128. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrey A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Andrey Vavilov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Interpreter)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • CSCE; Cyprus; China and Japan; Germany and Berlin; Emigration; SALT II

[The conversation began in private, for a discussion of the agenda.]

Gromyko: You know Prime Minister Wilson is in Moscow.2 I can inform you that he and the General Secretary will probably agree on three documents. First, a joint statement on the visit. Then a document on consultations, similar to what we have with the Canadians.

Kissinger: But stronger.

Gromyko: On the usefulness of consultation.

Then a document—which is in agreement with your position—in favor of strict fulfillment of the Non Proliferation Treaty.

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: That would be helpful. We are very glad the British are attaching importance to this.

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: Until now, we and you—we don’t know if you were working at your full capacity—but we and you were working on this. And it would be helpful to say something jointly.

Kissinger: I think it’s a good idea. It is in our interest to do something against proliferation.

I’m glad to see your General Secretary was back.

Gromyko: Yes.

Kissinger: Who was the man who was traveling in the Middle East? Was it you?

[Page 468]

Gromyko: Do you have information on this? I will check?

Kissinger: There must be a leadership struggle in the Soviet Union.

Gromyko: What?

Kissinger: Because I read the General Secretary attacked somebody who was traveling in the Middle East. Was it you? I told our press it must have been you.

Gromyko: No, he didn’t say it.

Kissinger: I read it in a toast.

Gromyko: I haven’t read it.

Kissinger: The General Secretary is well?

Gromyko: Yes, he’s much better. He did not have anything serious, and he negotiated from the beginning to end with the British. But probably he will take a rest for a week or two weeks.

Kissinger: President Ford wants to send his very warm regards to the General Secretary.

Gromyko: He will appreciate it.

Kissinger: And he wants to affirm that he is determined to continue the policy on which we are embarked—not only the Vladivostok agreements, but all the policy.

Gromyko: What position do you want to adopt? Shall we talk tomorrow about the Middle East?

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: Let’s take up principal subjects tonight—bilateral relations.

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: Then the European Security Conference.

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: And then maybe Cyprus. If you don’t mind.

Kissinger: I’m prepared to discuss . . . I want to say a few words about SALT—not to negotiate, but just some general principles. We can talk—we can do it tomorrow if not tonight—about the General Secretary’s trip to the United States.

Gromyko: And we can discuss some other matters tomorrow if we have time.

[At 8:22 pm the group moved to the dining room to join the rest of the party for dinner. Attending on the Soviet side were Foreign Minister Gromyko, Deputy Foreign Minister Kovalev (head of Soviet CSCE delegation), Amb. Dobrynin, Mr. Korniyenko (head of USA Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Mr. Makarov (aide to Gromyko), and interpreters Vavilov and Krokhalev. On the American side were Secretary Kissinger, Amb. Stoessel, Under Secretary Sisco, Counselor Son[Page 469]nenfeldt, Assistant Secretary Hartman, INR Director Hyland, and Mr. Rodman.]

[The Secretary told the story of the bravery decoration he received at the end of the war.]

Kissinger: We occupied this town and I put up a poster advertising for people who had had experience in police work. This fellow came to me and I asked “What experience have you had in police work?” He said, “Staatspolizei.” So I said, jokingly, “Geheime Staatspolizei?” And he said, “Jawohl!” So I had to arrest him. His feelings were very hurt. He said, “What can I do to show my loyalty?” I said, “Well, you can help us round up your colleagues.” He said, “Fine.” So he and I rounded up all his former colleagues. We arrested more Gestapo people in that town than all the other occupying forces did. I got a medal for it, but he did the work.

Gromyko: Could we discuss the European Security Conference over the blini?

Kissinger: Could I tell one story about Vladivostok?

Kovalev: It seems that the texts at the European Security Conference are being done much more slowly than the blini.

Kissinger: Could I tell one story about Vladivostok? The Foreign Minister was explaining the difference between “equal applicability of principles” and “equal validity of principles,” and the President turned to me and said, “What the hell is he talking about?” [Laughter. Gromyko looks slightly embarrassed.] My trouble was I couldn’t explain it to him either. [Laughter] You’ve ruined my prestige! Now the President has lost confidence in me.

Gromyko: The Americans at the highest level decided they’re above principles!

Kissinger: We’re going to enter a reservation that they don’t apply to the U.S.

Sonnenfeldt: Good idea.

Gromyko: When we spoke with President Sadat in Cairo, I sat on the divan and he asked me, “What is your secret? Why are you so young?” I gave him an answer—a serious answer. I said “I’m stable. I’m following a policy which is stable.” And I advised him to stick to the same kind of policy. In good humor.

Kissinger: And what did he say?

Gromyko: Everyone was in good humor.

Kissinger: Next time I see him I’ll give him the same advice. [Laughter]

Gromyko: [Raising his glass] The vodka is here; I forgot. It’s my responsibility. Vodka is my weak point! To the Secretary and our guests.

[Page 470]

Kissinger: Thank you. [Everyone toasts.]

Dobrynin: When you say vodka is your weak point, in English it sounds very strong.

Kissinger: I was going to give a press release on it.

Kissinger: I’m going to England, to discuss what Wilson discussed in Moscow.

Dobrynin: Are you going to Paris first?

Kissinger: No, I go from here to London. And I have dinner with Wilson and Callaghan. Then I go to Zurich to see the Shah and I’ll be in Paris Tuesday night3 for dinner. Wednesday morning I go back to the United States.

Gromyko: There was a legend of three strong men in old Russia. I just read it in our magazine “Science and Life.” One of them was Alexander Popovich. Recently there was discovered an ancient chronicle, and we dug according to the chronicle and found a feudal settlement.

Kissinger: So the legend was true.

