117. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon 1

Dear Mr. President,

You have already been informed, of course, by Dr. Kissinger of the talks we had with him in Moscow. On my part, I feel that the exchange of opinion which took place, was useful, from the point of view of moving ahead in the questions that will be the subject of our discussions during my visit to the US next June.

It is good, first of all, that we have agreed on the main issue—regarding the agreement between the USSR and the US on the prevention of nuclear war, which will be signed by you and me.

I would like to tell you, Mr. President, that the present finally agreed text allows us to say that we will do a great thing of real historical importance. And we have no doubts that this agreement corresponds to the interests of not only our two countries, but of the peoples of the whole world as well.

I regard as useful also the exchange of views on the limitation of strategic arms. True, we were not able yet to finally agree on the document regarding the principles of further talks on that matter because of the shortness of time. But we have in mind, as it was agreed with Dr. Kissinger, to proceed with this work in the confidential channel. We continue to believe that the adoption of such a document at the meeting would give a necessary impetus to those talks.

I would like to emphasize, Mr. President, that we are for continued active talks on that problem, for search of mutually acceptable solutions in the field of the limitation of strategic arms with the use for that purpose of both the confidential channel and the negotiations in Geneva.

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Among other bilateral issues, touched upon in the talks with Dr. Kissinger, of important significance are, of course, the questions of trade and economic ties. The general approach of yours and ours to the development of those ties seems to be identically positive. Yet the creation of necessary favorable prerequisites in the sense of equal conditions for trade and credits is naturally required for the realization of our common interest in widening and deepening trade and economic ties, in finding new forms for those ties. We took note of the explanations and appropriate assurances on the matter given by Dr. Kissinger on your behalf.

As for the international problems, we always believed that one of the most critical issues is that of the Middle East. And now great dangers are in wait of us in the Middle East. The developments there can take such a turn which neither we, nor—I believe—you would like to happen. We frankly expressed to Dr. Kissinger our appraisal of the present situation. Our statements might have sounded quite blunt to Dr. Kissinger, yet the bluntness is dictated by the explosiveness of the situation itself.2

In the conversation with Dr. Kissinger it was said—and I would like to repeat it to you personally—that if the main question of withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Arab territories, occupied in 1967, is settled, then all the other questions, including those of the security of Israel and of other countries of the region, can be solved; frankly speaking, they will not then be an obstacle for the settlement. And it is the leaders of Israel themselves who constantly maintain, that those are the very questions, i.e. the questions of security, which concern them.

Dr. Kissinger also offered a number of considerations on how, in the US opinion, it would be possible to act further on the questions of the Middle East settlement. Certain ideas, expressed by him, went, in our view, in the direction of facilitating the search of a solution of the main question—that of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied Arab territories. But, frankly speaking, there is a lack of completeness here. We hope that necessary clarity will be added to the US position on this question when we receive the communication from you on that matter, as was promised by Dr. Kissinger, within 7 or 10 days after his return to Washington.3

We, on our part, are prepared to work on the Middle East problem, sparing neither time nor efforts, before my visit to the US. There may not be any doubt that the fixation at our meeting of exact and clear understanding between ourselves regarding the ways of the Middle East [Page 462] settlement on a just and solid basis would be another major milestone both in the relations between our countries and in the normalization of the world situation as a whole. I believe that this is a feasible task and the achievement of such mutual understanding would undoubtedly give a due impetus to the peaceful settlement in the Middle East and to the working out by the parties concerned of concrete measures of its implementation.

No special difficulties appeared in the exchange of opinion with Dr. Kissinger on European questions, including those related to the preparation and the holding of the all-European conference. Apparently, our representatives have to continue to maintain regular contacts on those matters. There will be, of course, enough here for you and me to talk about—in a wider and more long-term perspective.

In conclusion, I would like once more to note the constructiveness of the talks with Dr. Kissinger and the atmosphere of frankness, in which they were held and which increasingly characterize our relations. The talks were a useful prelude to the important negotiations which we shall have with you in the month of June.


L. Brezhnev 4
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 17 [May 1973– June 7, 1973]. No classification marking. A handwritten note at the top of the letter reads, “Handed to HAK by D 1:00 pm 5/15/73.”
  2. See Document 112.
  3. See Document 120.
  4. Printed from a copy with this typed signature.