138. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion of Nigeria.]

[Secretary Kissinger:] Chuck, how about Moscow?

Mr. Robinson: Well, I think the discussions went well. I think there’s clear evidence that the Soviets want to develop a closer economic tie with us and they want to become involved in multilateral economic deliberations. I was very encouraged that we made progress.

Secretary Kissinger: Why would you be encouraged about their wanting to be involved in multilateral economic deliberations?

Mr. Robinson: I think they realize they can’t go it alone, and this is evidence—

[Page 538]

Secretary Kissinger: Do you feel we could throw a monkey wrench on them, like energy or OPEC?

Mr. Robinson: I’d be very careful about them in the energy area, but—

Secretary Kissinger: Well, you mention one area in which they do us any good.

Mr. Robinson: Well, the fact they recognize the need to become involved, I find, is a positive factor.

Secretary Kissinger: O.K.—if it does us some good. Name one negotiation where it does us some good.

Mr. Robinson: Well, I think there are opportunities for—

Secretary Kissinger: I’m all for bilateral talks with them.

Mr. Robinson: This is what I’m talking about. They are looking to us as a channel in which they would be kept advised, in which we could be apprised bilaterally. And we could play this to advantage; this is my basic conclusion.

Secretary Kissinger: Unless they’re talking to 15 others bilaterally.

Mr. Robinson: I’m sure they are talking to the French, although our reports would indicate they went into much more detail with the French than us.

Secretary Kissinger: What specifically do they want?

Mr. Robinson: They want extension of trade on a multilateral basis.

Secretary Kissinger: What does that mean?

Mr. Robinson: Well, that means they want to develop basic resources for sale—export. In exchange for that, they want machinery, equipment.

Secretary Kissinger: But that’s bilateral.

Mr. Robinson: I’m talking about bilateral. But their desire to become part of the world economy I think is a recognition of the weakness of the present system.

Secretary Kissinger: But recognition of the fact that there’s an aggressive role.

Mr. Robinson: But that could; but they also have serious economic problems—shortage of credit, shortage of technology—and they recognize that unless they become a part of the world economy that they’re going to limit their future development.

It just seems to me there was evidence—

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. But given the attitude of most of our allies, I’m not so eager to have them at multilateral meetings. At oil meetings they’re going to join OPEC. At GATT meetings they’re going to get Europe against us. So at what forum will the Soviet Union add a bloody thing to us?

[Page 539]

Mr. Robinson: Well, I have prepared a report, which I will get to you today, arguing against multilateral deliberation.2 But I think their desire and their interest in having us as a channel of communication gives us some opportunities.

Secretary Kissinger: That I agree with. Do they have any ideas on bilateral trade?

Mr. Robinson: Well, they didn’t raise the question on the trade bill, but that obviously is very much on their mind. But they are going to push forward in supporting U.S. business activities in the Soviet Union, and they’re going to move more aggressively to market their mineral and energy resources. And their men are prepared to sit down and talk about how we do that.

Mr. Hartman: I talked to a banker the other day and he said they are beginning to mobilize the credit now with their bank in London.

Secretary Kissinger: Is Sonnenfeldt here?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Yes, sir.

Secretary Kissinger: Do you want to do an analysis—you and Bill—of what these conversations mean and what our possibilities are, as you see them?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: Why don’t you get together with Chuck and the three of you do something?

Mr. Sisco: They weren’t very concrete on their side; were they, Chuck? Did they have any concrete ideas?

Mr. Robinson: Except they wanted an invitation to the producer-consumer—

Mr. Sisco: I mean in terms of details of trade and so on.

Secretary Kissinger: But they don’t consider that pleasing, the producer-consumer meeting; and they sure as hell are going to join the producers.

Mr. Robinson: No question. They outlined what their position is.

Secretary Kissinger: What is their position?

