162. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, 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


  • Brezhnev Oral Message; SALT; UNGA; China and Japan; FRG–Brazil Nuclear Deal; Bilateral Relations

Gromyko: [to Sukhodrev in Russian] Give me the letter.

Mr. Secretary, I wish to hand to you an oral message from General Secretary Brezhnev to President Ford in connection with the repeated utterances made by your Defense Secretary Schlesinger.2 We have called your attention to it. Frankly, we are surprised at this, and all the Soviet leadership, including General Secretary Brezhnev, are concerned at this.

Let me repeat: This is an oral message. Let me give you an official Russian text and a working translation. [Tab A]3

Kissinger: [reads it] It will be brought to the immediate attention of the President. Speaking frankly, it is not unhelpful that you sent this be[Page 655]cause they don’t reflect the views of the President. Frankly, they reflect an attempt by a Cabinet member to play politics in an election year. But it is not unhelpful.

Gromyko: I would like just to express my hope—and I know this is what the General Secretary would want me to say—that it will be treated with utmost seriousness.

Kissinger: It would not be inappropriate for the General Secretary to raise it with the President at Helsinki, and it will be treated with utmost seriousness.

Gromyko: Our delegations are continuing their talks here on the Strategic Arms Limitation problem. According to the information I have received from Semenov—I don’t know if it is your information—since certain matters of principle are still open—and this is first and foremost what we discussed yesterday—they do not touch them. And it is appropriate that matters of principle be taken up at the appropriate level. And we agreed these important matters of principle will be discussed by General Secretary Brezhnev and President Ford at Helsinki; this is well and good. But Semenov tells me the American delegation is reluctant to discuss even other matters until there is an agreement on the matters of principle that we discussed. So the factual situation is that the delegations have practically nothing to discuss. We think other matters should be discussed by the delegations here, and shouldn’t be kept on ice.

Kissinger: I agree with you. Could we agree on what should be discussed? Or should we have Johnson and Semenov come here after lunch and agree on what they should discuss?

Gromyko: Maybe it would be better if you gave instructions to your representative and I’d give instructions to Semenov, because there are many questions to discuss. If you want to call him, all right, but we can do it.

Kissinger: All right. I’ll give instructions and I’ll let you know Monday4 what subjects should be agreed.

Gromyko: The important thing is to give instructions. I have already instructed Semenov.

Kissinger: Let’s discuss it with Sonnenfeldt before lunch. Definitional questions, for example, should be discussed.

Gromyko: All right. There are many such questions strewn throughout the drafts—some regarding definitions and other matters.

Kissinger: I agree.

Gromyko: Then there is this question: Just before this year’s Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly there will be a

[Page 656]

Special Session devoted to international economic problems, continuing the discussions in the UN framework on these topics. What in your view should be discussed there? And would it be a good idea to have consultations on what should be discussed? This is not by way of a positive statement.

Kissinger: No, I understand. I’ll give a speech next week warning against confrontation tactics in the UN, and specifically not regarding the Soviet Union but the new countries. We will be making proposals on raw materials, and so on, which we are prepared to discuss with you. We believe we should not let the new countries dictate on these questions. But we will put forward our proposals—and we will not move from these positions, I can tell you.5

Will you be there?

Gromyko: This is what I want to ask.

Kissinger: I will probably be there. I will not speak twice. I’ll speak either at the Special Session or at the Regular Session.

Gromyko: Probably I’ll be at the Regular Session. It is not a formal decision, but probably.

Kissinger: Being in America, it’s hard for me not to come.

When you visit the UN, of course, you will come to Washington and visit the President. He would be happy to see you.

Gromyko: Thank you.

Earlier you remember we spoke about the possibility of Vietnam joining the UN. You remember?

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: What is your view: What do you think about both joining the UN—the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and South Vietnam?

Kissinger: If both Koreas join, we would be in favor of it.

Gromyko: This is still your position?

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: If it is done, what about just South Vietnam?

Kissinger: [thinks] I don’t totally exclude this. Let me think about it.

Gromyko: In the Asiatic area, what is happening? With your friends the Chinese and Japanese?

[Page 657]

Kissinger: The Chinese are very anxious to have the President go there. We are thinking now of November or December, maybe late November, and before then I will go there before the President. Six weeks before.

Gromyko: Will there be negotiations with Mao?

Kissinger: We don’t expect any spectacular results.

Gromyko: Will it be a short or long visit?

Kissinger: We haven’t discussed it. They would like a week. We may cut it, less than a week.

Gromyko: Do you have any information about the possibility of an agreement or no agreement between the Chinese and Japanese on friendship? Earlier we discussed what is the intention of the Japanese on this question of . . .

Kissinger: Hegemony.

Gromyko: Hegemony, and what the Chinese have in mind on this question.

Kissinger: My prediction is—and this is not based on information—is that they will probably make this.6

Gromyko: Make this?

Kissinger: Make this agreement.

Gromyko: So the Chinese will succeed.

Kissinger: This is not based on information but on the Japanese character.

Gromyko: The Japanese Prime Minister is not strong?

Kissinger: He is not strong. He will visit Washington in August. We are not encouraging any excessively close ties between China and Japan.

Gromyko: It strikes the eye that Miki rather underrates the sharp edge that China wants to direct against the Soviet Union—you know best the situation as regards the United States.

Kissinger: We have no interest in this.

