205. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1

K: Mr. Ambassador.

D: They hoped to see you too and to speak with the President—the cosmonauts. I said he is probably in Canada—nobody knows.

K: Where could I have seen them when they saw the President. When are they coming back?

D: On the 22nd.

K: I will be in China. When will they leave here?

D: Tomorrow morning.

K: What time?

D: Around nine. Could you arrange something before?

K: I don’t have to see them for more than 10 minutes, do I?

D: I am sure they would prefer to see you.

K: Would they see me at 8:45 in the State Department?

D: That is 8:45?

K: Yes, is that too late?

D: I am sure they would like it very much.

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K: Bring them at 8:45.

D: I think they would prefer to see you there. Your people will know?

K: Yes. Are they flying on a commercial plane?

D: No, a special one.

K: Then they can leave any time. Do you want me to have our astronauts here too?

D: It is up to you. In Moscow they will appreciate it.

K: How much of a discount do I get on oil if I do this?

D: It is so political—you press us too hard.

K: When you have amateurs doing this it is very hard for us.

D: I got a telegram from the very top—it was clear before but they are pressing very hard.

K: Did I press you on television?2

D: No, you made it very clear. All the press makes it clear that all the business is political not commercial. First you want to press the Arab world. Commercial it is nothing because it is very few barrels we are going to sell you. You want to say you are very smart Yankee.

K: You don’t understand. We are trying to help you restore relations with the Israelis!

D: I didn’t want to bother you.

K: I want to give you something to write to Moscow about, can I? We have these morons—everyone is to get in the newspapers. We are not going to exert much pressure on the Arabs with this oil—how do you think it will affect the OPEC situation.

D: Our impression is that you are trying to be very stubborn. We see telegrams from the heads of Socialist countries saying are you going to yield. You put us in an embarrassing position.

K: Don’t be surprised if we buy from the Chinese, you have had your chance. What I would like to do is this—send Robinson back on Wednesday3 and get the thing finished up.

D: The grain deal separate from the oil?

K: By having you accept our position.

D: On oil?

K: If you make a call to Gromyko why won’t he accept it. Listen, what I think should be done is this—our problem is partly political but [Page 825] not political in the sense that you have in mind. Not in the sense of scoring a victory over the Arabs with 200,000 barrels of oil. What we are concerned with is to be able to show that we could make an arrangement that is of great interest to the U.S. in an area of concern to us in order to defuse people like Jackson. My suggestion is that I would be prepared to let them sign the grain deal this week and sign a letter of intent on the oil.

D: What kind of letter?

K: Roughly along the lines of what we have been negotiating. I think we can find an understanding on some of these corollary things like shipping. You will try to work out something in the negotiations not now, on the real agreement that will benefit us somewhat.

D: What do you mean some benefit?

K: I am sure we could work out through a combination of the four points we gave you last week, some combination of things which if they don’t amount to 15% would show some benefit we could justify on this.

D: Friend to friend?

K: Yes.

D: The situation is we are now forced because of a very bad crop to buy quite an amount of grain from the U.S. This is on top level. We were forced to accept your terms. The high rates are unjustified. Your Administration—the President and you personally are taking our throats and impressing high rates on shipping which is not justified. We swallowed it. We felt it is necessary although we could use ships of our own. But now you are trying to force us to swallow another thing on the oil business. We don’t care about 15 or 20%, we are prepared to pay you more. But before the Party Congress it looks like they are trying to take.

K: You have to admit my public statements have stayed far away from anything like that.

D: I am stating how we feel.

K: How do you propose we conclude it now?

D: We have a grain deal which is favorable to you—to your farmers and to your President. He will get many votes because of it. It is a good deal commercially for you and it is necessary for us period! There is another deal with oil but don’t force us to take too many concessions. We are prepared to make some concessions. In Moscow the Secretary General says you are trying to make a political gain. We have some difficulties and a different situation in the oil world but one after the other. What was the situation in Moscow the Administration wants to have an agreement on oil but you put us in a situation where it is awkward for us to accept it. On grain you propose and we accept free [Page 826] commercial market. But on oil we have to make reductions for you so now. Is it true you don’t want to give us reductions but you give the U.S. reductions, the socialist countries are saying.

K: But I want you to advise me.

D: But in Moscow it is growing to the extent where it is very difficult. O.K. we say we will have to pay them.

K: What is your personal advice?

D: My personal advice for the oil you can buy (static in the lines).

K: I have trouble hearing there is something wrong with the lines. Can you hang up for a minute.

D: Yes.

K: O.K.

D: When are you going to Canada?

K: Tomorrow at 3:00.

D: I can come to see you for ½ an hour to let me explain in detail because it is very sensitive?

K: Yes, between 12 and 1:00. Bring your cosmonauts by at 8:45.

D: Tell your people you are calling me between 12 and 1:00. I think it is important.

K: But we should settle it this week.

D: If you would see me alone we could settle things.

K: Good. Bye.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 31, Dobrynin/Kissinger Telcons (4). No classification marking.
  2. During an interview on the NBC News program “Meet the Press” on October 12, Kissinger addressed the “realities” underlying Soviet-American relations, including strategic arms limitation talks and the grain–oil negotiations. For the full text of the interview, see Department of State Bulletin, November 10, 1975, pp. 657–662.
  3. October 15.