225. Letter From President Ford to General Secretary Brezhnev1
In your letter of November 202 you were kind enough to indicate your readiness to receive Secretary of State Kissinger in Moscow on December 18–19 to discuss questions of strategic arms limitations as well as the broader aspects of relations between our two countries. I greatly welcomed the spirit of that letter.
Since our exchange of letters,3 I have continued intensively to review the complex issues involved in the negotiations on strategic arms limitations. I have now come to the conclusion that the interest I know we both share in a productive visit by Secretary Kissinger would be better served if we could defer it for a few weeks. If convenient for you and your colleagues, I would like to propose any three days in the week of January 19.
I want you to know that in suggesting a postponement my sole purpose is to advance the prospects for achieving a mutually acceptable SALT agreement. I continue to believe, as I know you do, that we face no greater responsibility than that of reducing the threat of nuclear war by continuing the progress that our two countries have jointly made in limiting strategic arms. The additional time can be used for further intensive efforts to find solutions to the difficult and complex issues that remain to be settled. I assure you that my Government is actively searching for solutions, as I know yours is also. If we are to [Page 870] achieve positive results, a spirit of compromise will be required on both sides in the negotiations. I assume that you share my views, and I would welcome any additional thoughts on possible solutions which you may have.4
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 6, SALT, Nov.–Dec. 1975. No classification marking. Although no drafting information appears on the letter, Sonnenfeldt forwarded a draft under a December 9 memorandum to Kissinger; Sonnenfeldt and Kissinger revised the text by hand. (Ibid.) According to marginalia, the letter was handed to Ambassador Dobrynin by President Ford at their meeting; see Document 224.↩
- Document 219.↩
- Documents 212 and 214.↩
- In a December 11 letter to Ford, Brezhnev replied: “I have received your letter of December 9. I note with satisfaction the coincidence of our thoughts that we have no greater responsibility than that of reducing the threat of nuclear war. Of special significance in this case is, no doubt, further progress towards strategic arms limitations. I have already expressed to you my considerations as to what is causing the delay in completion to that effect; I will not repeat myself. Now, about the time of Secretary Kissinger’s visit to Moscow. If the US side needs some time to take decisions which, as you write, would make the Secretary’s visit more productive, then we are ready to regard this with understanding. The most convenient for us new time of Secretary Kissinger’s visit would be January 19–21, 1976.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 6, SALT, Nov.–Dec. 1975)↩