11. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion of U.S. defense policy and Cyprus.]

[Kissinger:] Few words about the Dobrynin meeting.2 He will try to cover the waterfront. Keep it a half hour. It’s best if they don’t really know where they are standing. Be very friendly, maintain an interest in keeping the private channel open—between Dobrynin and me to the President. You agree with the principle of having more frequent meetings. You are intrigued with the idea of a Vladivostok meeting but it should wait until after my October trip. Your first meeting should not be a negotiating meeting. One or one-and-a-half days there would be plenty. The big meeting should be here in ’75. You could say Dobrynin and I should work out the time, based on negotiating developments.

On substance, he raised joint action on Cyprus. I gave him a lot of double talk.

President: I will just reaffirm your talk with him.

Kissinger: Don’t encourage joint action.

On the Middle East, if he raises it, say we are engaged in consultation; we have found no ideas yet and we will keep him informed.

Tell him you have a keen interest in the SALT talks because you have big budget decisions to make and that they will depend on SALT progress.

President: Should I say that I am pleased with the talks so far?

Kissinger: No. There is no progress now. You hope the October trip will provide an opportunity.

On CSCE, you can affirm that we will try to move things along and you don’t exclude a summit.

President: Where do we sit?

[Page 25]

Kissinger: Over there. Focus on the Brezhnev letter.3

There is a lot of debate here on détente based on misunderstanding. It is the toughest policy sustainable in this climate. We have used it to paralyze the left. We are attacked from the right now, but they are confused and have no issue. But the left is politically dangerous and you would have the New York Times and the liberals on your back. Jackson is actually helpful with the Soviet Union. Keep him out in front; he is a good negotiating weapon.

The Soviet decision-making process is slow and usually 36 hours behind in a crisis. We send a letter and by the time they can answer we have made another move. We have used détente to act very tough. We need some carrots. Some of the economic deals are in their favor, but in politics we have been pushing everywhere. The critics say we are weakening the Alliance. But it’s better if Europe is right-wing rather than left-wing in its criticisms of us. When Nixon came in, every European would stand up and say he was going to Washington to calm the American madmen down. The press is now not trying to link foreign policy with Watergate.

President: It’s almost a love affair. When Wilson calls, I’ll just thank them.4

Kissinger: Thank him for his efforts, praise Callaghan. Say we will keep close together.

President: You come in at 12:40 with Fahmy.5 Could you stay after Dobrynin?

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 5. Secret; Nodis. The memorandum, which is misdated August 24, was transcribed from an attached set of Scowcroft’s notes, dated August 14. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Ford met Kissinger in the Oval Office on August 14 from 9:15 to 10:20 a.m. (Ibid., White House Office Files)
  2. See Document 12.
  3. Document 7.
  4. Wilson called Ford at 12:10 p.m. (Ford Library, White House Office Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  5. Ford met Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy in the Oval Office from 1:01 to 1:24 p.m. (Ibid.)