198. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU
  • Nikolay V. Podgorny, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
  • Aleksey N. Kosygin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to the USA
  • Georgi M. Korniyenko, Member of the Collegium of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chief of USA Division
  • Andrei Aleksandrov, Assistant to the General Secretary
  • Leonid M. Zamyatin, Director General of TASS
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Interpreter
  • Andrei Vavilov, Interpreter
  • President Nixon
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Amb. Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Ambassador to the Soviet Union
  • General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., USA (Ret.), Assistant to the President
  • Ronald L. Ziegler, Assistant to the President and Press Secretary
  • Major General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • William G. Hyland, Director, INR
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor, Department of State
  • Jan M. Lodal, NSC Senior Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • US-Soviet Relations

Brezhnev: Good morning, Mr. President.

We agreed this fine morning to have a summing up, then to sign the documents still remaining, and then to end this meeting with a big reception which our government is arranging in your honor.

But first I have the very pleasant task on behalf of all my colleagues to make a general conclusion [summing up] the work we have done. We believe a lot of useful work has been done. Putting it briefly, it is a [Page 1010] continuation of the talks and the documents signed in 1972 and 1973. In all that we said, in all our discussions, speeches and documents will be found the foundations for future development of good relations between our two countries. Of course, at the same time we do have to admit we have not reached definitive conclusions on all the subjects we have discussed. However, we would like you to agree with us that whatever contacts and relationships we have in the future, they should be built on the joint great goal we have mentioned in our speeches—preventing any form of confrontation between our two nations, let alone war. And therefore all of us present here, and all members of the leadership of our Party and State treat with a feeling of human confidence all your statements, Mr. President, regarding friendship and cooperation between our two countries. And we believe, Mr. President, that your Administration and all your officials of various ranks will be working with us in that direction, on your instructions.

Naturally, we include here all the questions we discussed, including our joint active role in the European Security Conference and in the Middle East.

Perhaps in these very brief remarks I have not covered all of the ground, but I do believe that what I’ve said forms the basis for the future. And that is why in speaking yesterday at your dinner, in behalf of our entire leadership, I voiced our gratitude to all those who have assisted us in this very difficult but very useful work.2

Mr. President, that is in brief what I wanted to say to you before we go in to sign the final document.

President Nixon: I think the General Secretary’s summary is very complete and very accurate. I think our disappointment in not being able to reach a more definitive agreement in regard to strategic weapons is understandable, but it is a matter we both agree deserves our most urgent attention so we can get this arms race under control before it’s too late. In the international field, I think our greatest danger lies not in misunderstandings in our bilateral relations, but in our being dragged into confrontation on matters in other parts of the world where each of us has an interest. We all remember how the situation in Southeast Asia poisoned our relations for a period of seven or eight years, and we can see how the development of problems there, or, say, a new attempt by India to move on Pakistan, could again put us in opposite positions. It is inevitable that we, being the realists we are on [Page 1011] both sides of this table, may tend to have different friends in different parts of the world. The fact that each of us may have different friends among the weaker, smaller nations should not in any way be allowed to make each of us less friendly in our bilateral relations. We must always keep [in mind] first and foremost that whatever disagreements we may have in other parts of the world, the key to peace not only between us but in the world lies in the relationship we have with each other, and we must never let events in other parts of the world weaken our relations. One reason this meeting as well as the other two must be designated as a success is that in non-security areas as well as in security areas we have entered into a number of agreements that make continuation of our bilateral relations valuable to both of us.

I believe too that we must not be at all discouraged by the fact that we don’t settle every issue every time we meet. And I believe work should begin now on exploring new areas where our cooperation may go forward, not only in the security case—which of course we already know requires urgent attention—but in peaceful areas where we have made such progress. And it is interesting how working in these two areas complements one another; working in one area helps us in the other. Where we fear each other and don’t trust each other, we won’t work together, and where we don’t work together we will tend of course to develop old habits of lack of confidence and a policy of fear.

Brezhnev: That is right. [Khorosho].3

Podgorny: I believe we can say that this visit has indeed been a very big success. In areas we have not succeeded in resolving, there is agreement on both sides that we should both make efforts; this applies to strategic arms. But much has been achieved and this is of very positive significance. Provided we work vigorously together, bearing in mind our mutual interests and especially the principle of equality in the more complicated ones. But of course a certain time is needed. In short, therefore, this meeting can be assessed as very successful and as a complement to the previous two meetings, which are clearly important not only from the standpoint of our two countries but the world.

Kosygin: Mr. President, I am in agreement with the assessment of this meeting by Nikolai Viktorovich [Podgorny] and Leonid Il’ich [Brezhnev] and your own assessment of the significance of this meeting. This meeting has indeed been a more successful one and it can be more successful provided we make additional progress in these areas.

[Page 1012]

I want to say a few additional remarks about the subject you mentioned in your summing remarks. You mentioned the issue of various friends that your side and ours may have in various parts of the world, who might become the causes of conflict between us. That is indeed a very important issue. There are many examples in history which warrant the conclusion that it is indeed an important issue. But I believe we should build our relationships on the basis of previous agreements and whatever future relationships on the complete assurance that whatever we do, none of our actions will be directed against the other side.

And in this respect there is a great difference of principle between the present and the past. In the past, various conflicts arising out of actions by third countries flared up because our two countries didn’t have the necessary contacts. But we now have the means of keeping in contact. If in the past we only had contact after it broke out, now we have the means to keep in touch before, and this is a great historical achievement. And I therefore feel we have at hand today the means of avoiding conflict, and this is an important development and on this basis peace can be a very durable one.

Of course, there will be some in the world who want to see continuing tensions and they will prod us toward continuing tensions, and we will have to avoid it. There are some, I say, who will seek to stir up tension.

Brezhnev: Mr. President, we can end on that note.

President Nixon: The most important thing about this meeting, Mr. General Secretary, in comparison to the other two meetings, is not just the fact of the signing of agreements, though they are important, but how we follow up on the commitments made in those agreements in the next months. And I am sure we are in agreement on both sides that we don’t just take those documents and file them away in a drawer, but in the area we said we would follow up, we do follow up. Whatever this requires in the way of meetings, at various levels, as we discussed with the General Secretary, will be done.

Podgorny: And what’s very important is that we have agreed that if necessary we have not just these annual meetings but if anything comes up in the interim requiring urgent discussion, we meet briefly to take these up. We need not wait for a whole year.

Brezhnev: Therefore, I feel President Podgorny and Prime Minister Kosygin have added to our own assessment of what we have achieved in these last several days. And we all proceed from the assumption that we are succeeding in strengthening good-neighborliness between us, and that means we shall go on cooperating.

We have every reason to go on to sign the remaining documents.

[Page 1013]

[The meeting ended and the party went over to St. Vladimir’s Hall for a signing ceremony.]4

  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. Both Nixon and Brezhnev spoke at the dinner hosted by the President at Spaso House, the Ambassador’s residence in Moscow. For the text of their remarks, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1974, pp. 564–567.
  3. Russian translation of “good.”
  4. In telegram 10984 from Moscow, July 15, Stoessel wrote, “The Soviet leadership’s performance during the Summit left some lingering questions. Why was Andropov absent? Why was there more emphasis on collectivity, and a de-emphasis of personal ties? Does Brezhnev have health problems? On the whole, however, their performance demonstrated continued stability and confirmed their concerted policy of pursing better relations with the U.S. Post-Summit Soviet propaganda has sought to put the best face on the results. In part this is a genuine assessment, reflecting the Soviet tendency to focus on atmospherics. Nevertheless, there are signs of second thoughts about the failure to achieve progress on arms limitation.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)