177. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee, CPSU and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the United States
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • HAKGromyko Meeting in Mideast; Syrian-Israeli Disengagement; Palestinians; Jackson Amendment

HAKGromykoMeeting in Mideast

Gromyko: So you will travel up to the 7th-8th-9th?

Kissinger: My present thought is I will be back on the 10th.2 But I will stop in Europe.

Gromyko: You think we might join? I am not pressing.

Kissinger: I do not exclude that we might join. I will make a definite proposal on the 4th. Between the 7th and the 10th.

Gromyko: I may go to Syria maybe one day, maybe two, maybe four. We have not agreed on any date.

It does not interfere with you, as well as your trip does not interfere with mine. If you think it would be a good idea to meet, if you will let me know.

Kissinger: Do you exclude meeting, for example, in Cyprus?

Gromyko: In Cyprus? [Thinks] You like the vegetation in Cyprus?

Kissinger: I have never been there.

Gromyko: And you like ancient ruins? In a suitable mood.

Kissinger: It gets us into one of the few disputes we are not in.

Gromyko: Of course, my preference would be in the Middle East, in Syria. I have not discussed it with them.

Kissinger: Nor have we.

[Page 871]

Gromyko: I have not rejected Cyprus.

Kissinger: My idea is, we have so difficult a time in Jerusalem this week, that if you can avoid being in Damascus while I am there . . . So it will not inflame things.

Gromyko: You will be there when?

Kissinger: On the 2nd. It will be difficult.

Gromyko: Of course, it will not interfere with my holiday.

Kissinger: May 1st.

Gromyko: Now it is four days! We are a Socialist country. A capitalist country could not afford such a practice.

Kissinger: You will hear from me by noon Saturday,3 Washington time.

Dobrynin: Yes.

Gromyko: Do they have good airports in Cyprus?

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: A hot climate?

Kissinger: Moderate climate.

Gromyko: It is of secondary importance. Let us not exclude this possibility.

Kissinger: I will conduct myself with an attitude of emphasizing coordinated activity. I will not encourage an attitude of Soviet exclusion. The reality cannot be this anyway.

Today there is a vicious Israeli press campaign against me. That I am here to sell them out.

Gromyko: The difference between your statements and ours is this: Your statement emphasizes cooperation. We say: “Of course we are ready to cooperate with the U.S. and in contact with the countries concerned.” You say, “Of course we do not exclude the possibility of cooperation with the Soviet Union.” Or, “Soviet Union did not do anything bad.” Always understatement, understatement, understatement.

Kissinger: I understand.

Gromyko: At your last press conference4 you said something positive, but it was so reserved. I may hold my right ear with my right hand but not my left ear.

Kissinger: In the American context, it was as far as I could go without inflaming the situation. Our press corps does not believe me. They believe Dinitz. Anatoli’s friend.

[Page 872]

Seriously, we have strongly urged them to do it. They asked our opinion, and were reluctant. We strongly urged them. It is an excellent idea.

Dobrynin: I will have lunch with him.

Kissinger: I do not believe in losing battles.

Syrian-Israeli Disengagement

Gromyko: Disengagement.

Kissinger: I believe in seeking the maximum that is attainable in each stage.

Gromyko: Tell me frankly, will Israel go beyond the present proposal?

Kissinger: If they do not, it is very gloomy. I have not decided whether this press campaign is to justify not going beyond the present proposal, or whether it is to show how tough they are so they can.

We will try to make them go beyond the present proposal. It would be helpful if you could urge the Syrians to be restrained.

I will let you know what their proposal is when I get one. In general, my view is they have to go beyond the October 6 line.

Gromyko: We do not understand Israel’s idea. They are living not on earth, maybe in another galaxy.

Dobrynin: The Minister said 60 percent withdrawal. What do you think would be a reasonable compromise?

Kissinger: About 20–25 percent. It depends on whether you count the salient. The salient we think has to be given up completely.

Gromyko: When the Conference will start to work? And the Military Group? At once after the groups start, or after the conclusion of a formal agreement?

Kissinger: Once we have the conclusion of an agreement in principle, the formal agreement will be very quick. By mid-June, the Conference will start. With preliminary meetings of our two Ambassadors.

Gromyko: You are seeing Egyptian President Sadat—I was going to say your friend Sadat . . .