Gromyko: Yes, the legend was true. He was very strong, Alexander Popovich—though the legend lifted him to supernatural. He was brave too—as you were when you arrested those German generals. [Laughter]

Kissinger: You think I have a future?

Dobrynin: You have a great future.

Gromyko: You know we have mammoths in Siberia. Our scientists have concluded that in the old times, 100,000 years ago, the climate was different and warm. Because mammoths are like elephants and belong to warm climates.

Dobrynin: According to predictions, all the U.S. will become frozen and Siberia will become a very nice place.

Gromyko: It has to have been warm; otherwise the biological conditions wouldn’t exist.

Kissinger: Do you have petroleum in Siberia?

Gromyko: Yes.

Kissinger: I knew you had natural gas.

Gromyko: Both. The famous Tyumen. Yakutsk. The so-called Golden Coast of Siberia.

Dobrynin: We have diamonds.

Gromyko: The main deposit is Yakutsk.

[Page 471]

Kissinger: I’ve read analyses that the climate has changed fundamentally since ancient times. As late as Roman times, they grew wheat in Egypt. Now the climate is impossible.

Gromyko: They do some.

Kissinger: But in the desert.

I’ve read analyses that in classical times, the climate in the Mediterranean was different. Slightly cooler. First of all, the whole area was still forested, so there was more rainfall.

Dobrynin: During Roman times?

Kissinger: The time of Alexander.

Dobrynin: It was so cool so he looked for warm weather, to conquer.

Hyland: A warm water port!

Sonnenfeldt: There is a theory that you can’t be a good imperialist without cold weather.

Dobrynin: That is a new thing.

Kissinger: Did you take a vacation yet this winter?

Gromyko: Not yet.

Kissinger: Will you go to the Crimea?

Gromyko: Probably not. There are sanatoriums closer to Moscow.

Kissinger: It is one of the most beautiful sea coasts in the world—the Crimea.

Dobrynin: You have a state residence now, the Merriweather Post residence in Palm Beach?

Kissinger: We were thinking of—seriously—inviting the General Secretary to stay there. [To Hartman] Is it open yet?

Hartman: Yes.

Gromyko: Vladivostok may become a resort area.

Kissinger: Isn’t it too cold?

Gromyko: But it’s healthy. [Laughter]

Kissinger: I liked the city of Vladivostok.

Gromyko: It reminded me of San Francisco.

Hartman: The hills.

Gromyko: And the Bay. You weren’t too cold there?

Kissinger: No. I’ve never been here in real winter.

Dobrynin: You were in Zavidovo in March.

Kissinger: No, May.

Gromyko: That is where Sonnenfeldt distinguished himself with the boar. He was wounded.

Sonnenfeldt: A boar attacked me and the glass slipped in my hand.

[Page 472]

Kissinger: I was with Brezhnev.

Gromyko: [To Stoessel] Have you gone to that place near Zavidovo where the diplomatic corps can hunt boar?

Stoessel: I haven’t gone. I was invited, but I couldn’t go.

Hyland: Diplomatic bores. [Laughter]

Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)

Kissinger: What about the European Security Conference? We can settle it over the sturgeon.

Gromyko: If we speak seriously about this subject of the European Security Conference, I would say that after a certain rise in activity there, which was not sufficient, and happened before the last interval, a certain tranquility has set in.

Kissinger: [Interrupts the translation] Especially in the Russian delegation, I’m told.

Gromyko: Of course, we think this is connected with the policy of certain countries. And this is not by accident. The European Security Conference reflects the state of mind of certain capitals. And we can conclude that not all possibilities are being utilized. Perhaps I’m being too frank.

Kissinger: Since I know the Foreign Minister isn’t talking about Washington, I wonder what capitals he is talking about.

Gromyko: After a year, it’s being relegated to next year, and then a third year, and then a fourth year, and then a fifth year. This cannot but reflect on policies in other areas.

Kissinger: Let’s be concrete—what capitals?

Gromyko: I’ll give an answer to that. We have a definite view that the FRG in certain questions is playing a negative role, and certain negative impulses proceed from her representatives. We’ve said the same thing as we say to you to representatives of the FRG at the highest level—to Chancellor Schmidt and Minister Genscher. And the same thing we said to the British, at a high level—to Prime Minister Mr. Wilson and Foreign Secretary Mr. Callaghan. I do not know how the British Government will conduct itself in the future, but up until now on many questions, I would like to say their attitude was negative. We thought for quite a long time about the differences between the line of the Labour Government and the Conservative Government on questions of European security and in particular the European Security Conference, and up to now not noticed the great difference. However, I should make a reservation—we have detected signs of perhaps a greater degree of interest in the talks in Moscow on some matters which are of general interest to countries and on certain matters signs of interest in a positive outcome of the Conference. And we hope cer[Page 473]tain practical steps will come out in the future. And we have told this to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. Of course, we said this to them to a greater extent than to you now.

And I would like to mention about one more capital: Washington. I’ve spoken to the leader of our delegation, Comrade Kovalev, who is my Deputy. And so we feel the pulse of the European Security Conference. On certain questions there are good contacts between our representatives. Our representatives feel that when there is desire on the part of the American representatives to help promote progress on certain questions, this makes results. We do not always feel this desire. And sometimes we feel that the attitude of your representatives is somewhat like the attitude of observers, people who look at things happen and wait and see how things proceed.

In a nutshell, we think not all possibilities and opportunities are being utilized, and it’s not by chance. The reasons are not clear but we think it has reasons. Perhaps you can answer. We think you can give more help. Sometimes there are impulses to help but the impulses go down and weaken until the next cycle.

