144. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • USSR
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Vasili V. Kuznetsov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Georgi M. Kornienko, Member of Collegium of Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to the United States
  • Victor M. Sukhodrev, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • USA
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for NEA
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff
  • Ambassador Robert McCloskey
  • William Hyland, NSC Senior Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

The Secretary and the Foreign Minister began by initialing the agreed US-Soviet understanding on the meaning of the phrase “under [Page 601] appropriate auspices” in paragraph 3 of Security Council Resolution 338.2 The text [at Tab A] was initialed in English and Russian copies.

The Secretary offered a second written understanding [Tab B]3 to confirm the agreement to use maximum influence with the parties to ensure an exchange of prisoners of war within 72 hours of the ceasefire. “This will help me in Israel,” the Secretary said. After a brief private conversation, it was agreed that a formal written understanding was not necessary. The Foreign Minister assured the Secretary that we had the personal commitment of Brezhnev. “I’ll take the word of the General Secretary,” Dr. Kissinger stated. “There is no need to sign.”

The group was then seated at the table, and breakfast was served.

Gromyko: At this breakfast you are the host.

Kissinger: I told you I once gave Brandt a lunch in his own house.

Gromyko: The next lunch I will give for you.

Kissinger: Good.

Gromyko: Another agreement reached!

Sisco: Did you hear about Scali’s phone call about “practical fulfillment?” I had to explain it to him in the middle of the night. He said, “Did you discuss it?” I said, “We discussed it fully.”

Kissinger: One other question: Can I tell newsmen at the airport that I’m going [to Israel]? Would it be embarrassing?

Gromyko: Psychologically . . . It would be preferable if you not tell your destination from Moscow [laughing].

Kissinger: Then we do it from Washington.

Gromyko: I think it’s rather [better] psychologically.

Kissinger: Good.

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: Then I won’t say anything at the airport. Otherwise I’d be lying.

Gromyko: You should be enigmatic. [Laughing]

Dobrynin: Like a sphinx.

Kissinger: They will ask me, “Where are you going?” I’ll say, “It remains to be decided!”

The Chinese, when they were informed of this resolution by the President of the Security Council, McIntyre, were very angry. He [Huang Hua] pounded the table, I heard.4

[Page 602]

Gromyko: [rises] I offer a toast to what we accomplished yesterday and the day before and to all who accompanied you. [drinks toast]

Kissinger: [rises] Mr. Foreign Minister, we’ve negotiated many agreements. But even more than agreements, we’ve negotiated a relationship between our countries which is fundamental to peace in the world. What we’ve done in the last two days is important not only to the Middle East but to US-Soviet relations and our whole foreign policy. I therefore offer a toast to the Foreign Minister and all he has done for the friendship between our two countries and the peace of the world.

I also want to offer a toast of a personal nature. What we’ve accomplished couldn’t have been done without the contribution of your Ambassador in Washington, who—if it doesn’t ruin his position here—I must say is not only a distinguished Ambassador but a great personal friend.

Gromyko: We call him the Russian American. [Laughter]


Twenty years ago there was an interpreter at the UN named Sherry, who repeated every gesture of the speaker. If the speaker stretched his hand out like this [shakes his fist] he did it too. [Laughter]

Dobrynin: Once during a UN debate on the Congo . . .

Kuznetsov: It must be ten years ago.

Dobrynin: A speaker gave a quote from Hamlet, “Everything is rotten in Denmark.” And the representative from Denmark got up and said, “He may know something about the Congo but he knows nothing about Denmark.” [Laughter]

Gromyko: I offer a toast to the President. [toast]

Kissinger: This isn’t strictly protocol, but I offer a toast to the General Secretary, who has done so much for US-Soviet relations.

Gromyko: Sometimes protocol must be subordinated to something substantial.

Kuznetsov: To something substantive.

Kissinger: To affection.

Gromyko: In Russia we keep the main toast to the last.

Kuznetsov: There is a difference between drinking and a toast. [Laughter]

Gromyko: When do you get back to Washington?

Kissinger: Midnight Washington time.

It [the visit to Israel] will be very important for the guarantee question. If we did it in Washington, there would be many exchanges. When it’s done I will let your Ambassador know in Washington.

Kuznetsov: It’s very important.

[Page 603]

Kissinger: It’s also our preferred way of doing it.

[Phone call comes in for Sisco from Scali, Sisco goes out to receive it.]

The meeting [of the UN Security Council] started one hour late, but it finished in exactly three hours as we had planned. It was excellent example of cooperation.

Gromyko: The French and Chinese were absent.

Kissinger: No, just China. The French voted for it.

Sonnenfeldt: The French made a speech saying “auspices” meant the Security Council.

Kissinger: A number of countries offered their interpretation that it meant that.

Sisco: [comes back] Malik and Scali have agreed that the UN Secretariat will send the resolution to Israel, Syria, and Egypt and as note verbale to others related to 242, such as Iraq, Syria, etc. as a matter of information. I think it’s a good idea. Doesn’t make any difference.

Gromyko: Right.

Kissinger: You should know that when we agreed to go to Israel, there were two conditions—they had to accept the resolution and there had to be substantial compliance with the resolution.

Gromyko: And they accepted.

Kissinger: They accepted. Because I didn’t want to be there if there was a violation going on.

Gromyko: Did any Arab representatives speak?

Kissinger: Zayyat5 spoke. We understand that Huang Hua was very angry until Zayyat told him that the non-committed wanted it adopted. He had been very angry.

You must have been in very active touch with your Arab friends yesterday.

Gromyko: We were in touch. We were in touch with some of them. With several of them.

Kissinger: Knowing how the Foreign Minister operates, I didn’t think he was entirely ignorant of their probable reaction. And so were we, but not with so many. Australia, Britain, France.

