197. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the USA
  • Georgiy M. Korniyenko, Member of the Collegium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chief of USA Division
  • Oleg Krokhalev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Zaitsev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (interpreter)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Amb. Walter J. Stoessel, US Ambassador to the USSR
  • Major General Brent Scowcroft, USAF, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • William G. Hyland, Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
  • Harold H. Saunders, NSC Senior Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Communiqué [Middle East and SALT Sections]

Kissinger: Now you will know exactly what our policy in the Middle East is.

[Page 1003]

Gromyko: Your policy in the Middle East is much more complicated than at first glance.

[Mr. Lapin, head of Soviet television, comes in to whisper something to Gromyko. Technicians go in and out from the adjoining room—the Green Room—which is to be used for the President’s TV address at 7:00 p.m.]2

About television. This is the empire of Comrade Lapin. When the President speaks, something between 15–20 minutes, the interpreter will be sitting right here.

Kissinger: But we will be finished by then.

Gromyko: If not, we will have to sit here very quietly.

Kissinger: I have an idea. When the President speaks, you and I will have a terrible quarrel—“Never, Gromyko, will I ever agree!” Then we will run out through that door. [Laughter]

We will finish in half an hour.

The Middle East is already finished. [See US-proposed draft at Tab A]3

Gromyko: No. About dropping the Palestinians, that I can swallow. But I can’t agree to drop “interested parties.”

Kissinger: It is very simple: We don’t want any phrase in this communiqué—so we don’t waste time—that leaves the issue of controversial parties. The issue of participation will be decided by the Conference.

Gromyko: To exclude the parties concerned, we can’t agree. Just as at the first stage, we spoke about interested parties. We spoke, all of us, about them.

Kissinger: Where?

Gromyko: Everywhere. We made a statement in the Soviet Union—“the parties concerned will participate,” though not all of them.

Kissinger: We don’t care what you say.

Gromyko: It is not enough. It is an anti-Palestinian position carried to the extreme.

Kissinger: No, it is not.

Gromyko: Let’s find a compromise position.

Kissinger: It is impossible. By saying “the parties concerned,” that’s a euphemism for the Palestinians.

[Page 1004]

Gromyko: We would not give an interpretation of this. We would make no official statements. No interpretation of this kind would be given by us, and I declare this to you. But please don’t bring to an extreme this anti-Palestinian position.

Kissinger: It is not an anti-Palestinian position. We will say nothing. Just “conclude its work.”

Gromyko: It is not clear if you just omit the Palestinians. It is more logical if the first stage doesn’t, but the Conference doesn’t go only to the first stage. It is not detrimental to you.

Kissinger: The subsequent stages we can settle in Geneva. We don’t have to settle that here.

Gromyko: We are not interested only in the first three days. We are talking about the duration of it as an institution. Mr. Kissinger, it is not against your position. You said it, that you permit it in the future. If you are talking only about the first stage, I would turn the paper over. Two–three days give nothing.

Kissinger: Besides, I thought the idea you gave at the swimming pool was interesting, that the Ambassadors speak first.4

Gromyko: You have no grounds for objection.

Kissinger: I just accepted it. How can I have objections?

Gromyko: I mean mention of the Palestinians.

Kissinger: If you mean states, no problem. If you want to include “parties,” the intention is obvious.

Gromyko: We don’t conceal our intentions. The sooner the better, that is what we say.

Kissinger: You can say that anyway. You can say in your judgment the Palestinians should be invited. There is nothing in this text that excludes the Palestinians.

Gromyko: This document is bilateral, and we do not insist on the participation of the Palestinians. Probably I acted in a wrong way when I was flexible in other matters; probably you thought this was an ad infinitum proposition.

Kissinger: Not at all.

Gromyko: This doesn’t reflect even your position. We are talking about the Conference as an institution. We don’t subdivide it—2nd, 3rd, 10th stage.

Kissinger: None of this we contest. We just don’t think it should be settled in the Soviet-American Communiqué.

[Page 1005]

Gromyko: I do not agree. These aren’t the motives you are speaking about now.

Kissinger: What do you think our motives are?

Gromyko: I don’t know. But your motives aren’t your position. You said yourself the Palestinians will participate at a later stage.

Kissinger: As a possibility.

Gromyko: But a possibility that is completely turned from reality.

Kissinger: We are at this point not prepared to take a position on this.

Gromyko: But if you take that position, it is the opposite of ours. We don’t think it is possible to settle the question of the Palestinians without the participation of the Palestinians.

Kissinger: That is probably true but that is not the issue we face now.

Gromyko: Then you have to take back your statement that you put the question over participation of the Palestinians.

Kissinger: I just want to leave it so you can say what you want and we can say what we want.

Gromyko: In this case, the question will not be agreed. Let’s pass to the next question.

Kissinger: Then how will it be expressed in the Communiqué?

Korniyenko: “With the participation of all the parties concerned.”

Kissinger: That we already rejected.