Kissinger: No, Mr. Foreign Minister, sometimes toward the conclusion of a negotiation which is where we are now, the questions left to the end are the most difficult ones, and this is what is happening. Secondly, I’d be interested to hear what specific issues you’re talking about, because there is no directive from Washington to slow down cooperation. On the contrary, our intention is unchanged to speed up cooperation. So I would appreciate hearing what issues you refer to.

Gromyko: I can answer that. We believe today there are a number of questions which are blocking further movement. Three. Or four perhaps. The first is formulations which pertain to the right of states to change frontiers peacefully only by agreement and in accordance with international law. Second is the measure of military détente or confidence. Third is the question of the correlation of principles. That problem, by the way, is the one that created liveliness on the part of certain of the Vladivostok participants. In a good mood.

Kissinger: It was deliberately designed to undermine my prestige.

Gromyko: I can’t question the intentions of the President. That is not my responsibility. [Laughter]

Then there is the Third Basket. There are certain remnant questions in this Third Basket, not all of the same character, but they are blocking progress. Some countries probably are trying to show strong character, but it blocks progress.

Kissinger: Can I give you my impression of these issues? On peaceful change, we can give you another formulation tonight—or tomorrow. But it is a matter of principal interest to other countries, as you [Page 474] know, and connected to their domestic politics. So it’s not an issue on which the U.S. is the principal agent.

Second, on the equal validity of principles, I frankly thought this was on the way to being solved. And there was the IPU Conference in Belgrade which had yet another formulation.4 So I thought it was moving toward a solution.

Gromyko: Not yet.

Kissinger: Isn’t the Belgrade formulation acceptable?

Gromyko: [To his colleagues] What is the Belgrade formulation?

Kissinger: We had the impression perhaps that that formula. . . .

Gromyko: We can’t negotiate it in Belgrade.

Kissinger: No. Tomorrow we’ll give you the two formulas that we thought will lead to a solution.

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: We’ll give them to you. In our internal discussions we genuinely thought those would solve it. We’ll have it for you tomorrow at 10:00. Our Ambassadors will discuss it. Ours will be handicapped by the fact that I genuinely don’t understand it.

Gromyko: Even after Vladivostok.

Kissinger: You expressed it, didn’t explain it.

Gromyko: [To his colleagues:] What is the Belgrade formulation?

Dobrynin: [To Kissinger:] No one on our side is familiar with it.

Kissinger: We’ll give it to you.

Hartman: There was another one which was discussed at the Conference.

Kissinger: [To Hartman:] What made you think it was acceptable?

Hartman: Because their delegation was there and accepted it, and it was advised by their Foreign Office.

Kissinger: Maybe it was an honest misunderstanding. Our people genuinely thought, then the IPU accepted it and your delegation was there . . .

Gromyko: We weren’t interested in this matter at Belgrade at all.

Kissinger: There is no point debating it; why don’t our Ambassadors give you the two formulas on which we genuinely thought a convergence of views was developing? We’ll do it tonight. And you look at it, and see.

Gromyko: Of course.

[Page 475]

Kissinger: On Confidence-Building Measures, didn’t the British discuss this with you in Moscow?

Gromyko: Callaghan said that maybe information about maneuvers can be exchanged on a voluntary basis.

Kissinger: Movements?

Hartman: No, both.

Gromyko: Maneuvers too. We didn’t think it was against your line of thinking. We discussed it once.

Kissinger: I know.

Gromyko: He wasn’t specific but it was worthy of consideration. Then, what is the point from which states should proceed when they exchange information?

Kissinger: The number of days?

Gromyko: The number of troops.

Kissinger: Number of troops and . . .

Gromyko: For Luxemburg, maybe one regiment is a terrible force. For us, if five divisions are going from their winter to their summer quarters, we don’t notice them.

Kissinger: We don’t notice them either, as long as they don’t come West.

On this issue, if we’re willing to show some flexibility on both sides . . .

Gromyko: This is not an important general matter. We think this was introduced rather artificially. In the long run it can be considered. It’s possible to consider other problems. In a sense it’s a symbolic one, they said. But if symbolic steps should be considered, reasonable ones should be done.

Kissinger: What do you think?

Gromyko: We think it should apply to all countries equally and 100 kilometers from the borders. 100 kilometers. All this fantastic part about the European part of the Soviet Union and 500 kilometers, is fantastic. This is supposed to be about confidence but all this undermines confidence.

Regarding the number of troops, we think a corps. Do Americans have a corps?

Dobrynin: A corps or Army.

Gromyko: In the neighborhood of 30,000–35,000. This is not a terrible force. Otherwise you and probably you and we can report every day. And you should build skyscrapers to accommodate the staff who shall be engaged in such unproductive business.

Kissinger: Well, we have no agreement on this point. But I have always believed it was a point on which a solution should be possible. [Page 476] And I think if we both look again at the figures we gave to each other and try to find a compromise between the two positions, we’d be willing to cooperate. And if you want to instruct your Ambassador to be flexible, we’ll instruct ours.

But these talks should be kept quiet.

Gromyko: Naturally they should be quiet, but it seems we’re remaining at the same old positions.

Kissinger: No, if your Ambassador is instructed to show some flexibility, ours will, and we should find a compromise between the numbers and the distances. And if we agree, we can use our influence with other delegations.

Gromyko: Why not report to them tomorrow?

Kissinger: [To Hartman] Is Sherer5 here in Geneva?

Hartman: Yes.

Kissinger: All right, we’ll do it tomorrow.

Gromyko: Do not discount this idea of voluntary.

Kissinger: They’ll meet tomorrow.

Gromyko: The remaining two principles: On borders—we’ll comment when we receive the text.

