126. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford 1

SUBJECT

  • Brezhnev’s Reply to Your Letters

You wrote to General Secretary Brezhnev on January 9 and January 21 reiterating your desire to continue the positive course of US-Soviet relations. (Tab B)2 Your letter of January 21 pointed out that the US was pursuing some preliminary steps in the Middle East to ease tensions and promote a settlement, and you asked Brezhnev for his suggestions for ways in which we and the Soviets could cooperate.

Brezhnev has now replied. (Tab A)3 He first touches on various topics briefly:

—He is confident that a SALT agreement can be finalized by the time of his visit here.

—He reiterates his hope for common action for a CSCE Summit. However, “not everything is going on smoothly in this respect.”

—He notes your assurances that you will work to correct the “clearly abnormal situation” with respect to trade legislation and economic relations.

He then turns to the main topic, the Middle East. The tone of the letter becomes very sharp: “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.”

—He says he has been hearing for some time about “various kinds of steps in the Middle East being worked out with the participation of the U.S.”, about which the U.S. has thus far told the Soviets nothing.

—He complains at length that we have offered to discuss US-Soviet cooperation, but only after the present steps we are engaged in are completed. “I shall put it straight we had the right to expect a different approach.”

—He says there is no shortage of channels for us to exchange opinions. Nevertheless, in response to your willingness to have further [Page 456] discussions, he says he would not object to a meeting between myself and Foreign Minister Gromyko somewhere in Europe. He says the Soviet side would be willing to discuss “possible partial, intermediate steps,” as well as “the most effective use of the machinery of the Geneva conference.”

My inclination is to agree to a meeting with Gromyko, perhaps in Geneva, but not until the end of my forthcoming trip to the Middle East.4 I have assured Sadat that I would not see Gromyko until after I have stopped in Cairo first to review the situation and discuss how to handle the problem. Since Gromyko is set to visit the Middle East before I go there, we can respond to the Soviets that Gromyko and I can meet to compare notes after our respective exploratory trips.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 28, USSR, The “D” File. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. Printed as Documents 115 and 123.
  3. Printed as Document 125.
  4. Kissinger was in the Middle East February 10–15 to discuss a second Egyptian–Israeli disengagement agreement.