115. Letter From President Ford to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev 1

Dear Mr. General Secretary:

I have studied your letter of December 25, 1974,2 with great care. I appreciate both its frankness and the constructive spirit in which you view the further development of the overall relations between our countries. In this regard, I welcome particularly the statements in the last several paragraphs of your letter in which you reaffirm the Soviet Union’s continued commitment to the course of improved relations and further relaxation of tensions.

Let me state categorically, Mr. General Secretary, that we for our part will continue to pursue vigorously the policies charted in recent years. I firmly believe in the benefits of increasingly intensive bilateral contact and cooperation in all the numerous fields in which we are already implementing agreements and joint projects and in any additional fields that both our governments may consider desirable.

Further, it will remain the clear policy of my Administration to work with you for the settlement of remaining international disputes, the elimination of crisis situations and the building of a peaceful and cooperative world order. Such important efforts as the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in which we are jointly engaged along with many other countries, must in my view be brought to a successful conclusion and we will certainly work energetically to that end. I well recall our discussions on this subject at Vladivostok and we will proceed firmly on the basis we agreed to at that time.

I noted with satisfaction what you said about the understandings we reached in Vladivostok on other concrete issues. In particular, I would like to affirm that I regard the understandings on strategic arms limitation as having the highest importance. Within our government, at the present time, we are conducting painstaking preparations for the resumption of the Geneva negotiations so that the basic terms worked out in Vladivostok will be translated into a detailed, binding agreement in the coming months. I agree with you that we created a sound basis [Page 436] for this in our talks and I am optimistic that the remaining work can be completed by the time you next visit our country later this year. That visit, Mr. General Secretary, will, I am certain, be another major landmark in the historic evolution of our relations. It is not too early for our representatives to begin to discuss plans for our meetings at that time.

I would like to tell you frankly that I have been disappointed by recent developments with respect to trade relations between our countries. Like you, we have always viewed the development of mutually beneficial commercial and economic relations as a central element in our overall relationship. Whatever my Administration has felt obliged to do in connection with the legislation recently adopted by our Congress was done solely for the purpose of overcoming or minimizing the obstacles that had arisen. I have publicly expressed my concern about certain of the provisions included in our legislation which I consider unsatisfactory. I note your own remarks about these matters. I would like to say that for our part we are prepared to proceed with trade relations even within certain of the limits that our laws now impose upon me. I strongly support your own attitude of not becoming discouraged and of looking to the future with optimism and a sense of responsibility. I want to tell you also that we consider ourselves morally committed to the principles enunciated in 1972, and we will do our utmost to convince the Congress to agree to the practical implementation of those principles.3

May I use this occasion to reiterate my gratitude for your hospitality in Vladivostok and my profound gratification with the spirit that pervaded our talks there. I believe that the candor and mutual confidence which marked our conversations is of great importance in moving ahead and it is for that reason that I welcomed your letter in a personal sense as well.

I was distressed to learn of the death of your mother,4 and Mrs. Ford and I would like to extend to you and all the members of your family our profound sympathy at this sad moment for you.


Gerald R. Ford
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, 1975. No classification marking. Sonnenfeldt prepared several drafts of this letter for Kissinger to submit to Ford. See Document 108 and footnote 3, Document 113. Scowcroft sent the signed copy of the letter to Dobrynin on January 10. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 28, USSR, The “D” File)
  2. Document 104.
  3. This sentence was added to the letter after Kissinger’s telephone conversation with Dobrynin the previous evening. See Document 114.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 112.