Kissinger: Then Basket III—it’s too intellectual for me. There is a French text and there is a Russian text, so it’s between you and the French. As for the rest, our people aren’t causing any trouble, are they? Seriously, our people aren’t causing any delay. We’re staying out of it.

Gromyko: It’s true. And we don’t reproach you with creating difficulties. And it seems you have a more realistic approach to the problems than some others. But you seem to act as observers.

Kovalev: Sometimes they give help and sometimes they’re passive.

Kissinger: It’s a difficult problem for reasons with which you’re familiar. We can’t block the proposals of others in that area. Our impression is your delegation perhaps hasn’t made all the efforts it could make in that area.

Gromyko: I think we have exerted so many efforts that if you read a memorandum of our concessions in the field of cultural contacts, information contacts, no one should wait for concessions only from the Soviet Union and the Socialist countries. Other countries may have a less flexible attitude than you, and we agree, but compromise should be the prevailing factor. We don’t think you will worsen your relations when you pronounce your authoritative word. Because we have stated [Page 477] our view. And I can quote certain examples. There was a whole constellation of islands in the Pacific and there was a moment when the Soviet Union after the Second World War actively supported trusteeship by the U.S.—the Marshalls, the Marianas and the Carolines. I remember; I voted for this in the UN. But it was not an easy matter to explain, and public opinion was opposed. But it was a matter of allied relations and both of us were speaking of peaceful cooperation in the world. This was a striking example. In comparison with this, the questions being discussed now are extremely small.

Kissinger: As the Foreign Minister said himself, we have supported the Soviet view on several issues in Basket III and we have not opposed it on any issue in Basket III. And we’ll be genuinely cooperative. But it is a difficult situation for us, given our domestic situation, to be too visibly active.

Gromyko: What can I say to that? We would like to express the hope that the U.S. will be more active than before on questions relating to culture, information and humanitarian contacts. It is up to you whether it should be tied to domestic considerations and to what extent. In a word—and we have a record of exchanges with you—we think you operate lower than your possibilities.

Kissinger: Frankly, our people think the same of you.

Gromyko: Read the list of what we’ve done and what others have done.

Kissinger: Let me review the subject. It eludes me from time to time. I read it before, and I will see what can be done.

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: What other issues are there?

Gromyko: It would be good to clear up these European matters.

Regarding the timing of the final stage of the Conference at the highest level, it doesn’t seem that people are sticking to the dates discussed. There was agreement, and two months have passed and there is no agreement. This doesn’t bring benefit to anybody when they are not complied with. The agreements bring some tranquility to public opinion, but the reaction is sharp when they are not complied with. Not much time has passed since Vladivostok.

Kissinger: I don’t understand. Not much time has passed?

Gromyko: Only two months—and now we see the agreement is going to be broken.

Kissinger: That was a sarcastic remark.

Gromyko: Perhaps we’ll sit together in the next room with notetakers and discuss this question.

Kissinger: About the Security Conference.

[Page 478]

Gromyko: It is unlocked. They will not bind us.

Dobrynin: He’s a flexible man.

Kissinger: [To Dobrynin] You know your deputy is developing a very active press policy.

Dobrynin: What?

Kissinger: He’s now releasing Brezhnev’s correspondence to the Washington Post.6 He told them about a letter Brezhnev sent in December. Now Jackson wants to see it. Murrey Marder. Your Deputy told Marder that Brezhnev wrote the President a letter December 28.

Dobrynin: Did he?

Kissinger: If you’re going to release the dates of letters, we’ll have Jackson asking for them all. We never acknowledge these letters.

Dobrynin: Vorontsov is a man of discipline.

Kissinger: Because we don’t want to release this correspondence.

Gromyko: I don’t know of it and didn’t hear it.

Dobrynin: The Minister speaks for himself, but I have no knowledge.

Kissinger: Where could Marder hear of the date?

Dobrynin: Vorontsov has no such instruction.

Kissinger: He also told the New York Times that you would have preferred a lower MIRV limit.7 We have taken the position that nothing at Vladivostok is renegotiable. Because if something is possible in one category, Jackson will say it’s possible in another.

Gromyko: It could not be. I would know this.

Kissinger: Lots of our Congressmen have the impression . . . If you say you’re willing to have lower MIRV’s, the Congressmen will say we have to have lower total numbers. We just maneuvered this Kennedy Amendment8 so it supports the Vladivostok agreement. If you say you’ll do it in one category, Congress will try it in another.

Gromyko: You’re right.

Kissinger: Seriously, no one in your Embassy should talk to our Congress about lower numbers.

Gromyko: You’re absolutely right. It is not in our interest to do so.

Kissinger: I agree completely.

[Page 479]

[Secretary Kissinger, Minister Gromyko, Mr. Vavilov and Mr. Rodman adjourned to the next room at 10:10 p.m. to continue the discussion privately.]

Kissinger: I am told we have given you a formula on a peaceful change and you didn’t answer yet officially.

Gromyko: Where?

Kissinger: A few weeks ago.

Gromyko: Ah! Two words you changed place.

Kissinger: Let us give you a new one tomorrow.

Gromyko: Two words don’t change anything.

I would like to tell you, Henry, we are very unhappy with the progress at the European Security Conference. This is a great contrast with the Vladivostok meeting which, you are aware, was of very great significance.

Look how many years this has been going on now. As we see the situation, the procrastination being done is artificial and this doesn’t correspond to the interest of the whole cause. We think there are some political calculations, and it is happening not by chance. Maybe I am being too straightforward.

Kissinger: No, I appreciate it.

Gromyko: If you think it isn’t right, maybe it’s London, Bonn, but we don’t understand why this is being done.

This is the personal feeling of our leadership and the personal view of General Secretary Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, whom I saw yesterday before I left.

Kissinger: Tell him my personal regards. I admire him for his courage.