Gromyko: This surprises us. We have no idea why Miki underrates this. We would have no objection—although we don’t request it—if you could mention our view to the Japanese Prime Minister when you see him. Japan has relations with its other neighbors including the Soviet Union, and it would seem that that would be a factor the Japanese would take into due account. But it seems he is not.

It isn’t that we are so alarmed by this. We have been frightened and frightened again and we can stand up for ourselves! But we would [Page 658] like to have normal friendly relations with Japan, and we think it would be the best interest for Japan.

Kissinger: I’ve told you it is important for our two countries to keep a long-term perspective in mind. I am convinced that by the 1980’s the identity of interest will become self-evident. Now it is self-evident with respect to nuclear weapons; by the 1980’s it will be true of many political issues. We shouldn’t lose sight of this fact.

Second, we consider it dangerous to have too close relations between China and Japan. Not normal relations, but an axis between the two would be dangerous.

Third, the hegemony clause could be used some day against us. It doesn’t name the country. I don’t exclude that our relations with the Chinese will be more difficult in five years, certainly in ten. It is a historical accident that our relations with the Chinese are somewhat better now than yours.

Gromyko: Somewhat!

Kissinger: But as China grows stronger, it can become more difficult for us too.

Gromyko: I listened to that with great interest. And I do believe here that we are faced with serious problems, serious both for our leadership and for the United States, and these are questions which should interest the United States too, if you really want to look into the future of your relations with nations of Asia. And I’m sure in your position you do.

Our attention has been drawn to one fact, and trying to assess the significance of that fact we cannot come to any optimistic conclusion—and that is the agreement between West Germany and Brazil to provide nuclear reactors and other equipment. Our assessment is like that of others—that Brazil is on the path to the production of nuclear weapons and wants to use the help provided by West Germany. Am I right that this isn’t a theoretical problem but a problem of practical policy? It concerns our two states as parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Incidentally, Germany is party to the NPT, but Brazil is not.

You are located closer to Brazil geographically and politically. And we believe you are more aware of how West Germany is breathing in this matter.

Kissinger: We don’t believe Brazil has decided to build nuclear weapons but this deal creates the possibility and we are concerned for the future. When a complete fuel cycle is provided, it provides the possibility to obtain fuel. But we are concerned and have expressed our concern publicly.

[Page 659]

We had hoped this suppliers’ conference would agree on safeguards.7 But if it doesn’t, we would be prepared to exchange views bilaterally, because it is a dangerous development.

Gromyko: We would be prepared for an exchange of views.

Kissinger: All right. Shall we have lunch?

Gromyko: As regards our bilateral relations, I remember very well what you said to me in Vienna, and I expressed my views and don’t want to repeat myself. We are continuing the line that developed particularly at the two summit meetings. True that there are occasional statements made in the U.S. that are not quite in accord with that line, but the President and you on behalf of the President have reemphasized that that line is the same. This cannot but evoke a positive response on our part. We believe if we continue on the course, our two nations can look confidently into the future and advance confidently on the path we have taken in recent years. It would be in the interests not only of the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union, but of all nations. In fact, not even Mintoff could distract us from that. I wanted to repeat this view.

Kissinger: We appreciate this. We, too, believe this is in the interests of peace, and the necessity for it will grow, as I said, in the coming years. The position of our President is growing stronger, almost by the week, so by the time President Ford leaves office, in 1981, it will be a permanent feature of the world scene.

Gromyko: You are optimistic.

Kissinger: All the polls show that if elections were held now, he would win overwhelmingly. Unless there is a collapse of the domestic situation. All our people say it is improving.

Gromyko: What is the situation in the Democratic Party?

Kissinger: Humphrey is mentioned. Jackson is still a possibility; Kennedy is mentioned as a possible compromise.

Gromyko: But he has not announced himself. Is it possible?

Kissinger: I don’t think it’s possible, but I don’t exclude it. I think he is waiting for 1980. They will hurt themselves by fighting among themselves while the President is conducting his office.

[Everyone gets up]

Gromyko: For the conference to be finished would make possible many things.

Kissinger: I’ve instructed our Ambassador to tell the other delegations that after two years of effort, to permit one clause to hold it up makes no sense.

[Page 660]

Gromyko: What does it mean—“contacts?” Everybody has contacts all the time. Nobody can take decisions.

Kissinger: I agree.

Gromyko: This was a good meeting.

[At 2:02 p.m. the conversation ended and the party joined the rest for luncheon].8

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, 1974–1976, Box 1, USSR Memcons and Reports, July 10–11, 1975—Kissinger/Gromyko Meetings in Geneva (2). Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rodman. Brackets are in the original. The meeting was held in Kissinger’s bedroom at the Intercontinental Hotel.
  2. See footnote 12, Document 150.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. July 14.
  5. Because of a last minute trip to the Middle East, Kissinger was unable to deliver his speech to the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly. Moynihan read it in his stead. For the text of the speech, delivered on September 1, see Department of State Bulletin, September 22, 1975, pp. 425–441.
  6. See footnote 14, Document 128.
  7. The Nuclear Suppliers Group first met in London in November 1975.
  8. A memorandum of the luncheon conversation between Kissinger and Gromyko is in Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, 1974–1976, Box 1, USSR Memcons and Reports, July 10–11, 1975—Kissinger/Gromyko Meetings in Geneva (2).