155. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei Gromyko, Soviet Foreign Minister
  • Viktor Sukhodrev, Soviet Foreign Ministry (Interpreter)
  • Secretary Henry A. Kissinger
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Middle East; US–GDR relations; Summit preparations; SALT; CSCE; MBFR; Trade; Brezhnev visit to Cuba; Pompidou and Brandt visits to USSR

[After a brief photo opportunity, the conversation began informally in the anteroom.]

Secretary Kissinger: I think we came out all right.

Minister Gromyko: When I talked with the General Secretary just before I left, he said it is all arranged on Zavidovo.

Secretary Kissinger: Good. It is a great place.

When I looked at the auspices question yesterday, I realized that you preferred what we would have preferred. I think we let the Egyptians maneuver between us. We had no interest in having UN auspices and we had a lot of trouble with the Israelis on this. We were lukewarm, and you were too, but neither of us wanted to take the responsibility for it.

I think the British and French were pushing it.

Minister Gromyko: Especially the French.

Secretary Kissinger: This is just for you: I’ve complained officially to the French for their behavior on the Middle East.

Minister Gromyko: Jobert never misses any forum to throw his arrows at us.

Secretary Kissinger: That is true.

Minister Gromyko: I asked him how many arrows he has sharpened for us!

[Vodka was served. Gromyko recommended a Belorussian vodka named for “bison herbs,” which prompted a discussion of bison, boar, and hunting.]

[Page 633]

Secretary Kissinger: Can you go hunting in Zavidovo in the winter?

Minister Gromyko: Yes. I went just before I left Moscow for Geneva.

Secretary Kissinger: We’ll get the Israeli military delegation here by Tuesday,2 just to talk.

Bunker will be back on Thursday. I’ve talked to Eban;3 he’ll have an Ambassador here.

You were right. It’ll be better that way.

[The group then moved to the dining room for the luncheon. The main topics of the conversation over lunch were eating, drinking and hunting.]

Secretary Kissinger: Ambassador Dobrynin has a good cook. We know sooner or later we will lose him [Dobrynin].

Minister Gromyko: You’d prefer later rather than sooner.

Secretary Kissinger: From our point of view. He is intelligent, reliable, a good friend of the United States.

Minister Gromyko: He played a role in the development of US-Soviet relations.

Secretary Kissinger: The Arab world is very new to me, Mr. Foreign Minister. I’ve no experience with it.

Minister Gromyko: You never dealt with them before?

Secretary Kissinger: I have never been in an Arab country and never had much dealings with them. I frankly thought I could get through my term of office and let someone else do it. To be honest. Now that I have started, I will finish it and with enthusiasm.

Minister Gromyko: It is an extremely complicated world.

Secretary Kissinger: Extremely. And you can’t count on every word they say. [Laughter]

Minister Gromyko: Should I comment or not?

Secretary Kissinger: [Laughter] No. That is why we should communicate; otherwise the confusion will be total.

Secretary Kissinger: Have you been in Africa? You might enjoy hunting there.

Minister Gromyko: I have been in Arab Africa, not black Africa.

Secretary Kissinger: In Algiers?

Minister Gromyko: In passing. I passed through there to attend the Crimean Conference [in 1945].

[Page 634]

Secretary Kissinger: I’ve always had respect for Stalin’s foreign policy. He had a long-range vision.

Minister Gromyko: I agree.

Secretary Kissinger: [Offers toast] To our cooperation.

Minister Gromyko: To our cooperation.

Secretary Kissinger: In 1938, 1939, were you in the Foreign Ministry?

Minister Gromyko: Just in 1939, I entered the Foreign Ministry. I was in the Academy of Sciences.

Secretary Kissinger: You had to make big decisions then. I think you were essentially right on the pact with Ribbentrop.4

Minister Gromyko: We didn’t have any reasonable choice. It was a pact for peace, for non-attack—not a pact to cooperate with someone else for attack. And we did it after all our attempts failed with the British and French.

Secretary Kissinger: One could say the pact made the war inevitable, but you had no reasonable choice.

There was very stupid leadership in Western Europe.

