181. Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to Secretary of State Kissinger in Jerusalem1

Tohak 91/WH51697. 1. Vorontsov came by just now to inform me of three items.2

2. First, he said that Moscow was in agreement on your proposal for Robinson to come to Moscow to discuss the concluding of a long-term agreement on the exchange of U.S. grain for Soviet oil. The Soviet side understands that these discussions would be preliminary and confidential. There are a number of important issues which would have to be discussed and clarified, such as how guarantees could be arranged for the long-term sale of grain to the Soviet Union because of the fact that the sellers are private companies; the question of the ratio of the two commodities; terms of delivery; the executors of the agreement on the U.S. side; etc. Moscow suggests that it might be more realistic and correspond more closely to commercial practices to conclude parallel long-term agreements, one for the sale of U.S. grain to the Soviet Union and a separate one for the sale of Soviet oil to the United States. Moscow is ready to receive Robinson at any time and they will await our word. The Soviet negotiator will be Patolichev.

3. The next issue Vorontsov raised was the question of renewal of Soviet grain purchases this year. This subject, he said, was addressed more to the President. The verbal text is about as follows:

[Page 735]

Begin text:

Moscow remembers the words of President Ford to Ambassador Dobrynin in July.3 Moscow would be glad to receive U.S. recommendations as to how best to arrange further grain purchases without causing serious political and economic problems for both sides. Moscow has noted the remark made by Secretary Kissinger in his 10 August conversation with Ambassador Dobrynin that a long-term grain-oil arrangement will not affect the amount of grain the Soviet Union could purchase this year.4 In connection with the publication of data on the U.S. grain crop (I presume he is referring to the September 10 crop report), Moscow would like to get the reaction of the U.S. side on this matter. The Soviet side proceeds from the understanding that the process of buying additional grain this year will not be the subject of discussion by Robinson in Moscow. End text.

4. Vorontsov also mentioned that the Soviet team negotiating maritime freight rates for grain shipments was going back to Moscow. He said it was no big deal or cause for alarm but that they had exhausted their instructions without reaching an agreement. The U.S. negotiators were already scheduled to come to Moscow September 8 in any event, to begin discussions for a renewal of the overall shipping agreement, and freight rate discussions could resume at that time. Vorontsov said that Blackwell, the U.S. negotiator, seemed somewhat upset at the Soviet decision and said he planned to put out a press release saying that agreement had not been reached but discussions would resume on September 9, but adding the statement “the absence of a mutually acceptable rate precludes U.S. flag participation in the recently announced grain purchases by the Soviet Union.” Vorontsov thought that sentence was needlessly inflammatory since discussions were continuing. He said he did not care for the Soviet side but it might provoke another blast from Meany.5

5. Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables of Henry Kissinger, 1974–1977, Box 12, Kissinger Trip File, August 20–Sept. 3, 1975, TOHAK (6). Secret; Sensitive.
  2. The meeting with Vorontsov presumably took place in the evening of August 28.
  3. See Document 168.
  4. No record of a meeting between Kissinger and Dobrynin on August 10 has been found.
  5. In message Tohak 98, August 29, to Kissinger in Jerusalem, Scowcroft reported: “I outlined to the President Vorontsov’s messages (Tohak 91) on grain. He [Ford] said he thought that a grain-for-oil deal might take some of the steam out of the opposition to selling grain to the Soviet Union and could be a device for getting George Meany off the hook. He said that Paul Hall told him yesterday Meany needed some graceful way to back away from the extreme position in which he had placed himself and that we should help him find one.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables of Henry Kissinger, 1974–1977, Box 12, Kissinger Trip File, August 20–Sept. 3, 1975, TOHAK (7))