Gromyko: Even now it is not known when the Conference will end. Let us settle the date of the final ending at the highest level.

Kissinger: I want to say first of all that when I saw the toast of Leonid Brezhnev9 when he referred to the European Security Conference I was somewhat surprised, because I thought things were going normally—not quickly but normally. Because with so many countries there, I thought it was progressing toward a conclusion this year.

Perhaps one mistake we made was to give deadlines which are too short, given the procedures and readings that are required. Let’s discuss a realistic date. Look, we agree there will be a summit, without [Page 480] clauses. Let’s find a date—say, late July or early September—a firm commitment. Or what is your idea?

Gromyko: I must say what you said about dates puts us on our guard. You remember the dates we discussed some time ago. Now you want July, September. I must say the Soviet leadership is discouraged with the situation—for want of a stronger word; I won’t mention it. We think there is a possibility to finish the conclusion of the European Security Conference two months earlier. Look at—it’s now half of February, so June or July means five months. Should we continue it five months? We don’t understand this.

Kissinger: Your idea is June?

Gromyko: We think it is better in April, or at least May. It is better in April. This is possible. This is possible. Work remains for two weeks that is all.

Kissinger: It is not possible. I mean the third stage.

Gromyko: To complete the second stage, a couple of weeks are needed. Of course we are talking about the third stage. To conclude the second stage, we only need a couple of weeks. Maybe there is no wish. The orchestra is too large. Some countries do one thing; some do another.

Kissinger: Our people thought the second stage, with all the readings, couldn’t be done until mid-April.

Gromyko: Today, one country inserts one comma, tomorrow another country inserts another comma.

Kissinger: Can we do this? I’ve noted what you say. We have no interest in a delay. Why should we create suspicion in the minds of the Soviet leadership? It is not a substantive issue. We agree there will be a summit.

Gromyko: I appreciate what you say.

Kissinger: So the only issue is the time. I’m seeing Giscard and Wilson in the next three days. Let me be in touch with you no later than a week from today with a proposal.

Gromyko: By the way, Giscard considered April.

Kissinger: May I be in touch with them? I’ll give it to Vorontsov and it stays in our channel. But we will make a firm commitment for a realistic date.

Gromyko: I’m glad you say there are no calculations. We were guessing. We thought for basic reasons, Washington should not delay.

Kissinger: No.

Gromyko: But we thought there were some reasons we do not see from Moscow.

Kissinger: What do we gain?

[Page 481]

Gromyko: Within a week?

Kissinger: Next Monday I’ll give a proposal.10 Then you can reply to me.

Gromyko: I spoke on this with Callaghan.

Kissinger: What do they say?

Gromyko: They are having a Common Market referendum in June, and so they say they will be busy April and May. I said it’s only two or three days; he didn’t have another date. He said he would think over the matter. We have the impression—not the only impression—that if Washington gave the word for April, it would be accepted by London and Paris and the FRG—and Italy.

Kissinger: Let me get their views.

Gromyko: All right. All right.

Regarding the question we discussed in the dining room, on frontiers. One can look at the matter and say: “Let Bonn and Moscow settle this.” You are saying this and Britain is saying this and not only they. But the question of borders is a very important one. Remember World War II started over the question of frontiers. It is not right to say that countries should settle the issue among themselves. World War I too started on the sorrowful question of frontiers. It is not accidental that the Kennedy Government and the Johnson Government and the Nixon Government took a stand on this very positively. The Ford Government hasn’t made any clear presentation on this matter, but we believe it should have some interest in the matter.

Kissinger: It is only neglect. We stand by the statements of our predecessors. We will mention it in the next letter. Within the next two to three weeks, he will write again.

Gromyko: Good. I’ll be waiting for a reply from you. I only wanted to express our deep anxiety and to underline the huge importance of the matter—the date of the ending of the second stage and of the third stage at the highest level, and in particular the resolution of the questions of frontiers and Confidence-Building Measures and measures that pertain to it. So we will be able to come back to these questions tomorrow when I see your formulas on the peaceful change of frontiers and Confidence-Building Measures.

Kissinger: Confidence-Building Measures . . . well, yes.


Gromyko: Cyprus.

Kissinger: We will sell you Makarios.

[Page 482]

Gromyko: At a cheap price or a high price?

Kissinger: Cheap. He is a holy man.

Gromyko: He has two offices, a holy office and civilian office.

Kissinger: That’s why he is so potent a figure. He has a deputy whose title is Your Ecstasy.

Gromyko: I can tell you this question gives considerable concern to us, and not only us. There are two reasons. First of all the question itself is acute because it concerns a situation in a very important area of the world. And this area is not far from the borders of the Soviet Union. We wouldn’t like to say here . . . this doesn’t mean the United States is less interested in peace in this area.

Secondly, we are indignant about what has been done in Cyprus, and you know our appraisal. And what has happened in Cyprus didn’t just fall from the open skies; this was done by people. We have spoken about this at length before. There was an exchange of views at Vladivostok, although comparatively briefly.

Kissinger: I remember.

Gromyko: I’ll tell you the most important thing from the point of view of today. Today, in the eyes of the whole world, a state is being torn in two parts. And why is it that this happens? It is simple: because there are some people who sympathize with such a turn of events. It is clear if there was some degree of joint, I mean coordinated actions on the part of the Soviet Union and the United States—either way, and we are obliged to do this by agreed documents—and by actions on the part of our allies and friends, the tragedy could have been avoided. And there were actions by the Security Council and we voted for it.

I know you think it is an advantage to watch from the sidelines. But this is a mistake. A mistake. It doesn’t correspond to anyone’s interest or to peace. It is a breakup of a unified sovereign state and a violation of the rights of that people with the use of armed force.