Minister Gromyko: Very shortsighted.

Secretary Kissinger: You needed some assurance. They had to decide whether to go to war with Hitler or not—but not to go to war half-heartedly and bargain with you over whether you could put your troops in Romania, etc.

If they had let him take Poland he would have attacked you next.

Minister Gromyko: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: Also, at the end of the war he showed great courage, when we had the atomic bomb.

He must have been difficult to deal with personally. People always said they were amazed how short he was when they met him.

Minister Gromyko: He was not really so short. He was about Viktor’s height—average. About 170–175 centimeters.

Secretary Kissinger: Oh really? I had the impression he was much smaller.

Minister Gromyko: But he was striking. So the first impression may be that he’s not tall. But maybe psychologically people expected him to be higher because of his power.

Secretary Kissinger: That must be true.

[Page 635]

Minister Gromyko: At closed meetings, Politburo meetings, it was his custom not to sit. He was always walking, slowly, slowly, speaking, slowly, slowly.

Secretary Kissinger: Did he encourage discussion?

Minister Gromyko: Certainly, certainly. And he listened patiently.

Secretary Kissinger: And he was intellectually in good condition until the end?

Minister Gromyko: Perfect.

Secretary Kissinger: He didn’t realize he was getting older?

Minister Gromyko: No. It was very sudden.

Secretary Kissinger: I only studied his foreign policy, not the details of his domestic policy.

Minister Gromyko: He was very sympathetic to President Roosevelt, from a human aspect.

Secretary Kissinger: After the war, where were you?

Minister Gromyko: I was First Deputy Foreign Minister.

Secretary Kissinger: Like Kuznetzov.

Minister Gromyko: Yes. Then I was Ambassador to Britain for a year.

Secretary Kissinger: You must have the longest tenure as Foreign Minister.

Minister Gromyko: No, I was just 49, in 1959. Just 15 years.

Secretary Kissinger: You are 64 already? You look younger.

Minister Gromyko: [Toasts] To youth!

Secretary Kissinger: To youth!

What is your idea about the time for the Summit next year?

Minister Gromyko: In the next room I will tell you. I swore to keep it a secret at this table.

Secretary Kissinger: Just not between June 13 and 27, because I will be in Germany, no matter what you do. That is the time of the World Cup football championship.

Minister Gromyko: To success of next year’s Summit meeting. [They toast]

Secretary Kissinger: To the success of the next Summit meeting.

Before I took this job, I had no feel for how Soviet leaders made decisions. It was just theoretical.

Minister Gromyko: Just in books.

Secretary Kissinger: What is important in your domestic situation, I think, is that when we tell you something, you write it down and you tell the whole Politburo. So it mustn’t be changed very easily, because it affects many people.

[Page 636]

Minister Gromyko: I’ve been concerned with American affairs for 30 years.

Secretary Kissinger: But you couldn’t have predicted what is happening in America this last year!

Minister Gromyko: No.

Secretary Kissinger: It’s unbelievable.

Minister Gromyko: Tomorrow I have to repay my courtesies to the Egyptian Foreign Minister and I invited him to come over in the afternoon to discuss some matters connected with the Middle East conference. So I leave the day after tomorrow,5 in the morning.

Secretary Kissinger: Ambassador Bunker will be here. He has lunch with Vinogradov.6 He leaves and will return on Monday. He’ll have a younger deputy, Sterner,7 for the time being, then someone else.

Minister Gromyko: When is your Ambassador going to Moscow?

Secretary Kissinger: In the end of January.

Minister Gromyko: Is he pleased?

Secretary Kissinger: Oh yes. I had an idea of sending Senator Cooper,8 as Ambassador Dobrynin may have told you. But he is practically deaf. So I thought it would be better to send a good professional. Stoessel is very good. I’ve known him a long time.

Minister Gromyko: He’s been there before?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes.

Minister Gromyko: I knew him when he was there as Consul.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. We’ll have an Ambassador in East Germany, too, if they let us have some property. There is some problem. If they attach importance to having the United States there, we’ll send an Ambassador immediately. The only problem is the property. We recognize they have difficulties; they have been very polite. But so far the property they have offered is inadequate.

