136. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Robinson’s Trip to Moscow


  • The Secretary
  • Under Secretary Robinson
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary, EUR
  • William T. Shinn, Jr. (Notetaker)

Robinson: Mr. Secretary, you have before you the instuctions which you have approved for my trip that Hal sent you by telegram.2 I am leaving in half an hour and would like your guidance. What should I avoid in my talks with the Russians?

Kissinger: I would just discuss the means of strengthening our trade relations. You should do this on two assumptions: that it will be possible to change the Trade Act, or that this will not be possible.

Sonnenfeldt: This gets into a different area. In your conversation with Gromyko 3 you said Chuck would concentrate on our activities in multilateral negotiations.

Kissinger: I agreed with Gromyko that you would talk about two things: our trade and the multilateral aspects. Who are you going to see?

Sonnenfeldt: First Deputy Trade Minister Kuz’min, the Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Commission Inozemtsev, and . . .

Shinn: The third is Morozov of the State Committee for Foreign Economic Relations.

Kissinger: I wouldn’t get into price fluctuations. I can never see the sense of telling the Soviets about our problems. You should avoid mentioning the price fluctuations of raw materials.

Robinson: I will do that. However, I think I could put a positive cast on this question by talking about new relations with the LDC’s.

Kissinger: You shouldn’t pour your heart out.

Robinson: I don’t propose that we tell them everything.

[Page 531]

Sonnenfeldt: It would be proper to discuss the wheat, cocoa, sugar and tin matters, however, since the USSR is a member of these agreements.

Kissinger: When you talk it should be with a tone of confidence. I would be openminded on how they fit in—not in the IEA but the producer-consumer meeting.

What do you think, Hal?

Sonnenfeldt: Chuck should express interest but make no commitments. This is, of course, provided the Soviets make a specific request.

Kissinger: The trick is to seem cooperative but not to give a hell of a lot. Is anyone going with you?

Robinson: Bill Shinn here will be accompanying me.

Kissinger: On bilateral trade, this depends on political questions.

Robinson: We had a problem with Simon. He wanted to take some Senators with him to Moscow.4

Sonnenfeldt: You should say we will try to get a legislative consensus, but this will have to flow up naturally.

Kissinger: We will be glad to explore the possibilities but this has to be done the second half of this year.

Sonnenfeldt: We have made some soundings on the Hill, but it’s best not to push the matter yet.

Kissinger: We should be ready to start in June. Hal, how is SALT going?

Sonnenfeldt: There are three basic problems: verification of MIRV’s, bomber armaments and Backfire. I am concerned that the discussions in Geneva seem to be degenerating into polemics over who is most faithful to Vladivostok.

Kissinger: We must move carefully in Congress.

Sonnenfeldt: Regarding the two hypotheses on trade, there is a growing interest in private bank financing.

Robinson: I had a good conversation with Tom Clausen5 on this.

Sonnenfeldt: In general, you should be friendly, forthcoming and . . .

[Page 532]

Kissinger: and confident. Don’t hesitate to snap back at them.

Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Soviet Union, January–March 1975. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Shinn. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. Not found. Robinson met with Soviet officials in Moscow March 27–28.
  3. See Document 130.
  4. In message Hakto 44 to Scowcroft, March 14, Kissinger opposed Simon’s request to include Senators on his trip to Moscow, stating that this would be “extremely unwise.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Soviet Union, January–March 1975) Simon chaired the fifth meeting of the U.S.–USSR Joint Commercial Commission in Moscow April 10–11; during the visit, he also met with Brezhnev and Patolichev. A report for the President on the meeting is in Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject File, 1974–1977, Box 23, Subject File, Trade (2).
  5. A. W. “Tom” Clausen, President of Bank of America.