Gromyko: Without deciphering it. That you don’t say the Soviet Union agreed the Palestinians should not participate.

Kissinger: We are not trying to maneuver you into saying the Palestinians should not participate. We don’t want to be maneuvered into a position either.

Gromyko: We won’t lure you anywhere. Why not this? In the spirit that you accept our understanding?

Kissinger: It is an impossibility for us. It is an enormous domestic problem and its only purpose is to start a debate. Why don’t we say nothing so you can say what you want?

Gromyko: But there is a reasonable sense. How can you object to participation of all the parties concerned?

Kissinger: We won’t be able to say that the Palestinians are not concerned.

Gromyko: We won’t ascribe it to you.

Kissinger: Our approach is that we fight an appropriate battle at an appropriate time, and this is not the time. If we get harassed, there will be a stalemate; this is the history of the Middle East.

[Page 1006]

Gromyko: But the specifics of the situation is that you say you are harassed but in reality there is none.

Kissinger: You know if we do this, it would turn your Ambassador’s new friend totally against us, and I don’t want to make things difficult for him in Washington.

Gromyko: We can’t adjust our position to one or another shouter in the United States.

Kissinger: We are not asking you to adjust your position. I don’t exclude the time will come for an appropriate role for the Palestinians.

Gromyko: You will stick to the position you hold; we to ours—that the Palestinians must participate. But we won’t say the Communiqué means the Americans assent to our interpretation. How can the Soviet Union take out the phrase and the United States came out against their participation?

Kissinger: We won’t put something like this into a Soviet-U.S. document. We are not stupid; we may be complicated.

Gromyko: Let’s put down honest positions.

Kissinger: I want to put down vague positions, to keep open the possibility of movement at a time we are ready.

Gromyko: It is not a question of vagueness or not vagueness.

Let’s pass to another question.

Kissinger: We can’t accept yours. But why don’t we see if we can find—

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: It is only that one clause. I will check the letter of invitation we both sent out last year, and see if we can find one phrase we can lift.5

Korniyenko: There was the phrase: “The question of participation will be settled at the first stage.”

Kissinger: Korniyenko, you made a mistake. The first stage is over, and the question is settled.

Korniyenko: It was left open.

Kissinger: You have two choices. Either you harass us, and we will go into every delaying action, and you won’t succeed. Or you will leave it open.

It is unavoidable that they will be drawn into it.

[Page 1007]

Gromyko: But the Conference lasts as an institution. The question of the moment of time of their participation is another matter, for a later time perhaps. But of course we favor it.

Kissinger: What I am willing to do, Mr. Foreign Minister—I have no interest in embarrassing you—let’s look at that letter we sent out. “The participants will be settled at the Conference.” “The Conference will decide the appropriate participants.”

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: [To Saunders] Go find it. [Saunders goes out.]

[The Soviets confer on the SALT section—Tab B]6

Kissinger: Accepted?

Gromyko: Nothing is added.

Kissinger: That is what I feared.

[Gromyko hands back a text with deletions. See Tab B. Kissinger reads it.]

Mr. Minister, to save time, I will accept removal of “an equitable.” I will accept removal of “at the earliest possible date.” I think we need words “well before.”

Dobrynin: In Russian it’s “very early before.”

Kissinger: The trouble is, if you say “before the expiration of,” the way this will be interpreted in America is: Before, we said we would achieve a comprehensive agreement before the expiration; now, if we say only an eight-year agreement, it is a step back, not a step forward. Why don’t we say “at the earliest possible date before the expiration of the Interim Agreement”? We have taken it out up there.

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: We will take out “including the number of missiles with MIRVs.” Frankly, this and ten cents will get us a cup of coffee. In the subsequent negotiations, whether there is a sentence in here or not, I can’t use this against you.

Gromyko: Yesterday, my impression was that it may take the imagination of peoples, the idea of a long[-term] agreement. 1985.

Kissinger: What the General Secretary said, that the delegations meet, and 1985, may take people’s imagination. But this phrase won’t affect the negotiations.

Gromyko: It won’t make any difference.

Kissinger: That is what I am saying.

Gromyko: I will report to my colleagues.

[Page 1008]

Dobrynin: Maybe the Palestinians should be in the SALT negotiations.

Kissinger: They already have anti-aircraft missiles.

We have only the Middle East. I suggest we sit apart from each other at dinner. Then we can shout at each other.

[The meeting then ended. A redraft of the Middle East portion was drafted by Mr. Saunders before dinner, and accepted by Gromyko. Tab C.]7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 77, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Memcons, Moscow Summit, June 27–July 3, 1974. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in St. Catherine’s Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Brackets are in the original.
  2. The President delivered an address to the people of the Soviet Union on TV and radio. The address was broadcast simultaneously in the United States. For the text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1974, pp. 559–563.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. A reference to the U.S. and Soviet letter to the UN Secretary General inviting participants to the Geneva Conference. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXV, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1973 War, Document 400.
  6. Attached but not printed.
  7. Attached but not printed.