168. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Amb. Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador
  • 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


  • Grain Sales; Oil; SALT

President: Congratulations on the successful Soyuz splashdown.2

Dobrynin: General Secretary Brezhnev would like to congratulate both of us for the success.

[He gives the President some Soyuz pins. There was further small talk.]

I just wanted to continue the talks on grain. They want me to inform you we have a climate problem and we want to buy. Up to now they have bought 10.2 million tons. After our talk, our companies have stopped until further notice. Our estimate is that new purchases will not exceed what we have already bought. We stopped buying so as not to disturb the grain markets and to keep things stable.

President: I appreciated your mentioning it the other day and I am grateful you came in today. I think it is valuable that we know about it before it gets into the grain trade. If we can have an understanding that you will let Henry know before you do anything—I say Henry, not the Department of Agriculture. If we have the crops, we should be able to help, but we should use this channel to avoid any kind of problem.

Dobrynin: That is fine. Then we can avoid any publicity and the difficulty of last year.

President: While we are talking: You are buying our grain.3 How would you like to sell us some oil?

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Dobrynin: How would you see doing it—against grain or just straight?

President: We haven’t thought it through. Think it over.

Dobrynin: I’ll tell General Secretary Brezhnev: Maybe he will be ready to say something at Helsinki.

President: Henry has told me about Gromyko’s proposals on SALT.4 We think there is progress. We are working on it now and we hope to have a good response. We hope to have something by Friday.5 I think the possibility exists to have détente make real progress.

I think if we can keep it up and show progress on a mutual basis, I think we will be doing fine.

Kissinger: The President and I have met every day on SALT. There are only two issues left, really—cruise missiles and Backfire.

Dobrynin: Without General Secretary Brezhnev, there would have not been the progress we were able to make. He convinced his colleagues to go along with the concessions we made.

Kissinger: We will make a counterproposal to make it closer.

Dobrynin: To narrow it.

Kissinger: We can’t accept your position but I think we can narrow the differences.

Dobrynin: I hope you can, so that we can realize some progress.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 14. Secret; Nodis. Brackets are in the original. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. U.S Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft conducted a joint mission, docking in space on July 17. The Soviets returned to Earth on July 21, the Americans on July 24.
  3. On July 16, the Soviet Union agreed to purchase 3.2 million metric tons of wheat from Cook Industries Inc. and Cargill Inc.; 5 days later, the Soviet Union also agreed to purchase 4.5 million metric tons of corn and 1.1 million metric tons from Continental Grain Co.
  4. See Document 159.
  5. July 25.