26. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon1

Dear Mr. President,

In addition to our recent exchange of letters on the Middle East2 I would like to express now some considerations on a wider range of questions in connection with your letter of July 183 and your conversation with our Ambassador in San Clemente.4

Development of events during the period of time since the meeting in Moscow confirms, in our view, that this meeting and its results favorably influence the relations between our two countries and also have broader international impact. It is of course important that well-started work on implementation of the agreements and arrangements achieved in Moscow should be continued further on.

We have underway, as in the United States, the process of ratification of the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and everything necessary is being done that this Treaty and the Interim Agreement on Certain Measures with Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms enter into force in the possible nearest time. It is necessary, however, that meanwhile no steps or statements are made which would cast a shadow on the big work done in achieving these agreements.

We are contemplating now the questions to be concentrated upon during the forthcoming second stage of negotiations on further limitation of strategic offensive arms. We will be prepared to exchange opinions with you on these questions—using for this purpose, in particular, Dr. Kissinger’s visit to Moscow in September—in order to give then appropriate instructions to our delegations at the negotiations.

We are gratified to note the progress already achieved by appropriate Soviet and American authorities in implementation of the agree[Page 70]ments signed in Moscow on cooperation between the USSR and the US in the fields of science and technology, research in outer space, medical science and public health.

There is some movement forward also in the commercial and economic field. We have come [far?] in particular for concluding an agreement on purchases in the United States during a number of years of a big quantity of grain. You attached as I remember great importance to the achievement of such an agreement. At the same time it should be put straight that the main questions, solution of which is necessary for a sharp increase in the commercial and economic field—and first of all the questions of the most favored nation treatment, credits and debt-payments on the lend-lease—remain still unsettled. As I have already told your Secretary of Commerce Mr. Peterson5 we expect that more understanding of the political aspects of these questions will be displayed by the US side. For example, it would be hardly right to apply purely commercial approach to the solution of the problem of payment of interest in connection with the debt for the lend-lease supplies, having in mind the circumstances of this debt’s origin.

In the European affairs the questions of preparing and convening the All-European Conference are now moving to the forefront and demand practical solution. We believe the time has come to fix a concrete date of beginning the multilateral preparatory consultations. This would give more purposefulness to the preparatory work. With due account also of the considerations of the American side it appears to be possible to take up such consultations in any case not later than November 1972 with a view that a meeting itself, as we have agreed with you, should be convened without undue delay.

Now a few words on the question of reduction of armed forces and armaments in Europe. We together with our allies have always attached importance to this problem, have undertaken appropriate initiatives and at the present time continue to contemplate the most appropriate ways of its solution. However, the question of reduction of armaments in Europe should in no way,—and as we believe, this is the essence of the understanding reached between us in Moscow on this question,—be used for delaying and complicating the multilateral consultations on preparing and carrying out the All-European Conference.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, the continuing war in Vietnam remains to be a source of negative influence on international relations in general and, it should be put straight, on the relations between our two countries.

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It goes without saying that we positively regard the fact that in Paris both official and unofficial meetings have been resumed and that some forward movement has begun to show in the course of the meetings, which took place. As it has been confirmed by your remarks as well, the efforts taken by us contributed to the progress at the meetings in Paris.

Now an especially responsible moment has come in the Vietnamese affairs—in fact, a question is being decided whether it will be possible to put the Vietnam problem on reliable rails of political settlement or the war there will still continue for an indefinitely long time with all insuing consequences. One would like to hope that those possibilities for political settlement that exist will not be lost.

In this connection one cannot but feel serious concern about the incessant and even increasing bombing of the DRV territory by American air force and other military actions by the United States against the DRV. Information coming from Vietnam shows that the actions there of the US armed forces have the nature of genuine terror against the population of that country and of systematic destruction of its economy.

Besides the fact that the increasing of bombing and other military actions against the DRV in no way can promote the search for mutually acceptable decisions at the table of negotiations, the following point is important here. In these circumstances an opportunity is being restricted, if not to say more for rendering assistance to political settlement of the conflict on the part of those who would like to do it.

We have already informed you, Mr. President, about our willingness to receive Dr. Kissinger on September 11 in Moscow in order to discuss the course of implementation of the agreements reached during the meeting in May, as well as to continue the search for ways of settlement of those problems which still complicate our relations.

In conclusion, I would like to tell you once again that we highly value and consider it very important and useful the established practice of confidential exchange of views between us. Especially important is that frankness which is notable for this exchange of views. In our opinion, only such approach can secure a basis for mutual trust so necessary for genuine improvement of Soviet-American relations which we are sincerely striving for.

Sincerely,

L. Brezhnev6
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 13. Top Secret. A handwritten notation at the top of the letter reads: “Handed to General Haig by Amb. Dobrynin at 12:30 pm on 8/17/72.” The text of the letter was forwarded to Kissinger in Saigon on August 17 in message Tohak 72. (Ibid.) Kissinger was on a secret trip to Paris, Switzerland, Saigon, and Tokyo. He visited Saigon from August 17 to 19.
  2. Brezhnev’s letter to Nixon of August 8 on the Middle East is ibid. Dobrynin gave it to Kissinger on August 11; see Document 25. For Nixon’s letter to Brezhnev of July 27 on the Middle East, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1969–1972.
  3. Document 10.
  4. See Document 8.
  5. See Document 21.
  6. Printed from a copy with this typed signature.