202. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President 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

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Soviet-American relations. During this exchange, however, Kissinger commented: “I met with the Los Angeles Times group. They think our foreign policy is in good shape. Even détente—only the word is bad. If the Democrats attack your foreign policy, they are hitting your strong point.”]

Kissinger: On the grain deal, the Soviets told us they couldn’t buy a 15% discount. It would destroy them with the East Europeans, the Third World and OPEC. The negotiations on this have been a disaster. Butz has talked every day with his guy on an open line. Then . . .

[The Vice President calls.]2

Yesterday he pulled Bell 3 out on the grounds that the grain part was completed.

President: He mentioned that yesterday. I said I didn’t think the delegation was coming home.

Kissinger: It puts us in a tough position all around. We can’t reopen the grain deal, and there’s lots of farmer pressure on us to move on the grain.

We have some options for disguising a discount which we can try on them. But if they reject it, you will have to decide whether to break the linkage. There are problems either way. In principle, I favor being tough. So does Simon. But if it fails, then it will hurt détente and get the farmers on your neck.

President: How is the grain deal?

Kissinger: It is a great grain deal. We could wait until Saturday4 and see if they will buy our oil offer.

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President: How about initialling on Saturday? That would be good politically.

Kissinger: Then we could wait 30 days. If after that we don’t have it, I think you have to go ahead on the grain.

President: I agree. Will you take care of it?5

[Omitted here is discussion of the Middle East and Angola.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 15. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. Brackets in the original.
  3. Richard Bell.
  4. October 11.
  5. Kissinger sent instructions to Robinson in telegram 241606 to Moscow, October 9. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files) Kissinger also asked Sonnenfeldt to “call Dobrynin on my behalf and tell him what we are doing.” (Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts) In an October 9 memorandum to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt reported that he had called Dobrynin that afternoon and then sent to the Soviet Embassy an informal note based on the “first two paragraphs of the instructions sent to Robinson today.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Grain Negotiations)