146. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger: The sponsors of my [Kansas City] speech2 included NAACP, Labor, and so on, so it just wasn’t conservatives. They were up in arms over the CIA, and worried over Vietnam.

President: On the Middle East?

Kissinger: There was no great support for Israel. No great opposition either. But it is obvious that Israel is after me. [He discussed the Matti Golan book incident.]3 They must have known about the manuscript but they never told us. How did the documents leak?

President: As I read the articles, I thought we should demand a copy of the book.

Kissinger: Then we would have to confirm or deny it. We should demand a report of the issue. But not even the Soviets have leaked the substance of our discussions, however much it might have been to their advantage.

[Omitted here is further discussion of the Middle East and domestic politics.]

President: I told Sid Yates4 we would probably have to go to Geneva, and we have warned both of them about making military moves.

[Page 559]

Kissinger: I think I have to tell Gromyko we are prepared to go to Geneva.

President: He asked about Jordan. I showed him what we have given Israel and I said we have no apologies.

Kissinger: Asad replied to your letter of six weeks ago. I’ll send it in—with my MemCon.5 It is very friendly. You flattered them out of their minds by offering to meet him in connection with CSCE. He will send the Foreign Minister here after Rabin’s visit. We should hear him the end of June and announce the 1st of July.

I would tell Gromyko we wouldn’t have any separate maneuvers before Geneva, but we are not ready to discuss the impact of it before your consultations. Geneva wouldn’t be before late July or August.

President: Would that interfere with the Brezhnev summit?

Kissinger: Brezhnev seems in some trouble again. According to Congressman Bennett,6 he’s going into the hospital again.

You can’t cooperate with the Soviet Union on the Middle East beforehand or they will preempt us.

On SALT, we have to be careful not to drive the Soviets beyond a certain point. We are better off in coordinating a tough policy by keeping détente.

We would be better off if there was a right wing. Jackson is hurting us badly by going left. I think you are strong now—once you get off the Eastern seaboard you are in good shape. There were 5,000 people standing in front of the Statehouse. These people want to be proud of their President. They want the Republican convention in Kansas City.

President: That’s not a bad idea.

Kissinger: I will have a rocky session with Gromyko because he will want a commitment on the Middle East.7

[Omitted here is Kissinger’s briefing for the President’s upcoming meeting with Johannes den Uyl, Prime Minister of the Netherlands.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 11. Secret; Nodis. All brackets, except those inserted by the editor to indicate omitted passages, are in the original. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. On May 13, Kissinger delivered an address on “Strengthening the World Economic Structure” before the Kansas City International Relations Council. For the text, see Department of State Bulletin, June 2, 1975, pp. 713–719.
  3. Reference is to a book manuscript written by Matti Golan, an Israeli journalist. On May 13, The New York Times reported that Rabin had told his Cabinet that Kissinger “would probably have to resign and that Israeli-American relations would be seriously damaged if the material was made public.” (Terence Smith, “Israel Bars Publication of a Manuscript Disclosing Secret Remarks of Kissinger,” p. 2) See also Matti Golan, The Secret Conversations of Henry Kissinger: Step-by-Step Diplomacy in the Middle East (New York: Quadrangle, 1976).
  4. Congressman Sidney R. Yates (Democrat, Illinois). According to the President’s Daily Diary, Ford met with Yates at 12:01 p.m. on May 13 to discuss negotiations in the Middle East. (Ford Library, White House Office Files)
  5. Kissinger met Assad in Damascus on March 9 and 15 to discuss the Middle East peace process.
  6. Charles E. Bennett (Democrat, Florida).
  7. During a meeting with Ford at 9:25 a.m. on May 16, Kissinger continued to discuss his upcoming meeting with Gromyko: “The major problem will be Gromyko. He will have three things: CSCE, SALT, and the Middle East. CSCE is out of our hands; we are staying a step behind the Europeans. The only question is the date. The Soviet Union and France want 13 July. I would not spend more than three days. For everyone to give a speech would take 4–5 days.” The meeting then concluded with the following exchange: “[Kissinger:] I’ll agree to the last week of July with Gromyko, if nothing happens. You would come to the last two days and the signing ceremony. President: Can I put in my speech that this doesn’t involve territorial matters? Kissinger: No, it does not affect the Baltic states. We can brief the press on that, but Jackson and the like will hit us on that. On the Middle East, I will be tough with him.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 11)