Mr. Robinson: They want to bring in the LDC commodity issue. And I told them that these were matters in which we had great interest but we felt that the LDC question would not contribute to any satisfactory solution to the energy problem but the fact that they feel dependent on the rest of the world and they want to become involved and they want to use us or work with us—

Secretary Kissinger: It depends entirely on what terms—

[Page 540]

Mr. Robinson: Yes, I agree.

Secretary Kissinger: If they want to use us to maintain high oil prices and link it to LDCs, we can do without that cooperation.

Mr. Robinson: Absolutely. I argued against it; and I think they have a recognition of the weakness of their system and their society; and they made a commitment to become involved in the international economy in a different way than in the past. That gives us an opportunity to look at it.

Secretary Kissinger: I would like someone to do a paper within the next 48 hours of what Soviet involvement in the international economy means—whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for us and how they’ll use it.

Mr. Robinson: I’ll get that.3

Secretary Kissinger: I don’t know. I have no strong views.

Mr. Lord: We wrote a paper looking to the NATO planning meeting in two weeks, on this very subject.4

Secretary Kissinger: They have already joined the NPT! (Laughter.)

Mr. Lord: NPT isn’t mentioned in the entire paper! (Laughter.)

Secretary Kissinger: What objectivity! (Laughter.)

Mr. Lord: It’s precisely on this subject that we’re talking about—

Secretary Kissinger: What conclusions had you come to?

Mr. Lord: The conclusions are they’re very ambivalent at this point.

Secretary Kissinger: I don’t give a damn what they think. I want to know what the impact is on Soviet participation.

Mr. Lord: We don’t have all our thinking straightened out yet.

Secretary Kissinger: I would just like to understand it for my own benefit. (1), what is the impact? Secondly, how could they use it for good or ill? Third, what can we do within the framework that Chuck discussed?

I agree the tone of your conversations, of your reports, couldn’t have been better; so I think that was very positive.

Mr. Robinson: Patolichev made a very strong point of the importance of continuing this kind of dialogue, and Kuznetzov throughout the meetings was clear that he felt this was the starting point for something to do, to be continued.

[Page 541]

Now, whether it’s in our interest to continue it or not—that’s another question. But their desire, their sense of need, I think—

Secretary Kissinger: But there are two separate problems. (1), what will they discuss? I mean, are they eager to discuss? Secondly, what is it they want to discuss? That’s the part that I want to get a handle on.

Mr. Robinson: Well, we discussed three basic issues, and they were very much interested in all three—and that’s food, the commodity LDC issue, and the consumer-producer relationships.

Secretary Kissinger: That’s a disaster. What’s their view on food?

Mr. Robinson: On food, we want their evidence of willingness to deal with us bilaterally. But they’re not interested in a multilateral approach to the emergency grain program because they see their aid to LDCs as a way to achieve some ideological objectives, and they don’t see—

Secretary Kissinger: In other words, they don’t want us to subsidize their exports to the LDCs.

Mr. Robinson: Well, they want to handle their program in their own way, apparently.

Secretary Kissinger: But they can’t do it unless we sell grain to them. How about commodities?

Mr. Robinson: On commodities, they are pushing of course for multilateral financing and some stabilization of price that they feel is in the interests of both producing and consuming countries.

Secretary Kissinger: That’s the only one I’m willing to listen to.

Mr. Robinson: Well, I think in the face of what we can accomplish in this area, it might be worth exploring.

[Omitted here is discussion of Turkey, Mexico, Geneva talks, Vietnam, Honduras, Chile, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 78D443, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Box 6. Secret. According to an attached list, the following officials attended the meeting: Kissinger, Ingersoll, Sisco, Robinson, Maw, Eagleburger, Sonnenfeldt, Davis, Rogers, Habib, Hartman, Atherton, Hyland, Lord, Enders, Anderson, Vest, Buffum, Jenkins, Leigh, Springsteen, Gompert, and Bremer.
  2. A copy of Robinson’s report is attached to Document 139.
  3. See Document 139.
  4. A copy of the S/P paper is attached to Document 139.