Kissinger: [Laughs] I remember when he was calling you brother, so . . . I am seeing him Tuesday night.5 My view is, a change in 180° in one direction can be followed by a change in 180° in the other direction, and we do not base U.S.-Soviet relations on the maneuvers of secondary powers. If you saw the records of our conversations, we have urged great restraint. None of these statements is encouraged by us, to put it mildly.

[Page 873]

Gromyko: You see his statements: one, the Soviet Union always restrained Egypt.

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: And second, the Soviet Union did not fulfill its pledges on arms.

Kissinger: We consider those things for which you are attacked to be positive things.

[Nancy6 comes in. There is social conversation from 1:00 to 1:05 p.m.]

The Palestinians

Gromyko: About the Palestinians, when we meet at the Conference, do we quarrel? Will we collide, or will we agree? Do the Palestinians speak for themselves, or with translators?

Kissinger: It depends on the stage at which it is introduced. We do not quarrel with the evolution. I do not quarrel with the statement you just made.

Gromyko: The Arab countries will take the logical position.

Kissinger: Probably. We will probably establish some contact with them.

Gromyko: You have?

Kissinger: We have received some information from them, but we will have contact after Syrian disengagement.

Jackson Amendment

You have to assess our domestic context and the Israeli context. In that context, you will have to admit we have followed a course in the interest of Soviet-American relations.

On Trade and the Export-Import Bank. So far, they have not linked emigration and Ex-Im. As soon as I return, I am working along two lines: Senator Cranston7 is organizing what will look like a movement of the rank and file, and I am working with the leadership, to get an agreed compromise.

The time frame is by the time I return—I am not suggesting you do something, but that is the correct time frame if you do something.

One issue that concerns them is numbers.

The General Secretary said to me and to Kennedy that everybody without a security clearance can go.

Gromyko: We told you.

[Page 874]

Kissinger: Yes. If it were possible for me to . . .

Gromyko: You can say this.

Kissinger: If I could give an estimate—not confirmed by you—of what this means in numbers.

Gromyko: What would you say?

Kissinger: Last year it was 35,000.

Gromyko: Right.

Kissinger: If I could say 40–45,000.

Gromyko: For what period?

Kissinger: For a year.

Gromyko: What year?

Dobrynin: For the whole year.

Kissinger: As a yardstick.

Kissinger: He attacked me for détente with the Soviet Union. When I say the way to prevent nuclear war is better cooperation with the Soviet Union, he says I am encouraging the Soviet Union to threaten nuclear war, and I am yielding to Soviet totalitarian methods.

Dobrynin: On harassment, this fellow Levitch,8 who organized the group for Kennedy, was working in sensitive areas. He was let off; so he had two months vacation with pay, doing nothing. His job is the same.

Kissinger: Can I say this percentage given by the General Secretary means in the area of 40–45,000?

Dobrynin: Yes.

Kissinger: Second, can you tell me the answer on geographical areas, that it is not discrimination?

Dobrynin: Yes.

Kissinger: Third, whatever you want to tell me on what they call harassment.

With these assurances, I have a good chance to turn around the Jackson Amendment and almost a certain chance on credits.

On credits, they will be in the form of Congress having an opportunity to vote in 30 days. It almost never happens. You remember the debt rescheduling with India, which many Senators opposed; they never could organize.

With the Jackson Amendment, we will make a judgment either to defeat it and pass the bill, or kill the whole bill and start again in Jan[Page 875]uary. If we pass the bill, it will mean credits have already been taken care of in the Ex-Im bill9 and Jackson will apply only to trade.

Cranston was prepared to introduce the whole thing in the Ex-Im bill, but it was too dangerous.

Nobody will introduce anything until I get back. Jackson or Stevenson10 may introduce a restrictive amendment on credits. Nothing will happen until I return.

Gromyko: When will you know?

Kissinger: On credits, by the summit. On trade, the trends will become quite clear by the summit.

Gromyko: What is the President’s situation?

Kissinger: As I told your Ambassador yesterday, the court verdict yesterday [Mitchell–Stans acquittal]11 will greatly strengthen the President. It will greatly affect the climate. Today the President is making a speech disclosing the evidence;12 he thinks it will be helpful.