Some time ago we supported the idea of a federal state in Cyprus and the Turks thanked us—and this could have been a solution in this particular case. So their troops then occupied part of the island and separated it. But this force is only a veneer; their intention was to have a few cantons—two or three on each side—and a Cypriot government which still exists, gave its consent to the idea. But no, the Turks split Cyprus as if with a knife. I don’t know how those who watch at developments from the sidelines—states who watch at developments from the sidelines—can see how their prestige can rise from this attitude. Of course, each state decides by itself how to look to its prestige.

We would like you and President Ford to consider the situation. Maybe we can rectify the situation by joint efforts and save Cyprus as [Page 483] one state, based on a federal structure but not a pseudo-federal structure.

Kissinger: We favor a united Cyprus and said so. We said it in two statements last week, one in Washington and one by me personally. We do not recognize the new Turkish state as a state and we will deal with the legitimate government of Cyprus. On a solution, we think the Clerides–Denktash talks11 are the best method and we believe a federal state should be the outcome. We don’t have an idea of how many cantons, but I have a personal view of maybe three.

Gromyko: On each side?

Kissinger: Three or four altogether. But I wanted to wait and see how the parties and others feel. I don’t think it is a good idea to impose solutions on the parties before they’ve had a chance to negotiate. There have really been only two or three weeks of Clerides–Denktash talks before our cutoff of aid produced the present crisis.12 But don’t hold me to numbers, because we will accept whatever number the parties agree to.

Gromyko: But you have seen the outcome: the negotiations have been destroyed practically, and you don’t do anything concrete, it seems to us, to promote a single integrated state.

Kissinger: It is not an easy thing for me to talk about because we have domestic difficulties you are familiar with. We haven’t seen that the Soviet Ambassadors in various countries have been helpful.

Gromyko: In what respect?

Kissinger: I think Makarios has to be more realistic, and the Greeks have to be more realistic—not to accept Turkish plans but to be more realistic. We have the impression your Ambassadors are encouraging Makarios to be intransigent.

Gromyko: I’ll tell you the instructions we are giving to our Ambassadors. Naturally they are transmitting the view of the Soviet Government and the Soviet leadership on this question, to promote the maintenance of the integrity of Cyprus and to do everything for that purpose. Second, we are giving the instruction that the Soviet Union believes it is necessary to implement the decision of the U.N., for which we and the U.S. voted, although we know they can’t be carried out today or tomorrow or at once. This is the problem, but we and you voted for it.13 Third, we didn’t utter a single word against the talks of Denktash and Cler[Page 484]ides, and Makarios spoke in favor of them, although we had proposals of a broad international conference, and guarantees to maintain Cyprus as an integral federal state. As I say, we are not against the Clerides–Denktash talks and no one can reproach us. And we didn’t push Makarios in any direction. We said we favored a federal system and mentioned no number of cantons. Maybe three or four is right.

Kissinger: That’s not my preference, but my estimate of what may emerge.

Gromyko: We didn’t mention any number. But two—it’s to kill the state. To kill the state, and to cover it with paper.

So how do you estimate the situation there and the line of your Government in the nearest future? Now the situation gives great concern. It will develop on its own, but then blood will be shed and there will be no solution.

Kissinger: We’ll have to review our domestic situation before we can decide what position to take.

Gromyko: Is it possible for us to exchange views, to receive information from you?

Kissinger: Yes. We think it would be better to let the communal talks continue, but we’ll have discussions with our Congress.

Gromyko: Because it’s interrupted.

Kissinger: We’ll review it this week.

China and Japan

Gromyko: How do you think the situation is developing in Asia?

Kissinger: Where?

Gromyko: Southeast Asia, the Far East, and China. How are your Chinese friends behaving?

Kissinger: On China, our impression, based on no information, is that Chou En-lai is back in control. Is that your impression?

Gromyko: I would not go so far.

Kissinger: But his supporters are.

Gromyko: Maybe. We wouldn’t go so far. Some of his backers and sympathizers are back in control but it’s not enough ground to think what it is.

Kissinger: No, because they’re so old. It is in the nature of things temporary.

Our relations have been a nuance better in tone. There have been somewhat more frequent messages. But what they want we can’t do.

Gromyko: They’re in love with you.

Kissinger: It’s not so exuberant! We’re talking about a nuance, a nuance friendlier. But they made no proposals.

[Page 485]

Gromyko: So they’re trying to convince you on probably every alternate day that you shouldn’t go for contacts or agreements with the Soviet Union or discussion of certain questions?

Kissinger: Every week, not every day. They were very happy with the trade agreement decision.

Gromyko: [Laughs] No doubt.

Kissinger: You know, their basic concern is the Soviet Union. As you know, they say it publicly. But we’re not planning any particular move or measures with them.

Gromyko: There will be no visits?

Kissinger: The President will go there, probably at the end of the year. If he goes, maybe I’ll go before him to prepare it. But there is no specific agreement.

Gromyko: Are there any agreements between China and Japan?

Kissinger: On oil?

Gromyko: A treaty on political relations.

Kissinger: Yes, on friendship and cooperation.14 This is not good for either you or us.

Gromyko: Did you tell the Japanese?

Kissinger: Indirectly. But this Prime Minister has an orientation towards China.

Gromyko: Miki. It is his weak point.

Kissinger: We don’t favor it.

Gromyko: You’ll keep it for yourself?

Kissinger: No. They’re thinking of selling printed circuit electronic equipment, which helps in miniaturization. We’re trying to discourage it. This is confidential information.

Gromyko: Can it be used for missiles?

Kissinger: It can be used, but they say it is for television and electronics. This is very personal information.

Gromyko: We appreciate it.

Kissinger: They tried to get it from us but we discouraged it.

