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

K: When are you going out?

D: I am just behind. Anything new for me to say to Brezhnev or Gromyko, your old friends.

K: I do consider them old friends.

D: The same to you.

K: I am committing political suicide going to Moscow at this time.

D: I would not go that far but I understand political danger.

K: I am doing it because we owe it to history to try to make another effort. If we fail they will say he should not have gone and if we succeed all hell will break loose. On some of the ideas I gave you as my own you know, don’t phrase them into these exact numbers I gave you. Where I said to train [trade] off some Backfire against ship launched missiles. How we work out the numbers we have to have a little flexibility in Moscow. The difference between the first and second—outside the counting. In the second one you don’t count theas MIRVs and there may be one other wrinkle. In the second one we would probably ask that the overall totals be reduced to 2300 by ’80.

D: You mentioned this before.

K: The advantage of the second one is that it is a separate protocol.

D: On the real issue there will be no counting. Both of them. Ships with missiles against Backfire. Without any numbers.

K: Exactly. It is a number ________ in that whatever number is established for Backfire will establish the number for ships.

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D: Cruise missiles we will have it within the agreement itself.

K: In the heavy bombers, and the other stuff is the same.

D: You exchange Backfire for . . .

K: Right. The third possibility was to leave something for later discussion. Yet another variation, but I am talking as a statement, can have the cruise missiles/Backfire issue for a lesser time than the whole agreement, say five year period for an interim agreement. On the second variation then we could have more numbers in each category.

D: Okay.

K: You, Gromyko and I or whoever ought to get together Tuesday night2 briefly so that we can discuss the tactics. As a friend I have to prevent to be charged with ending too quickly to a different approach so we have to decide as we did in ________ negotiations. Who puts forward what.

D: You will decide how to handle it.

K: One final thing. We must have a serious talk about Angola. I don’t care what the Congress does. The very people who fought against it will then take it out on something else.

D: Yes, I understand this.

K: You explain this to your leaders. I look forward to seeing you in Moscow.

D: [less than 1 line not declassified]

K: [less than 1 line not declassified]

D: . . . Whatever is best. See you on Tuesday. You don’t know if there are any surprises for us in the State of the Union3—will there be any surprises?

K: No. It looks to me, the draft that now exists is mostly domestic.

D: I am sure.

K: There will be something on foreign policy. At present no particular country is mentioned. As it stands it is not a major problem for you.

D: Okay, Henry. Thank you. See you on Tuesday.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations. No classification marking. Blank underscores indicate omissions in the original.
  2. January 20.
  3. Ford delivered his State of the Union address on January 19. For the text, see Public Papers: Ford, 1976, No. 19.
  4. In a January 17 memorandum to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt reported: “As you asked, I spoke to Vorontsov at about 4 p.m. I told him I was calling at your request to reiterate and reemphasize what was said to Dobrynin before his departure, i.e., that there must be no military offensive in Angola while you are in Moscow. I asked Vorontsov to convey this promptly to his authorities in Moscow. He said he understood the point and would do so at once.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 4, Angola)