Minister Gromyko: You will give them property in Washington?

Secretary Kissinger: The problem in Washington is different. They’ll have to buy it—but if they need assistance we will give it.

Minister Gromyko: Any problem with building the new structures in Washington and Moscow?

Secretary Kissinger: I have the impression it is no problem. Both yours and ours are too small now.

[Page 637]

Minister Gromyko: Before the Revolution, your building in Moscow was the personal chancery of a Russian Ambassador.

Secretary Kissinger: It is about the right size for that, but not for a whole Embassy.

Minister Gromyko: When I was in Washington once for a reception, they had to open up all private apartments on the third floor.

How is the State Department?

Secretary Kissinger: I’ve moved modern art in. If Rockefeller becomes President, you’ll see at Summit things you never saw before. I think the next time you come, you and I should spend a night at his estate.

Minister Gromyko: I knew him in wartime. He was Coordinator for Latin American affairs.

Secretary Kissinger: He has a good chance. He’s too old—usually—to run for President. But in 1976 the American people will want calm and experience. Kennedy will make them nervous.

Jackson has a good chance.

Minister Gromyko: [Puts hands over his ears]. I didn’t hear what you said.

Secretary Kissinger: Unfortunately he has a good chance. I’m violently opposed to him.

Minister Gromyko: Kennedy?

Secretary Kissinger: Kennedy will be a candidate but he will be defeated.

[At about 2:40 p.m., the luncheon ended and the group adjourned again to the anteroom].

Minister Gromyko: All right, let us take up some matters.

Secretary Kissinger: Good.

Minister Gromyko: First of all, I would like to emphasize one point in addition to all that I have already said. I had a long talk with General Secretary Brezhnev before I left for Geneva. Rest assured that the Soviet leadership and personally General Secretary Brezhnev, will strictly follow the line we’ve taken with the United States, the line first expressed in the Summit meetings in Moscow and the United States and in appropriate agreements and treaties. And to give you greater clarity on this point—and this gives you an insight into his character—General Secretary Brezhnev is a man who strictly keeps his word, and he has strong conviction on that score. I wanted to add that to everything else I’ve told you in Geneva.

Secretary Kissinger: I have talked to the President, as you did to your General Secretary, before I left, and he tells me to tell you that his policy is fixed, and that his greatest ambition is to make it irreversible [Page 638] during his term of office. And he is determined to continue it and even speed it up—and I may say, in spite of increasing domestic opposition.

Minister Gromyko: I’m extremely glad to hear that.

We certainly believe that both sides should conduct themselves with assurance, calmly, and without nervousness. There may be in the future, as in the past, forces in the United States and outside your country—and I am sure you know their addresses—to whom the further deepening of our relations will not be to their liking. We must certainly rise above the outlook of those forces and not be limited to the horizons visible to them. We have the ability to do that.

I want to add one other thing. We certainly understand and realize that the domestic situation in the United States is a fairly complex one, although we don’t lay any claim to being familiar to it in every detail. But we do regret that fact because we value very highly all we have achieved in our relations. We regret all these problems the President has on his hands and hope they’ll soon be a thing of the past. We hope he and those who help him—particularly you—will carry through.

Secretary Kissinger: Let me say that our domestic complexities, except [on] those [matters] requiring legislation, do not affect the day-to-day conduct of our foreign policy. Paradoxically it gives us greater freedom of action, because our opponents are afraid to attack everything. So let me assure you on behalf of the President that we will continue on our course.

Minister Gromyko: I am certainly very gratified to hear those remarks, and they serve to buttress the prospects ahead of us.

Now about the next Summit meeting, despite all the complexities that exist, including those you referred to, we—and particularly General Secretary Brezhnev—firmly stand by our line of bringing about this next Summit meeting. Our two powers have such profound and diversified interests, and we are both faced with such serious tasks in the development of bilateral relations between our two countries—and in the international field—that on no account must anything be done to prevent that meeting from being held. We are firmly in favor of holding the meeting with President Nixon in the Soviet Union, and we will do all in our power to hold that meeting and make it a success.

