191. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald R. 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

President: I am pleased to see the progress on the [US-Soviet] grain deal.

Kissinger: It is substantially done, if Seidman, Greenspan and Lynn can keep quiet. The Soviets want five million plus an option for three. Robinson prefers six firm—which is probably better. It gives better leverage.

[Page 757]

President: Can I say something in Oklahoma? “Encouraging progress is being made;” “substantial regular sales on a five-year basis.”2

Kissinger: Another question is whether this year’s extra purchase should be part of the five years.

President: I would rather it didn’t.

Kissinger: I agree.

[Omitted here is a brief exchange on the Middle East, in particular, Congress and arms sales to Jordan.]

Kissinger: On Gromyko, I would lay the groundwork. Say our two countries, whatever the problems are, have the responsibility for world peace. There have been ups and downs and some problems here which have hurt and which are essentially unassociated with US-Soviet relations. If we could have a summit with a SALT agreement, a Threshold Test Ban and some other things, we would solidify détente.

President: And the grain deal.

Kissinger: On the oil, I didn’t finish. They are proposing 12 million tons. Perhaps it will go to 25 if we will sell them modern drilling equipment.

President: What about the price?

Kissinger: They are refusing a discount now, but Chuck3 thinks he can get 10–15 percent.

This is the way Gromyko would like to proceed. He is very formal. He said Brezhnev wants to come December 15. On SALT, they have heard 2500 ALCM and 1000 SLCM. I would stick with all that. Don’t mention Backfire or the difference between nuclear and conventional.

On Schlesinger’s proposal: The Backfire proposal gives us an opening. On the other he has given us something except for nuclear versus conventional. If Jim will move 300 to 600—because the Soviets haven’t ever heard 300—we might try his idea of 100 between 600 and 1500.

[Page 758]

The ALCM proposal, by limiting the number of bombers which carry them, we can do it. We can just ignore the nuclear versus conventional and let it surface in Geneva. We may get by with it but it may cause an explosion. I am worried about this issue, because potentially the Soviets could flood us with cruise missiles and we have no defense against them.

President: Where do we stand on when we start the next round?

Kissinger: 1977.

President: Can’t we do what we can now and take up what is left in 1977?

Kissinger: I don’t want you to get into a brawl with Brezhnev on it. Since they have conventional cruise missiles, they may welcome this ambiguity.

President: If we postpone the conventional cruise missile to 1977, wouldn’t Defense be satisfied?

Kissinger: Sure.

President: Then we would have a better idea of where we are going.

Kissinger: Then I will turn Schlesinger’s idea into a specific proposal.

President: Should we reverse on the land mobiles?

Kissinger: I would let that ride for a few weeks.

President: Can we move on MBFR?

Kissinger: Ask him, but don’t appear eager.

On the Middle East, he will unload on you, but don’t let him nail you. I think we can agree to start a discussion for Geneva.

President: Didn’t we keep them generally informed?

Kissinger: No. He will ask for a commitment that we will make no move without them. You can say it will depend on the parties but we will commit ourselves to keep them informed. Tell him we are willing to cooperate and are willing to discuss the Geneva Conference. Say if the two parties come to us, it is tough to refuse.

I would begin with the Brezhnev visit—after your opening statement.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 15. 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. During his remarks at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City on September 19, Ford addressed the status of talks with the Soviets on grain sales: “I am glad to report that encouraging progress is being made on an agreement which will enable us to make additional sales this year and substantial sales on a regular basis over the next 5 years. Neither our Government nor the Soviet Union, its Government, would set the price. The Soviet Union would pay the full amount, the full market price throughout the length of this agreement. I am optimistic that the United States and the Soviet Union will reach this agreement, which will benefit American Farmers and the American consumers, an agreement that will benefit both countries, so that the temporary halt in grain sales can be lifted.” For the full text of his remarks, see Public Papers: Ford, 1975, No. 571.
  3. Charles Robinson.