Gromyko: Trade between the United States and China is extensive?

Kissinger: It is extensive. It is almost as much as with the Soviet Union. Mostly they buy from us.

[Page 486]

We’re not fools, Mr. Foreign Minister. It is in no one’s interest to build up a complicated war machine. For five years it’s anti-Soviet; in five to ten years it will be both anti-American and anti-Soviet.

Gromyko: Their military potential is improving. Rockets, and so on.

Kissinger: Rockets, yes. The land army we don’t think is improving.

Gromyko: Are you sure the West Europeans don’t sell to them equipment which can be used for military purposes?

Kissinger: I will check it and let you know. We’re reviewing it, and I will let you know.

Gromyko: We have reports but don’t know how reliable they are. West Germany.

Kissinger: You know Schmidt is going there.

Gromyko: We were following—I can’t say closely—the visit of Strauss.15 They were waving Strauss like a flag and thought the Soviet Union would be trembling.

Germany and Berlin

Kissinger: Schmidt told me—when we were speaking privately—that Soviet harassment of Berlin before these elections would certainly not help his party.16

Gromyko: When did he say this?

Kissinger: Today.

Gromyko: [Angrily] did he use this word harassment?

Kissinger: There were two things. Some Soviet article that spoke of a “third citizenship” for Berlin. And some study group they’re setting up which you object to.

Gromyko: This is harassment? This is the minimum we can do if they set up such an illegal agency. And citizenship—if they say citizenship of West Berlin is part of West Germany, this is a crude violation of the agreement which says West Berlin is not a part of West Germany.

Kissinger: But they’re using West German passports.

Gromyko: A passport is a unilateral action. The only document we recognize is the document which identifies one as a resident of West Berlin. A passport of West Germany is not recognized by the Soviet [Page 487] Union. Your people know. Our Consul, if he sees a passport of the FRG, will not take it. The lawful document is the one identifying a person as a resident of West Berlin; this is another document. Then we issue visas and recognize them.

Otherwise, these two points are points on which our opinion differs. But he’s wrong if he says it is harassment. It’s our principled position.

Kissinger: I am of the impression that he wants to have positive relations with the Soviet Union.

Gromyko: We accept this. It is our impression too.

Kissinger: If they’re willing to sign a technical agreement with you . . .

Gromyko: We agreed, when Brandt and Scheel were in power, to sign the scientific and technical agreements. Then Genscher and Schmidt say, “No, only if you agree that citizens of West Berlin are citizens of West Germany.” This we cannot do, even in 100 years. We are inclined to think that someone probably on a lower level determines in reality these questions.

Kissinger: You would be prepared to leave this question open, without saying anything? Do you object to having them covered by the treaty?

Gromyko: Which?

Kissinger: The scientific and technical treaty.

Gromyko: They have our proposals before them. If they drop their proposals on citizens, we’ll sign the agreement. We are ready. The text was prepared. Only one article was dropped, in which they wanted to say we recognized the citizens of West Berlin as citizens of West Germany.

Kissinger: May I tell Genscher I discussed this with you?

Gromyko: Certainly. It’s not a secret. I talked with Genscher on this at the UN. Maybe some jurists and officials who are guided by another conception . . .

But I can tell you we appreciate our relations with West Germany, but maybe we breathe a little bit cooler with Schmidt. I took part in conversations with Schmidt—which was fruitful. They said they adhere to the Four-Power Agreement on Berlin. They made very good statements and we appreciate it. It’s not what took place five, ten years ago, certainly not 20 years ago. The distance covered is very long. But the mechanism of relations is not smooth. Maybe oil is lacking in this mechanism.

Kissinger: Genscher is very legalistic. But Strauss would be very exciting if he became Chancellor.

[Page 488]

Gromyko: He doesn’t cover his views.

Kissinger: I know him very well. He’s very intelligent.


Kissinger: Can we speak five minutes about trade?

Gromyko: Yes.

Kissinger: What I’d like to do is to try at the right moment to get this provision reversed. I know your position on emigration; it can’t be a formal position. But at one time you spoke of your legal position and thought the number you had might be maintained. Maybe on a private basis. I don’t want to make an agreement with the Soviet Union and take it to the Senate; I want to make an agreement with the Senate and take it to the Soviet Union. I don’t want the same situation.

Gromyko: There is no figure in any form about the future.

Kissinger: It was difficult for me when you published the letter.17

Gromyko: About the past we mentioned a figure, but about the future . . . Now we have an obvious trend decreasing the number. All the way to Vnukovo airport I told you. Please take into account that what we told you about the past was just for your information. About the future, just the opposite we told you. Even now take into account that the obvious trend is decreasing.

Kissinger: Well, what do we tell . . .

Gromyko: I don’t want to mislead you. We don’t know; probably the trend will continue. I don’t know why. The reasons may be as I said.

Kissinger: Fear of war in the Middle East.

Gromyko: Fear of war in the Middle East. And secondly, they’re used to our conditions. For medical aid they don’t pay anything; for an apartment, only a symbolic payment. For an apartment, there they pay maybe 500 rubles; in Moscow, you can get a three-room apartment for 10 rubles. My daughter, in Moscow, pays maybe 12 rubles. This is difficult for them to accept. They go for sentimental national reasons—“a Jewish state, so we’ll go”—and then they come back to Vienna and ask for [return] visas. And they tell not only us but others, and it spreads and spreads, so many in the Soviet Union now know this.

The first is fear of war; the second is living conditions.

Kissinger: But our impression is that if applications were generally known to be available, applications would be generally as they were before.

[Page 489]

Gromyko: We can’t say this. We don’t want to mislead you. Any other reason is not a cause to give a visa or not to give a visa—the only reason is security. But what the number will be, I can’t say. Those are the two factors. Maybe another factor is fresh information.