Secretary Kissinger: That is exactly our attitude.

Minister Gromyko: Very good. As regards timing, we believe the most appropriate time could be either the very end of May or the month of June. Actually, from our point of view June is the best, and I will try to explain why. Before that period, we would have certain events, including domestic events, which could divert attention from the meeting to a certain degree and in a way impede the preparations and the holding. It is a matter of convenience. Later, July, would also [Page 639] create complexities. It is a period of very intense activity in agriculture and in the economy generally, all of which would require the attention of all our leaders and personally of General Secretary Brezhnev. Economic activity all around the country, especially because of the diversity of our country. So June would be the optimal time, the most convenient time.

Secretary Kissinger: How about September?

Minister Gromyko: September would be less convenient precisely from that point of view.

Secretary Kissinger: We had not studied it. In principle, June will be possible. I will check with the President and then tell Dobrynin. The only concern I have is whether we’ll have enough of our work done in time for that meeting.

Minister Gromyko: That question can arise regardless of timing. If we can prepare adequately by September, we can do it by June also. In the Soviet Union, given the climatic conditions, the fall is a period of most intensive activity. Those are our views, but the President can think it over.

Secretary Kissinger: I will discuss it with the President, but in principle I think June or late May will be acceptable, particularly if we have the determination to do what has to be done.

Minister Gromyko: I certainly take note of what you say and will act accordingly.

Now, about the actual work in preparation for the meeting. We believe in that context we should give effect to the understanding reached on your visit to the Soviet Union. We attach great importance to your visit. And General Secretary Brezhnev said this to me specifically before I came to Geneva, having in mind my talks with you.

Secretary Kissinger: I appreciate this very much and I would be prepared to come at a time we can work out.

Minister Gromyko: That’s good. As for timing, we believe we can agree to set approximate dates towards the end of January or the first ten days or first half of February. The best possibility for us would be the first ten days in February.

Secretary Kissinger: That would be the best time for me too. Say between the 5th and the 10th. And I will make a concrete proposal to Dobrynin when I come back. But in that timeframe.

Minister Gromyko: Very well. Let’s proceed from that general understanding then, and abide by it.

Secretary Kissinger: Good.

Minister Gromyko: As regards the place of your meetings with the General Secretary, we suggest Zavidovo. It is a place that has already won some prestige in international affairs, and you have been there. [Page 640] With your agreement, I’ll inform the General Secretary. As regards the necessary communications with Washington, you are familiar with the communications last time.

Secretary Kissinger: We like the arrangement in Zavidovo very much, and if you can arrange the communications, that is fine. There is a small problem with the press because I am Secretary of State—but we can leave them in Moscow and just give them reports.

Minister Gromyko: As regards correspondents, we can leave that. It’s not important.

Now, as regards the problem of the agenda for the next Summit—and the agenda for the discussions with you, as your meeting will be in the context of preparations for the Summit—I would like to add a few words in addition to what we discussed at the UN General Assembly and when I was in Washington and met with the President.9

[Both drank glasses of cognac].

Secretary Kissinger: I am amazed [at his drinking]! Training!

Minister Gromyko: What comes to mind in this respect—and this is something I talked about in great detail with General Secretary Brezhnev—we’ll be at that time at a certain point as far as the Middle East is concerned. So certainly this has to be on the agenda as a major item.

Secretary Kissinger: No question. And in much better conditions than last time. Because if there is progress, so much the better, and if there is no progress, it will be all the more important for our two leaders to break the deadlock.

Minister Gromyko: We should put out of our head talk of no progress.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree. There will be progress, and we will be able to envisage the final outcome by then. There will be progress by the Spring.

Minister Gromyko: That is something that must be achieved.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree. It will be a much better discussion than last time.

Minister Gromyko: Then, of course, the question will surely arise of strategic arms and a possible new agreement on that score, the question of conversion of the provisional agreement into a permanent one. I recall great conviction and forcefulness with which the President spoke on this, in the summer with General Secretary Brezhnev and in the fall with me. We are certainly in favor of such new agreements and ar[Page 641]rangements. In fact, General Secretary Brezhnev was emphatic on this with me, and stressed the need to achieve this.

