning as well as on all matters of common concern.

In this spirit, I thought it might be useful, Mr. General Secretary, to set down my views of the tasks ahead of us. I would welcome your reaction to these views so that our representatives can then proceed from a common appreciation of what we should seek to accomplish in the months before us.

In the field of bilateral cooperation, I believe we should act promptly to give substance to the agreements we have reached. In particular, with regard to the agreements on science, technology and the environment,5 senior American officials will be available at an early date to meet with your responsible officials to work out detailed programs. In the areas of health and outer space, the relevant agencies of our governments already have excellent working relationships, but I am certain that these have received added momentum from the summit meetings.

With respect to the agreement to prevent incidents at sea,6 full implementing instructions have been issued to all our commanders. I am gratified that good personal and working relationships have been established between our respective naval officers up to the highest levels, and I am confident that the agreement will put an end to the potentially dangerous frictions that occasionally arose in the past.

With regard to economic and commercial relations, I have already indicated to you that Secretary Peterson will plan to visit Moscow in July, if this meets with your convenience, so that the joint commercial commission7 can begin its work promptly and complete the provisions [Page 4] of a trade agreement. I believe it would be desirable for both sides to review the discussions held during my visit to Moscow, as well as those held earlier in Moscow and Washington, so that the decisions necessary to remove the remaining obstacles to agreement can be made at the highest political levels by the time the commission convenes. Our discussions in Moscow undoubtedly served to clarify the factors which influence decisions in both our governments, and I am hopeful that we will therefore be able to approach the next phase of these negotiations with fuller mutual understanding. I am convinced that we have only scratched the surface of the possibilities in the commercial field. Dr. Kissinger is already working with Secretary Peterson on how to push forward some of the projects discussed in Moscow including those concerning natural gas.

Finally, in the area of bilateral relations, I share what I know to be your desire to proceed at an early date to the next stage of the negotiations to limit strategic arms. I plan very shortly to submit the treaty limiting ABM systems and the interim agreement on offensive strategic arms8 to our Congress. From my initial discussions with key members of the two houses of the Congress, I am confident that the agreements we concluded will command a substantial majority. There will, of course, be considerable public discussion, and indeed some controversy, about certain of the terms of these agreements. I consider such discussion vital because it is essential that a historic agreement affecting basic security interests should be fully understood by the public. I believe you are aware that certain aspects of the agreement, especially those dealing with offensive weapons, are viewed by some in this country as disadvantageous to the United States. While I am convinced that the “freeze” agreement represents a fair compromise, safeguarding the security of both sides, I know you will understand that members of my Administration who will appear as witnesses before the relevant Congressional committees will be required to give a full explanation of the terms of the agreement and of their implication for our security.

Once the process of debate, explanation and approval has been completed, we will be in a position to move ahead with the follow-on negotiations looking to an early agreement for the permanent limitation and, hopefully, an actual reduction of offensive strategic weapons. [Page 5] However, even before that I believe we should, through our confidential channel, seek to clarify the issues for the next stage. Moreover, it would be helpful if, through the same channel, we can communicate regularly to ensure that the implementation of the initial agreements is carried out to the satisfaction of both sides and in a way that avoids misunderstandings. Obviously, the negotiations for a follow-on agreement will have the best chance of succeeding in an atmosphere of confidence about the implementation of the first agreement.

Turning to European questions, I am gratified that we have reached understandings concerning the beginning of multilateral conversations looking to the convening of a full conference on European security and cooperation and of preparatory talks aimed at negotiations on reciprocal reductions of armed forces and armaments,9 first of all in Central Europe where the military concentrations on both sides are the greatest. These questions of course involve the interests of many other states who expect to make their contribution to mutually acceptable progress. In the weeks ahead, I look forward, however, to a continued exchange of views in the confidential channel so that both our governments can proceed in these negotiations with the fullest possible understanding of each other’s interests and objectives.

I welcomed the opportunity to discuss with you and your colleagues the possibilities of a satisfactory settlement in the Middle East. The problems involved present perhaps the greatest challenge to the statesmen of all the concerned countries; the manner in which our two nations approach these problems is a practical test of the basic principles which we signed on my last day in Moscow.10 I am prepared to build upon the discussions we conducted in Moscow by further confidential exchanges.

Our lengthy conversations about the conflict in Indochina11 served, I believe, to deepen the comprehension by each side of the attitude of the other. I believe it was clear that both our countries want to see peace come to this anguished region. I will not deviate from my [Page 6] commitment to an honorable conclusion of the conflict and my representatives will remain ready to engage in prompt, productive negotiations to that end. I will be fully alert to any indication that the other side is prepared to pursue this path. I am looking forward to the results of the mission you mentioned during my last meeting with you.

Mr. General Secretary, I shall await with interest your own reflections on the considerations I have outlined in this message. The long road that brought us to the Moscow summit was not an easy one, and it was marked by many detours. Given the many important differences which we both recognize remain and will continue to remain between us, the road to the next summit meeting will undoubtedly not be an easy one either. But we now know how to prepare and we can accelerate the process. I hope that when the not too distant time comes that we may repay here the hospitality extended to us in the Soviet Union, we will be able to show new accomplishments in the cause of peace for our two countries and the world as a whole. That should be the goal of all our endeavors in the weeks and months ahead.


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 12. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The meeting took place in the White House Map Room.
  2. A reference to the Moscow Summit, May 22–30, 1972. The records of the meetings between President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev, as well as documentation on discussions leading up to and preparations for the summit, are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972.
  3. Attached but not printed. Brackets are in the original.
  4. Top Secret. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Handed by K to D, 10:50 am, Thurs, 6/8/72, Map Room.”
  5. For the text of the agreements, signed at the Moscow Summit, see Department of State Bulletin, June 26, 1972, pp. 921–926.
  6. For the text of the agreement, see ibid., pp. 926–927.
  7. The text of the U.S.-Soviet joint communiqué issued on May 29 after the Moscow Summit reads in part: “In the interests of broadening and facilitating commercial ties between the two countries, and to work out specific arrangements, the two Sides decided to create a U.S.-Soviet Joint Commercial Commission. Its first meeting will be held in Moscow in the summer of 1972.” (Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, p. 637) The formation of the commission was first announced on May 26 in Moscow by Peter Flanigan. See “Joint Commission Set Up To Resolve Trade Issues,” The New York Times, May 27, 1972, p. 1.
  8. The United States and the Soviet Union signed two strategic arms limitation accords on May 26: the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and the Interim Agreement on Certain Measures with respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The former limited each signatory’s deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems to two designated areas, including the national command authority. The latter limited the overall level of strategic offensive missile forces. For the text of the SALT treaties, see Department of State Bulletin, June 26, 1972, pp. 918–921.
  9. The text of the U.S.-Soviet joint communiqué reads in part: “The U.S. and the USSR are in accord that multilateral consultations looking toward a Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe could begin after the signature of the Final Quadripartite Protocol of the Agreement of September 3, 1971.” It continues, “Both Sides believe that the goal of ensuring stability and security in Europe would be served by a reciprocal reduction of armed forces and armaments, first of all in Central Europe.” In conclusion, an “Appropriate agreement should be reached as soon as practicable between the states concerned on the procedures for negotiations on this subject in a special forum.” (Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, p. 640)
  10. For the text of the “Basic Principles of Relations Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” May 29, see ibid., pp. 633–635.
  11. For the memoranda of these conversations, May 23 and 24, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Documents 263 and 271.