148. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford 1

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass you the following report on his first day’s meetings in Vienna.

“I met for nearly two hours with Austrian Chancellor Kreisky.2

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“Kreisky was as usual talkative and friendly. We talked mainly about the Middle East and Europe. Kreisky feels strongly that Israelis must show flexibility and he is critical of their failure to do so, which he thinks has cost them much sympathy and bargaining leverage. The Israelis have tried to persuade him with private communications that basic responsibility for the failure of the last shuttle rested with Sadat, but even without my explanation of what actually happened, Kreisky has essentially correct appreciation of the situation. He feels strongly that if we miss the opportunity we may face a decade of turmoil.

“I briefly discussed CSCE summit with Kreisky who strongly agrees it should be brief—no more than two or two and a half days—with speechmaking cut down to minimum time.

“Kreisky is most pleased with your forthcoming Salzburg meeting,3 as well as mine here with Gromyko, because he sees these kinds of functions as buttressing Austrian security. Publicly and privately, Kreisky expressed warm anticipation of your visit and great appreciation of you.

“I had five hours of continuous discussions with Gromyko in the afternoon and evening.4

“I met with him alone first, for over an hour. He complained about the tone of speeches given recently by you and me which seemed to be tougher on the Soviet Union. I assured him that you were committed to the policy of détente and would defend it firmly against opponents in the election year coming up. On the other hand, there were a number of situations around the world where our rivalry could bring us into confrontation and damage the overall relationship. I cited Vietnam several times as an example of a dangerous situation exacerbated by Soviet arms. Gromyko pointed to the American arms on the other side; I made it clear that they had to take responsibility for consequences brought about by their weapons regardless of their intentions. (Later he told me the Soviets had thought the South Vietnamese were as strong as we said they were!)

“He expressed the Soviet leadership’s desire to maintain the line of détente and not to allow third countries, little or big (an obvious reference to China), to interfere with it.

“In formal meeting with Gromyko, we spent virtually the entire time on CSCE. Gromyko remains an inveterate haggler and we were not able to make enough progress on the so-called confidence building measures (advance notice of maneuvers) or ‘basket three’—human [Page 568] contacts and improvements in operation of news media—to meet allied positions or our own requirements. At one point I threw in the point that at this rate it is unlikely that the July deadline for the summit finale can be met. Gromyko agreed to review the latest allied compromise on basket three overnight and to provide me with amendments in the morning. On the whole I am confident that we shall more or less stay on schedule but in the usual ungenerous haggling Soviet way.

“We did make some progress on the matter of follow-up to CSCE, where a compromise seems likely; it will be some kind of review conference of deputies after a year or two to review progress and make recommendations for possible next steps. The Russians, after first proposing elaborate follow-on machinery, have now become very cautious since they fear we will use such machinery to police their performance on basket three. Gromyko also agreed that the summit finale should be no more than three days with speeches as brief as possible.

“Substantive points during relaxed dinner, which I hosted, included (1) Gromyko’s disdain for the Cambodian regime, (2) his expectation that the two Vietnams will be unified after some lapse of time, (3) pessimistic references to Sino-Soviet relations and obvious concern about Sino-Japanese rapprochement. I made point of saying that we are concerned about possible Indian attack on Pakistan; he registered it but changed the subject.

“Tomorrow we go to the Soviet Embassy and expect to have further discussion of CSCE, then SALT and eventually Middle East. Gromyko seems in no haste on latter. On SALT, he has no experts along, apparently, and it is not clear how much he is prepared to deal on it.

“On the whole, Gromyko was much more cordial than when we last met. He seems determined to convey an impression of normalcy and indeed progress in our bilateral relations. This is not against our interests provided we are vigilant and firm enough to resist pressures in peripheral areas.

“We expect to issue normal communiqué tomorrow, which I will send to you as soon as it is agreed.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 32, USSR, Gromyko File (25). Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. A handwritten note on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. A memorandum of Kissinger’s conversation with Kreisky in Vienna on May 19 is in National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P820124–0443.
  3. President Ford visited Salzburg June 1–3 where he met with Kreisky and Egyptian President Sadat. After his return to Washington, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Rabin on June 11.
  4. See Document 147.