Secretary Kissinger: But how do we proceed? Because we’re not even in the same framework yet.

Minister Gromyko: We are certainly engaged in a very intensive study of this issue and we have made substantial progress in the formation of our positions in terms of the forthcoming Summit. You know as well as we know that our delegations in Geneva have made no substantive progress, and if you have any thoughts on this . . .

Secretary Kissinger: We lack a theory of what we’re trying to do. In the first SALT, we had a rough outline in terms of numbers and could work out the details. Now we don’t even have a rough idea of what we want to do.

Minister Gromyko: I would suggest the crux of the matter is not that we lack a theory to guide us in finding practical solutions. I think we have common premises, but we lack practical concepts to convert theory to practice. You said we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be thrown back. We both agree. We proceed from the assumption that we have traversed a very important path in the past by achieving the agreements already signed. For example, we are both in agreement that we are faced with the task of converting the provisional agreement into a permanent one, or else the task of elaborating or covering the provisional one in a new agreement.

Secretary Kissinger: Or extending it, for say ten years.

Minister Gromyko: At least there is no great theoretical difference. The task is to elaborate it to the point of figures.

Secretary Kissinger: And criteria. Have you any ideas?

Minister Gromyko: When you mentioned figures at one time to our Ambassador, you said that you might add something to the considerations you gave. Then you said it was not precisely a promise to give new considerations. Do you have or don’t you have something new, just so we know?

Secretary Kissinger: What figures do you mean?

Minister Gromyko: You mentioned certain figures concerning the Far East, China. You said you might add something—and you even had certain figures—to take into account the Far East. Do you have any precise considerations on this?

Secretary Kissinger: [Picks up briefing papers10 and reads them to himself]. I just wanted to review some figures. [Reads]. In the context of some limitation on MIRV, for example, if we said that each side had [Page 642] equal throwweight of MIRVs, we might be able to consider some inequality in numbers—not in a permanent but in an extended provisional agreement. For example, if we said you could put MIRVs on . . . The difficulty is that your missiles have more MIRVs—you have four and we have three. Sometimes you have even more than four. Suppose we said the throwweight of MIRVs should be about equal, then you could MIRV somewhat fewer missiles but we could live with some inequality in numbers—including the ones with single warheads. If you MIRV 300 and we MIRV 500, because of the inequality of the number of warheads, then we would not insist on your reducing the overall number of your missiles. You could keep your 1400 and we could keep our 1100—but you would MIRV 300 and we would MIRV 500. We would not ask you to reduce your number.

Minister Gromyko: When you say “extended provisional agreement,” you mean a “reviewed” provisional agreement, or in terms of time?

Secretary Kissinger: In terms of time. But with these new figures.

Minister Gromyko: With these new figures. [Viktor translates Kissinger’s presentation into Russian]. And how about compensation for the Chinese factor?

Secretary Kissinger: We cannot compensate for that in words—but you would have 1400 missiles and we would have 1100, so you would have 300 more than we.

Minister Gromyko: Yes, but then you say you will MIRV 500 of yours while we MIRV 300. That makes the total throwweight equal. Therefore the question of compensation for our geographic factor doesn’t come into the picture. And there is no mention of your forward-based missiles. The geographic factor is in your favor.

Secretary Kissinger: With regard to the first point, the total throwweight of the MIRV’d missiles will be equal. The total throwweight of all missiles will be strongly in your favor.

Minister Gromyko: What I am asking is, does that mean you are ignoring the forward-based strategic arms altogether, or simply haven’t reached that question?

Secretary Kissinger: Let me distinguish two things. The Chinese factor is included—we have to be more precise with the figures in a negotiation—because the MIRV’d missiles are equal but on top of that you have 900 more and we have 600. Those 300 should certainly compensate for the Chinese factor.

Minister Gromyko: You are approaching that question from an end angle, as it were. The Chinese factor is taken care of in that calculation. It’s built into this calculation.

