20. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • 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

Kissinger: We shouldn’t accept that interpretation of the Nuclear War treaty.2 We can send them back a soft reply, maybe tomorrow so it gets there over the weekend. We are drafting something to say. We can say we appreciate their message;3 we are concerned about the Eastern Mediterranean; we support peace and the independence of Cyprus. They want us to put some pressure on the Turks. We may need to do something against the Turks, but not with them. We should tell them about the note—it doesn’t force us to do anything.

President: Does the Soviet Union think we would fall for this?

Kissinger: They never cease trying shifty ploys. The first time I went there they tried to fiddle with the communiqué after we had agreed. Gromyko tried to tell me Brezhnev was unavailable and so it couldn’t be changed back. I said, “All right, I’ll make a public statement [Page 57] about what happened.” He called Brezhnev and got it changed.4 The Chinese never make cheap ones like the Soviets.

President: Does Dobrynin personally try to play a role?

Kissinger: He knows the Politburo and is a diplomatic Communist. But he understands foreign psychology. Brezhnev when he comes will be great the first day, then start to sulk. He will get worse and worse. But if you hold, everything will break at the last minute. They accepted all our points on SALT at the last minute in 1972. Their method of negotiation is very unpleasant—they are unpleasant. They are anxious for good terms with you, though, and we should capitalize on that. This note is a B+ one.

[Omitted here is discussion of the Middle East, including U.S. relations with Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Syria, and the Palestine Liberation Organization.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 5. Secret; Nodis. The memorandum was transcribed from an attached set of Scowcroft’s handwritten notes. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Ford met with Kissinger there from 9:10 to 10:14 a.m.; Scowcroft joined the meeting at 9:34. (Ibid., White House Office Files)
  2. Reference is apparently to a proposal in the U.S. Senate on how to interpret the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, signed in Moscow on June 22, 1973. (24 UST 1478; TIAS 7654)
  3. Document 18.
  4. Reference is to Kissinger’s meeting with Gromyko in Moscow on April 24, 1972. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 160.