There is a climate now that is composed of conservatives and intellectuals, particularly Jewish intellectuals, who think if they attack us, particularly me, on the Middle East, they can kill détente and our Middle East policy.

I did not fight for a couple of months because the time was not right. I have agreed with Kennedy to coordinate against Jackson. I have attacked Jackson twice last week—once by my statement, once by a State Department statement, and Reston wrote two articles.13

Fulbright is organizing public hearings—nationally televised—on détente.

With all of this, plus disengagement in the Middle East, we will be in a strong position.

Gromyko: On this question of impeachment.

[Page 876]

Kissinger: My judgment is it is impossible to get a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Impossible. I do not see how. And I do not think he may be impeached in the House.

Gromyko: The press tries to create that impression.

Kissinger: My estimate is 52 to 48 against impeachment. But it could happen.

Dobrynin: But it is close.

Kissinger: It is close. I have not seen what his evidence is.

Gromyko: This Michigan thing.

Kissinger: You can use it to prove anything. Before the President campaigned, he was ten percent behind; he ended up three percent behind.

If he is not impeached by the House, he can turn opinion around fairly easily. If he is impeached, it will be more difficult, but he will still do it.

Gromyko: On the next meeting.

Kissinger: There is no question on our side. You can count on its not being cancelled. And I suggest, when I come back we can announce the dates. Around the 13th, we can do it. The plan is to arrive on the 24th, and stay until the 20th or 1st. Six or seven days.

Gromyko: Can we issue a statement now?

Kissinger: If you want, or brief the press. We can say it was friendly and constructive and we made progress on a number of issues.

Gromyko: I told Korniyenko to do something. Maybe you could do something.

Kissinger: Sonnenfeldt.

[At 1:35 p.m., they get up to go to lunch. They pause in the doorway.]

Gromyko: This word “impeachment,” it was never known to us before.

Kissinger: I think it is like on Vietnam—the public does not really like it but they do not know what the truth is. I think it may turn. There was an article in The New York Times Magazine yesterday on Rodino,14 saying that when he goes around his district, people say he will be in trouble for what he is doing. If you read our press on Vietnam, you would think we did not have ten percent of the vote.

Dobrynin: We think, on détente, you are really not aggressive enough in promoting it.

[Page 877]

Kissinger: But now we will start.

Dobrynin: Yes.

Gromyko: And foreign policy is your strongest point.

Kissinger: Absolutely.

[They then proceeded to join the luncheon group.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 71, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Gromyko, 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s suite in the Intercontinental Hotel. Brackets are in the original.
  2. After Kissinger’s departure from Geneva, he traveled to Algeria on April 29 and 30; Egypt, April 30 and May 1; Israel, May 2 and 3; Syria, May 3; Israel, May 4; Jordan, May 5 and 6; Cyprus, May 7; Saudi Arabia, May 9; and Egypt, May 9 and 10.
  3. May 4. No record of that message has been found.
  4. For the text of the April 26 press conference, see Department of State Bulletin, May 20, 1974, pp. 537–546.
  5. April 30.
  6. Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, whom Kissinger married on March 30, 1974.
  7. Alan Cranston, Democratic Senator from California.
  8. Not further identified.
  9. The Export-Import Bank Bill, passed by the Senate on September 19, required advance notice to Congress if credits of more than $60 million were granted to any nation and limited new commitments to Soviet exports to $30 million. (Congress and the Nation, Vol. IV, 1973–1976, pp. 134–136)
  10. Adlai Stevenson, Democratic Senator from Illinois.
  11. John Mitchell, former Attorney General, and Maurice Stans, former Secretary of Commerce were found not guilty of interfering in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation of Robert Vesco. (Martin Arnold, “Mitchell and Stans Are Acquitted on all Counts After 48-Day Trial,” The New York Times, April 29, 1974, p. 69)
  12. On April 29, Nixon addressed the nation to announce his answer to a Congressional subpoena for additional tape recordings. For the full text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1974, pp. 389–397.
  13. See James Reston, “Kissinger and Jackson,” The New York Times, April 26, 1974, p. 37; and James Reston, “Two who need own arms talk,” Chicago Tribune, April 28, 1974, p. A6.
  14. See James M. Naughton, “The First Judgment,” The New York Times, April 28, 1974, p. 289. Peter Rodino, Democratic Representative from New Jersey, was Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.