[Page 643]

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. You’ll see when you study these figures. It gives you an overall advantage in throwweight and an overall advantage in numbers. It gives a certain equality in MIRVs.

Minister Gromyko: I understand you sort of built that factor into that calculation so it doesn’t poke out of the sack to be visible. But you have elsewhere your forward-based missiles—your heavy bombers, submarines, intermediate-range rockets, and other types of weapons. Is it right that you’ve eased them out of the picture? We shouldn’t leave that out, especially after blini.

Secretary Kissinger: I haven’t fully studied it. But you have certain weapons that can reach these countries. I haven’t studied it fully.

Minister Gromyko: I ask all these questions because we do want to find a common language on this issue. You mentioned figures to our Ambassador some time ago—figures that were supposed to serve as compensation for Chinese factor. I was prepared to say we do not exclude reaching agreement on that basis.

Secretary Kissinger: What figures do you have in mind?

Minister Gromyko: You mentioned 200 additional. The principle itself which you mentioned at that time—but the figures weren’t enough—but I was prepared to say that.

Secretary Kissinger: The principle is still acceptable.

Minister Gromyko: But not the figures.

Secretary Kissinger: I understand.

Minister Gromyko: But now, when you formulated your remarks, your ideas suggest you want to place us in an equal position in one area but you fail to mention other areas.

Secretary Kissinger: Only MIRV. Beyond MIRV you have the advantage.

Minister Gromyko: But you leave out an entire area. Perhaps you can give this further thought and convey your views to our Ambassador. Preferably before your visit.

Secretary Kissinger: Definitely.

Minister Gromyko: Because this is a field in which one has to be objective because it is so important.

Secretary Kissinger: Definitely before the end of January. If you have any new ideas, let me know through Dobrynin, so we can study it.

Minister Gromyko: Yes, but we will await your ideas.

Now on European problems.

Your representatives and ours at CSCE are in contact with each other, but we believe your representatives, even if they take a position favorable to success, should be nevertheless a little more active in [Page 644] bringing that success about. Particularly in view of the Summit. Because we should approach this Summit with more progress in this area.

Secretary Kissinger: I will call our representative back and talk to him personally.

Minister Gromyko: We would appreciate it. We should do our very best, both sides, to bring this to a conclusion before March. Even the pessimists thought it could not end before March.

Secretary Kissinger: We are not the problem. The Europeans are crazy on the subject of human contact. I’ve told you I believe you are serious people and won’t be undermined by the introduction of newspapers in the Soviet Union. I’ll speak to our representative personally. He’s not in Washington now, but I’ll bring him back and speak with him. There should not be slow progress.

Minister Gromyko: Just in brief on the subject of the negotiations on the reduction of forces and armaments in Central Europe, we can in a sense understand why some pose the question in this way: “Let’s just set a ceiling and both go down to that ceiling and just cut off everything above that.” We’re convinced that kind of approach will yield no positive results; we need a more realistic approach. We need to keep the present alignment—preserving that correlation of forces, and non-harming each other, we can find some success.

You have said it will be a long journey; we agree it will be long. We for our part have patience.

Secretary Kissinger: If the correlation is the same but at a lower level, this gives a certain advantage for the offensive side. One approach is agreement in principle on a common ceiling and in the first step have a symmetrical cut, say 10–15 percent each.

Minister Gromyko: I should want to ask you to take another look at that entire area and at the positions made known by countries in Vienna. We were surprised by the oversimplicity of some Western nations in the talks. Perhaps you are not familiar with all the details.

Secretary Kissinger: Did I make that obvious?

Minister Gromyko: I said “perhaps.”

So probably some of the countries are proceeding from the fact that this road will be a long one. If so, neither of us should regard that as a tragedy, even if it is long.

Secretary Kissinger: I’ve scheduled a review meeting when I get back. Then I’ll have a more considered view.

Minister Gromyko: I appreciate it. A few words on trade and economic relations.

