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

Dear Mr. President:

I have received and carefully studied your letters of January 9 and 21, 1975.2

I would like to say first of all that I appreciate and share your reiterated determination to continue vigorously the political course in the relations between our countries, which has been chartered in recent years and has already brought about very important results.

Your expressed intention to move steadily ahead in the development of bilateral Soviet-American ties as well as to work together for the elimination of sources of international tension and conflicts, for strengthening peace and the relaxation of tensions is in complete consonance with our own intentions and aspirations which you are well aware of and which—I would like to say it again—remain intact.

Consequently, the question now is how to provide for further practical steps in each of those wide fields of relations between our two countries on the basis of the common understanding of aims that we presently have with you.

We, like the U.S. side, attach, as before, the highest importance to bringing to an end and to translating into a concrete agreement the understanding reached in Vladivostok on strategic offensive arms limitation. We also believe that the preparation by joint efforts of a final text of the agreement by the time of our forthcoming meeting is quite a realistic thing, and that the agreement should become one of its main results. This is what we should bring matters to, in our view, at the talks which will resume in several days between our delegations in Geneva, that have to give the form of a mutually acceptable agreement to what we have agreed upon with you.

There is also no doubt that the common actions of our countries in the completion of the Conference for the Security and Cooperation in Europe should be made active to the maximum extent in the forthcoming weeks. A successful completion of this major event with the [Page 453] signing of the final documents of the Conference at the highest level could also be an important contribution to the Soviet-American relations. Therefore, we expect that the American side in the spirit of the assurances given in your letter and in the spirit of our understanding on this question reached in Vladivostok will make every effort to facilitate achieving exactly such an outcome. Yet even to-day, Mr. President, not everything is going on smoothly in this respect.

As for the situation which has arisen in the field of our trade and economic relations you are already aware of our position in connection with the adoption in the USA of new discriminatory legislation on these matters with regard to the Soviet Union. You also understand, we believe, that this position could not be any different. We take note of the assurances of the American side to the effect that it will continue working towards correcting this clearly abnormal situation.

Now, about the Middle East. In your letter of January 21, you justly acknowledge that no final settlement in the Middle East can be achieved or could endure without the support on the part of our two countries and that the USSR and the USA must work together in close cooperation in such a settlement. We have always adhered and adhere now precisely to this point of view. We have said it not once, and in Vladivostok too.

But let us see what the situation is in practice regarding the cooperation and coordination of our efforts in the matters of the Middle East settlement. I must say it straight that here the practical steps of the American side are in complete opposition to what has been agreed between us. We have not yet managed to achieve proper cooperation and coordination.

We have been receiving for some time information about various kind of steps in the Middle East being worked out with the participation of the US. Meanwhile the American side has so far told us nothing about those steps. Even now, while speaking about its readiness to discuss with us possible measures of cooperative nature, the American side proposes to do so only after the “steps, in which the United States are presently engaged in have been completed.”

Why, may we ask, that should be done after but not before some steps are implemented and why not to take these steps with joint participation of our countries? I shall put it straight, we had the right to expect a different approach in these matters.

As for the idea set forth in your letter about having a meeting between our respective representatives after the completion of certain steps now in preparation with the US participation, we naturally would like to know what could be its purpose? Isn’t there an intention to confine it to informing us of what has been already done? The matter is not that opportunities are lacking for exchanging opinions. Such op[Page 454]portunities do exist: there is our Embassy in Washington, and yours—in Moscow; there is also the established confidential channel through which an exchange of opinions is possible at any moment, if there is a wish to do so.

We are not against the discussions which you have proposed, nor are we against a special meeting between A.A. Gromyko and H. Kissinger, say, somewhere in Europe (for example, in Geneva or Vienna) for exchanges on the Middle Eastern matters. We are ready to discuss any aspects of the Middle East settlement including, as it was earlier, possible partial, intermediate steps which would be aimed at solving key questions of that settlement: liberation of all Israeli occupied Arab lands and giving the Palestinian people an opportunity to create national home of their own, as well as providing all the peoples of the area including the people of Israel with the opportunity to live in peace and security. Simultaneously the question could be discussed about the most effective use of the machinery of the Geneva conference, the expediency of which you have rightly noted at your recent press conference.3

I considered it necessary to sum up once again our approach to the issues of the Middle East, it could be that here we have not used all the possibilities for our cooperation.

Those, on the whole, are, Mr. President, the considerations which we have in connection with the letters received from you.

I appreciate your personal good wishes. Please accept my best wishes to you.

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L. Brezhnev 4
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Soviet Union, January–March 1975. No classification marking. According to a handwritten note, this English translation of the letter was “hand carried by Yuri Babenko 1/27/75 9:45 p.m.—received.” The signed letter in Russian is in Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 28, USSR, The “D” File.
  2. Documents 115 and 123.
  3. The President did not specifically mention the Geneva Conference in his press conference on January 21. For text of the press conference, seePublic Papers: Ford, 1975, No. 36.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.