124. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford1
- Dobrynin Meeting with U.S. Communist Party Chief Gus Hall
A sensitive FBI source has provided a detailed report2 on a meeting between Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin and U.S. Communist Party General Secretary Gus Hall in Washington on January 2. With surprising candor, Dobrynin discussed Brezhnev’s health and postponement of his Middle East trip, US-Soviet trade relations, the Vladivostok summit (and Soviet appraisal of you), and Brezhnev’s projected trip to the U.S. this year.
Brezhnev’s Health and the Middle East
Dobrynin said that Brezhnev is tired and not feeling too well, and thus it could be said that he is “ill.” He added that postponement of the trip to Egypt was in part political and that there are problems and some disagreements in Soviet-Egyptian relations—but they are not as bad as depicted in the “bourgeois” press.
Most of the discussion between Hall and Dobrynin concerned US–USSR trade relations. Dobrynin read Hall the text of Brezhnev’s letter to you:3 Brezhnev waited until the last moment to see if you would veto the Trade Bill, reminded you of his previous conversations with you, President Nixon and me and of previous US-Soviet agreements, charged that the U.S. is now reneging and violating these agreements, asserted that the USSR could not accept conditions which represent interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and cautioned that the USSR might well begin raising the “oppressed state” of blacks in the U.S. if the U.S. persists in its course.
Dobrynin intimated to Hall that unless there is some clarification of U.S. policy regarding trade with the USSR, the Soviet Union may raise some legal problems contained in the previously signed Soviet-American agreements. Furthermore, Dobrynin said the USSR [Page 451] intended to take additional action immediately. He said that the USSR would not “crawl or beg” for trade with the U.S. and that in the absence of clarification soon, the USSR will immediately enlarge its trade with Western Europe and Asia “in a big way.”
The Vladivostok Summit
Dobrynin emphasized that the proposal for the meeting originated in Washington, not in Moscow. The Ambassador observed that you and Brezhnev “hit it off from the very start” and that you understood each other. Dobrynin expressed his view that Brezhnev does not underestimate you as an “independent” man and that you know what you are talking about. According to Dobrynin, Brezhnev said he felt more at ease with you than with President Nixon. He added that the Summit was all business from the very start and that you and Brezhnev were constantly engaged in important discussions and in working out concrete proposals. He told Hall that the two of you agreed that if détente is to develop, you must not slow down the momentum and must reach some consensus on armaments.
Brezhnev’s Visit to the U.S.
Dobrynin informed Hall that agreement was reached at Vladivostok that Brezhnev will visit the U.S. perhaps in April, but not later than May, 1975. He asked Hall if he could visit the Soviet Union and meet with Brezhnev before then in order to brief the General Secretary for this summit. Hall said he thought he could do so in March.
This report of the Dobrynin–Hall conversation is forwarded for your information. No action is required on your part.