Kissinger: We’re not talking about going up, but about the level it was—about 35,000.

Gromyko: Can the Soviet Union give a promise to advance such a proposition? We cannot; it is beyond human capacity. We cannot. What do you think—we should use force for compulsory emigration? What should we do? [He laughs] Compulsory emigration?

Of course, we determined this event in the United States . . .

Kissinger: We’d like to have Title IV abrogated, as well as the [ceiling on] credits, as a matter of principle. We realize a formal exchange of letters would be impossible. But just some informal understanding, not part of the record . . .

Gromyko: More than I said, we cannot say. I hope you understand.

Kissinger: Why don’t we stay in touch on this question? Because we’d like to go back to the spirit of the trade agreement and remove the restrictions.

Gromyko: Let me ask you: As for regular commercial credits, are there any restrictions in fact?

Kissinger: No.

Gromyko: Not legally, but there is informal advice?

Kissinger: I’d recommend it be done quietly. We’d be willing to talk to some banks, if Dobrynin will give me some information about what you want. We will encourage it. Of course, it will be a commercial problem. But we will encourage it, not discourage it.

Gromyko: What is your economic situation? We follow it.

Kissinger: We believe it will stabilize in the summer and turn up in the third quarter.

Gromyko: Turn to the better?

Kissinger: Yes.


Can I say one word about SALT? It’s premature for you and me to go into details—unless you have a specific problem.

Gromyko: Have you read my toasts?18

Kissinger: You added a number of provisions that are not in the Vladivostok agreement. 240 missiles on new submarines, for example. [Page 490] We had discarded that in Vladivostok and you reintroduced it in your agreement.

Gromyko: Yes, this was our agreement.

Kissinger: But you reintroduced it in your draft—10 new submarines or 240 missiles.19 You can keep it now, but . . .

Gromyko: What do you expect?

Kissinger: That you’ll drop it. Since Senator Jackson will hold hearings, I want to take the position with him that it can’t be renegotiated. If he sees you introducing new points, he’ll say, “Why can’t we change other things?” We’ll stick to the position that only elaborations can be done.

All the submarine limits were eliminated.

We’ll have some disagreement about cruise missiles.

The second point is we must have some criteria for how to count MIRV’d missiles. We have some detailed proposals. We will listen to your ideas. But we must have something more than declarations.

Gromyko: We thought it was a good idea to introduce drafts.

Kissinger: It was a good idea.

Gromyko: It is better than general philosophical discussions.

Kissinger: You want us to submit a draft?

Gromyko: [Laughs] I do not ask you. But we thought it good to discuss a draft.

Kissinger: I agree.

Gromyko: We think substantive questions will not arise because they are covered by the Vladivostok agreement.

Kissinger: Let’s let the negotiations go a few more weeks and see what problems arise.

Is the General Secretary still planning to come to us? We expect him.

Gromyko: [Laughs] We proceed from the understanding reached. The only question is the time.

Kissinger: We are thinking of June.

Gromyko: We are not thinking of any particular time; we leave it open. But we proceed from the understanding.

Kissinger: You want to leave it without a particular time?

Gromyko: We will decide it.

Kissinger: So, ’till tomorrow? At 10:00.

Gromyko: If that is convenient.

[Page 491]

Kissinger: You’d prefer 10:30?

Gromyko: 10:30. Then lunch.

Kissinger: Lunch at 1:00.

Gromyko: Then we can talk until 4:00 or 4:30.

Kissinger: All right.

[The meeting ended. The Secretary and the Minister rejoined the rest of the party in the next room for brief farewells.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Soviet Union, January–March 1975. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rodman. All brackets are in the original. The meeting was held at the Soviet Mission.
  2. Wilson was in the Soviet Union on an official visit February 13–17. For the English texts of the joint communiqué and of five bilateral agreements reached in Moscow, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXVII, No. 7 (March 12, 1975), pp. 4–6, 28–31.
  3. February 18.
  4. On the recent conference of the International Parliamentary Union in Belgrade, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIX, European Security, Document 270, footnote 3.
  5. Albert W. Sherer, Jr., Chief of the U.S. Delegation to the CSCE negotiations.
  6. Reference is presumably to reporting on the Soviet Union and the Trade Bill in Murrey Marder, “Hill Blamed For Setback,” The Washington Post, February 17, 1975, pp. A1, A7.
  7. Not found.
  8. See footnote 8, Document 113.
  9. Reference is apparently to Brezhnev’s remarks during a luncheon for Wilson in Moscow on February 14. For the condensed English text, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXVII, No. 7 (February 12, 1975), pp. 1–3.
  10. See Document 130 and footnote 3 thereto.
  11. A reference to the periodic meetings between Glafkos Clerides and Rauf Denktash representing Greek and Turkish Cypriots, respectively.
  12. President Ford announced the suspension of U.S. military aid to Turkey on February 5.
  13. Gromyko is referring to UN General Assembly resolution 3212, adopted November 1, 1974.
  14. Although the negotiations had begun, China and Japan did not sign a treaty of peace and friendship until August 12, 1978.
  15. During his visit to China, Franz Josef Strauss met with Mao in Beijing on January 16.
  16. Kissinger met with Schmidt and Genscher in Bonn earlier on February 16. Memoranda of their conversation are in National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Germany, 1975. The elections for the West Berlin House of Representatives were scheduled to take place on March 2.
  17. Reference is to the October 26, 1974, letter Gromyko gave to Kissinger on their way to the Vnukovo airport, Document 75. The Soviet Union released the letter on December 18, and it was published in The New York Times the next day.
  18. Not found.
  19. See footnote 2, Document 127.