Gromyko: And you were in touch with the nonaligned bloc countries.

Dobrynin: The nonaligned bloc!

Kissinger: We told the Yugoslavs we would rather deal with hostile countries, who were less critical than the nonaligned. [Laughter] [Page 604] We should form a bloc of our own. [Laughter] Has there ever been a joint US-Soviet resolution at the Security Council before?

Sisco: I think there was on the non-proliferation treaty.

Sonnenfeldt: And General Assembly resolution Number 1 in 1946.

Kissinger: But it must be the first time that during a crisis the US and the Soviet Union joined in a resolution.

Gromyko: You are right.

Dobrynin: The United Nations was puzzled yesterday. They couldn’t find a way to oppose it!

Kissinger: I don’t know what the American press will say. When we were meeting, they were writing about détente being ruined.

Gromyko: Are they good boys or bad boys?

Sisco: Today they’re good. [Laughter]

Kissinger: Tomorrow I’ll have a press conference and I have a certain ability to handle them.6

Gromyko: We will have time to negotiate one more resolution.

Kissinger: I’m getting worried about Kornienko. We got through this without any objection from Kornienko. [to Kornienko:] Do you feel all right?

Kornienko: Yes. Today. [Laughter]

Kuznetsov: The American team also has some people. [referring to Sonnenfeldt]

Kissinger: They’re sitting next to each other.

Kuznetsov: They even look alike.

Dobrynin: I wouldn’t go that far.

Gromyko: When you went hunting, Sonnenfeldt didn’t want to kill anything?

Kissinger: No, it was a massacre!

Gromyko: It was defensive.

Rodman: Collective self-defense.

Sonnenfeldt: Article 51.7

Kissinger: I don’t know if the invitation for January is still . . . oh yes, the General Secretary mentioned it yesterday.

Gromyko: We promised you warm clothes. Hunting is more interesting in winter because the boar are more careful, very careful. And you can hear their steps in the snow.

[Page 605]

I wouldn’t call me a great hunter. But I have patience.

Sukhodrev: He is a passionate hunter.

Gromyko: I’m not modest enough to deny it.

Kissinger: In New York the UN Secretary General gave a dinner for all the delegations, and everyone made passionate speeches about how wonderful international relations were. The Foreign Minister got up, and he’s very precise. He said, “Relations are essentially constructive.” [Laughter] I laughed so hard that the Chinese wouldn’t speak to me.

Gromyko: The Secretary General used several superlatives. [Laughter]

Did you agree with my remarks?

Kissinger: Yes, and they were, if I may say, quintessentially Gromyko. The Chinese thought there was some diabolical collusion going on because I was laughing.

Gromyko: In Geneva our representatives at SALT seem to be doing an honest job.

Kissinger: It is completely stalemated.

Gromyko: But in some time we should review where we are.

Kissinger: In the US we’re having a debate about whether to make proposals that are as outrageous as yours, or stick with ours. As extreme as yours. I assume we will have some considerations. And you’ve not yet completed your studies.

Gromyko: About half way.

Kissinger: We’ll stick with ours. There is no need to introduce any new ones. We’ll wait until you have something to say.

Gromyko: It doesn’t mean you should stop thinking.

Kissinger: No. It’s a very tough problem, as you must have discovered in your deliberations. The ideas I’ve discussed thinking out loud with your Ambassador we could consider.

And the Security Conference is going along normally.

Gromyko: We would like to see more effect.

Kuznetsov: More speed.

Gromyko: It’s going too slow, too slow. Thirty-five people, thirty-four, thirty-five.

Kuznetsov: Monaco was added.

Kissinger: If Princess Grace is there, this gives me high incentive for a summit.

Gromyko: The Americans acted very wisely. They infiltrated this American Grace into the European Conference.

Kuznetsov: This gracious Grace.

[Page 606]

Sonnenfeldt: And Sikkim, too.

Kissinger: Hope Cooke, another American girl.8

Dobrynin: In Washington one of your colleagues told me that it’s hard to get people to learn foreign languages, therefore they need to provide incentives. He told me a joke about a cat and a mouse. The mouse is in his hole and the cat is trying to get him to come out. He goes, “Meow, meow.” But the mouse is too smart; he doesn’t come out. Then the cat goes, “Rowr, rowr.” The mouse thinks, “The dog has appeared. The cat has disappeared. And I know that the dog doesn’t bite the mouse. So it is safe.” So the mouse goes out, and the cat gets him. The moral of the story is, this is the advantage of knowing foreign languages. [Laughter]

Gromyko: There is another story. The mouse jumped into a bowl of milk, and the cat fled in fright. The cat’s wife then asked him, why are you so frightened? The cat tells her the story. The wife says, “What kind of man are you?” The cat says, “I never tangle with a drunken woman!”

The breakfast meeting then ended. As they went to the door, Secretary Kissinger repeated that the accomplishment of the last two days was an example of what US-Soviet cooperation could mean.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 76, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Kissinger Trip to Moscow, Tel Aviv & London, October 20–22, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the U.S. Delegation’s Guest House in Lenin Hills. Brackets are in the original.
  2. See Document 143 and footnote 6 thereto.
  3. Tab A and Tab B attached but not printed.
  4. Sir Laurence McIntyre, Australian Ambassador to the UN. Huang Hua was the Chinese Ambassador to the UN.
  5. Mohammed el-Zayyat, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  6. Kissinger held a press conference on October 25. The transcript was printed in The New York Times, October 26, 1973.
  7. A reference to Article 51 of the UN Charter.
  8. An American socialite, who in 1963 married Palden Thandup Namgyal, the Crown Prince of Sikkim.