78. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon 1

Dear Mr. President,

I have noted with satisfaction that—as it follows from your letter of February 2, 1973,2—we both are of the same opinion that with the end of the war in Vietnam the process of improvement of the Soviet-American relations, in which the Moscow meeting last year played a prominent role, can and should be now expedited.

In full concurrence with our approach is also the hope, expressed by you, that still prior to my visit to the United States a progress will be reached in the matters which constitute the subject of discussions between us.

On our part we are ready without further delay to deal with the matters which for this or that reason are yet unfinished, and also to work over some new initiatives. Our new meeting—towards which you and I should confidently move—must, by the very logic of matters, bring no less ponderable fruitful results than the first one.

In this connection and taking into account the postponement on your initiative of the beginning of the concrete preparatory work for [Page 269] the meeting, I think that accordingly my visit to the United States will be more realistic to contemplate not for May, but for June.

True, not much time is left even till June. That is why we both need to exert efforts in order to finish in the remaining period the preparatory work—first of all the working out of a Treaty between our countries relating to the non-use of nuclear weapons against each other, the conclusion of which will undoubtedly be an important result of a new Soviet-American meeting on the highest level. Not long ago I have expressed to you my considerations as to further work on this document.3 I have expressed myself also on another important problem—the Middle East settlement, this is the second most important unfinished problem.

Taking note of a mention in your letter that you are instructing Dr. Kissinger to continue discussing in constructive spirit both these questions with Ambassador A. Dobrynin on his return to Washington, I would like to hope that this discussion will be constructive and fruitful. We would consider it advisable if later, say in April—in case it is acceptable to you—Dr. Kissinger will come to Moscow to finish the preparatory work for the meeting.

We agree that it would be useful to try through the confidential channel to crystallize a certain kind of an agreement on limitation of the strategic arms as well, which could be formalized in an acceptable form during the meeting as you have put it in your letter of December 18, 1972.4

The transformation of the Interim agreement on certain measures with respect to the limitation of strategic offensive arms into a permanent one with a certain broadening of its content will be by itself an important step confirming the seriousness and long-term character of the intentions of the sides in this respect. It would be natural at the same time if agreement on more complete measures of limiting strategic offensive arms takes into account the concern of each side as to those types of offensive arms which are not covered by the Interim agreement but which cannot be overlooked from the point of view of stability of the very foundations of the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. And in this case, of course, the subject of consideration can be not only the quantitative side, but possibly also the limitation to a certain degree of a qualitative improvement of strategic arms.

Being ready for search of such a wider arrangement of permanent character and considering it to be a preferable one we are ready at the [Page 270] same time to consider a possibility to conclude separate agreements of a narrower scale which would serve as additions to the Interim agreement. It is possible to have in mind also a preparation of some intermediate document containing agreed provisions of principle which would serve as starting points for working out later of a concrete agreement (or agreements) on an appropriate number of questions.

If to proceed further in the field of bilateral questions then one naturally begins to think of trade and economic areas of our relations. In this area as well a good beginning was laid down, good agreements were signed. It is important now to implement them. In this connection we recall with satisfaction that in your letter of December 18, 1972, you expressed determination to stand in the US Congress fully behind necessary changes in the legislation so that these agreements can finally take force and be completely fulfilled. Taking note of the progress in development of cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union in a number of areas of science and technology, on the environment and health we believe that there are still some unused reserves here as well.

Besides the possibility of concluding some additional agreements on cooperation in such, for example, areas as the agriculture, peaceful use of nuclear energy, exploration of the World ocean, we apparently ought to prepare and sign a long-term general agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States on exchanges, contacts and co-operation, which would on the whole regulate this sphere of the Soviet-American relations. The present practice of concluding such general agreements on a two-year basis seems to be inadequate for a new stage of these relations.

Turning to the problems of international character I wish to point out a further progress, achieved not without the participation of our two countries, in the European affairs. A new phase is beginning in their development—the signing of the Treaty of basic principles in relations between the GDR and the FRG 5 completes the whole series of important acts of international law which fixes the results of post-war developments in Europe. In this field it remains to realize with no undue delay the existing understanding on the GDR and the FRG entry into the United Nations.

The conference on the questions of European security and cooperation can and should became a next important step in the life of Europe and in the international life in general. We are confident that our two countries are able to further play a constructive role in the preparation and carrying out of this conference and we were glad to see in your [Page 271] letter of February 2, 1973, readiness to facilitate its successful outcome; in the same vein we are ready to agreed actions also on the problem of reductions of the armed forces and armaments in Europe, on which the preparatory consultations are now being conducted in Vienna. There will be, of course, no objections on our part to an exchange of views also on the substance of this problem during our meeting.

In conclusion I would like to stress once again the necessity and importance of an advance preparation of such results of a new Soviet-American summit meeting which would bring our relations to a new higher level. The atmosphere in which the meeting would take place will have an important significance for its success.


L. Brezhnev 6
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 15. Top Secret. A handwritten notation at the top of the letter reads: “Delivered by Vorontsov at 1:50 pm, Feb. 22, 1973.” On March 7, Kissinger forwarded the letter to Nixon. In a covering memorandum he wrote that Brezhnev “is obviously extremely eager for an early Summit. All prior conditions have now been dropped and his mention of slipping from May to June is a smokescreen to cover the fact that they are now pushing for June instead of November.” Kissinger wrote that with regard to Brezhnev’s proposed topics for the summit: “To lay the groundwork in all these areas will require an immense amount of preparatory work. It is obvious that Mr. Brezhnev is most anxious to point to concrete results from the summit.”
  2. See Document 74.
  3. See Document 75.
  4. Document 71.
  5. For the text of the treaty, announced on November 7, 1972, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 1215–1230.
  6. Printed from a copy with this typed signature.