We certainly regret the situation that has developed in the U.S. Congress and the impediments erected in the way of resolving this question in Congress. It is a sad thing that the understandings made by [Page 645] the President have not had effect. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union—and the General Secretary made this emphatic to me before I left—we appreciate very highly, very highly, the effort made by the President and Secretary Kissinger. The General Secretary made this point specifically to me. We note the statement of President Nixon that this problem—extension of MFN—will be resolved next Spring and the barriers to trade will be eliminated.

This is a reciprocal question, a two-way question—we’re not standing with outstretched hands. It is to our mutual benefit.

Secretary Kissinger: We are in complete agreement. We have a common enemy—Senator Jackson. I speak frankly with you. We have no disagreement in principle or in practice. I have talked to Senator Fulbright and in January we’ll start a publicity campaign by starting open hearings.

You are entirely right. We promised it to you. We owe it to you. And you are right that it is a reciprocal question. It is natural for two great powers, and especially for two great cooperative powers.

The President will certainly not sign the restrictive provisions now in it. He has said this publicly.

Minister Gromyko: To become law he must sign it?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes.

Minister Gromyko: We’ll have to wait and see how events go, hoping for a favorable outcome in the meantime.

Secretary Kissinger: Exactly.

Minister Gromyko: Before we end, I would like to give you a piece of information on some matters. This is also something General Secretary Brezhnev asked me to convey to President Nixon through you.

You know many Soviet leaders have visited Cuba. But there has never been a visit by the General Secretary of the Central Committee. The General Secretary intends to visit Cuba sometime in January. No agreements, political or economic, will be signed. It will be of a general political nature, and will not in the slightest way have any anti-American character. On the contrary, it will promote, as we see it, a better climate for relations between Cuba and the United States.

Secretary Kissinger: I appreciate that very much. The General Secretary was kind enough to hint at that during his visit.

Minister Gromyko: Yes, but not the timing.

Secretary Kissinger: May I say a personal word? This is personal, not official. Our President is usually calm and detached on all other issues, but on Cuba he is very emotional. This doesn’t affect the fact of the visit—but the public manifestations. This is a personal word.

Minister Gromyko: The second point of information for the President is that there is a possibility, I repeat, a possibility, of a working [Page 646] visit by President Pompidou of France to the Soviet Union, sometime in February. A brief working visit. There is no specific agenda for the meeting; it is just a general political meeting.

Secretary Kissinger: I appreciate that. As long as he’s not in Zavidovo when I am there. [Laughter].

Minister Gromyko: A third point of information is there is a possibility of a short working visit to the Soviet Union sometime in the Spring by Chancellor Brandt. There is a possibility of another, or instead, a visit in the second half of the year.

Those are three items I wanted to convey, of course in strict confidence.

Secretary Kissinger: Of course. I want to thank you for not only the fact of this information but the spirit. Especially on the Middle East. It is more reliable if we talk to each other instead of learning from the Egyptians.

Minister Gromyko: I appreciate the spirit in which you receive it.

In conclusion, you think the French, in particular Mr. Jobert, have many arrows for us—not only our auspices but our relations generally. Because I note your relations are a little softer.

Secretary Kissinger: Cooler. In practice, though in form, friendly.

But what they don’t know they can’t use against us.

Minister Gromyko: We certainly regret that they take such a pained attitude toward our relations, because they certainly cause France no harm.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree.

Minister Gromyko: We will see you in February. Please convey warm regards from me to President Nixon. From the General Secretary I have already conveyed warm regards.

Secretary Kissinger: And from the President to you and to the General Secretary.

[The meeting thereupon ended and Foreign Minister Gromyko escorted Secretary Kissinger downstairs and to his car].

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 71, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Gromyko, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at the Soviet Mission. Brackets are in the original. Kissinger and Gromyko were attending the Middle East Peace Conference.
  2. December 25.
  3. Abba Eban, Israeli Foreign Minister.
  4. A reference to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, also known as the Treaty of Non-Aggression Between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
  5. December 24.
  6. Vladimir Vinogradov, Soviet Ambassador to Egypt.
  7. Michael Sterner, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
  8. John Sherman Cooper, Republican Senator from Kentucky until 1972; appointed Ambassador to the German Democratic Republic on September 19, 1974.
  9. See Document 137.
  10. Not found.