258. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • USSR:
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU; Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Vasiliy V. Kuznetsov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Georgiy M. Korniyenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Vasiliy G. Makarov, Chef de Cabinet to the Foreign Minister
  • V. G. Komplektov, Acting Chief of USA Dept., MFA
  • Valerian V. Mikhailov, Deputy Chief of USA Dept., MFA
  • Oleg Grinevskiy, Deputy Chief of Middle East Dept., MFA
  • Oleg M. Sokolov, Chief of International Affairs, USA Dept., MFA
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Counselor, Second European Dept., MFA (Interpreter)
  • US:
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Amb. Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Ambassador to the USSR
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department
  • William G. Hyland, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • Arthur R. Day, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • Edward F. Fugit, Country Officer, Angola
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Middle East; Angola; Japan; China; Limitation of New Weapons of Mass Destruction; PNE Negotiation; MBFR

Gromyko: I think we can begin, Mr. Secretary. Do you have any ideas on what we should take up? I thought the Middle East.

Kissinger: Well, we must state our opinion on Angola. And then we are prepared to discuss the Middle East, and any other subject you would like to discuss.

Gromyko: Let’s rather discuss the Middle East, because we have had no discussions yet on that and we have discussed Angola. Unless you have nothing to discuss on the Middle East.

[Page 976]

Kissinger: I have something. But I must point out that messages on Angola at the highest level have a tendency to go unanswered, which is a new factor in our relationship.

Gromyko: What do you suggest?

Kissinger: You suggested the Middle East; we suggested Angola—we can compromise on discussing peaceful nuclear explosions. [Laughter]

Gromyko: Let’s do that. That means we will merely continue the discussion, not start it.

Kissinger: I’m prepared to discuss the Middle East first. I just wanted to make clear we will state our view on Angola. And we still need answers to some of the questions.

Gromyko: That you have said already.

[The waiters bring in coffee and snacks].

It is very hard to discuss questions like the Middle East, Angola and peaceful nuclear explosions, without coffee.

Middle East

I’d certainly like to know your views, Mr. Secretary, regarding the present situation in the Middle East and regarding possible steps leading towards a settlement.

Kissinger: At this moment there is a United Nations debate, in which our two representatives are exhausting their repertory of adjectives. I do not believe this debate will lead to a conclusion which will . . .

Gromyko: In the Security Council?

Kissinger: In the Security Council . . . which I don’t believe will lead to a clearcut conclusion. And the question then is where we go from there.

Gromyko: Even assuming it doesn’t lead to any positive results, what is your conclusion?

Kissinger: I think we should let the discussion run its course in the Security Council. After that, the question is how the peace process can be resumed.

Gromyko: Abstracting ourselves from the Security Council discussions for a moment, what is your opinion on the substance of the matter? What possible steps do you foresee? Or do you believe it is impossible to take any further steps, for one reason or another?

Kissinger: We believe a way should be found by which the Geneva Conference could be reassembled. Either through a preparatory conference or directly.

Gromyko: With respect to the first part of your remarks, regarding the need to find some way of reassembling the Geneva Conference, that [Page 977] suits us because we too believe the Geneva Conference would be useful. With regard to the second part, some multilateral consultations, that is something we have discussed before. You know our view, because we discussed it in the fall of last year and I believe I have nothing to add on the subject of some sort of preparatory consultations.

I think it would be best if you simply dropped the whole idea of a preparatory conference because I don’t think it is a viable one, and you would simply be wasting your effort. Because all the difficulties facing us right now and standing in the way of finding a settlement would be transferred to that forum as well. However you call the forum—a preliminary conference or whatever. And that relates to the question of the Palestinians and their role in such a forum. So you can’t hide from that question.

Kissinger: It is true, there is no way of avoiding discussion of the question, but the issue is whether in discussion of the question, the Palestinians have to be present from the beginning.

Gromyko: Our view is they must be present in the multilateral discussions from the beginning. As regards bilateral discussions, that is what we are doing right here. And you have certainly discussed it on a bilateral basis with many, and so have we.

Kissinger: You know this is not possible for us at this moment, and we will just have to just work as we have until we find a common denominator. We suggested the idea of a preparatory conference.

Gromyko: If at the present it is impossible for you to take part in any multilateral discussions with the Palestinians, for us and others it is impossible to take part in multilateral discussions without the Palestinians.

Of course, it is conceivable that when all the parties concerned reach prior agreement, prior to the actual opening of Geneva, that it can open without the Palestinians but that as soon as it opens the Palestinians can take part in the discussion of the substance. But I emphasize, prior agreement with the parties concerned would be necessary, and of course it would have to be concerted with the Palestinians themselves.

Kissinger: We do not believe conditions are right yet. We have said we can’t ask Israel to negotiate with a party that doesn’t accept the existence of Israel and that doesn’t accept Resolutions 242 and 338.

Gromyko: We know what Israel’s position is in that regard and we know that the position enjoys US support. But after all, Israel never displayed a positive attitude on the question of assuring the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, and notably the legitimate demand of the Palestinians to be allowed to set up their own national state of the Arab people of Palestine. So how can Israel take the position of requiring [Page 978] them to recognize Israel as a state in those circumstances? If Israel wants to see the Palestinians taking that sort of position, surely Israel has to make some sort of movement in the regard I have stated.

There should be no question of the difficulty in deciding who should have to take the first move—who is to say “A.” It should be easy to settle that one has to say “A” and the other has to say “B.” That is what diplomacy is for. It should be a second-rate matter as long as the substance is settled.

And we have sufficient ground as far as this train of thought. You remember I said this to you when I was in the United States, and in fact I said this to Israeli Foreign Minister Allon.

Kissinger: I’m not here to speak for Israel. On some points we agree with them and on some we do not. True, any progress will depend on US influence on Israel. We have proved we are prepared to do this. The United States has repeatedly declared it will not deal with the Palestinians until they recognize the State of Israel and Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. It follows from that that if the Palestinians do this, certain policy conclusions will follow in the United States. That would not go unanswered in the United States. And that is not without significance.

Gromyko: But the Palestinians say they cannot do any such thing until Israel recognizes their legitimate rights, notably their legitimate right to set up an independent state of the Palestinian people. And this is something we know only too well. I don’t know whether you know, but we certainly do. Surely the problem I mentioned—of who says “A”—is one that is going to be an impediment to progress. I therefore ask what is diplomacy for? Please tell me. What is diplomacy for, if it can’t resolve the question of who says “A?”

Kissinger: That’s what I am suggesting. The Palestinians should say “A.”

Gromyko: This should be resolved in such a way that the prestige of no one is prejudiced. If that is the only stumbling block, surely the US and Soviet Union could organize it in such a way that “A” is said simultaneously by both sides. Surely it can’t be a completely insurmountable obstacle. [Korniyenko shows Gromyko a talking paper.]

Kissinger: Is Korniyenko making trouble again?

Korniyenko: Double A instead of “A” and “B.”

Kissinger: I was saying, if you understand American football, we will trade Sonnenfeldt for Korniyenko and a draft choice.

Gromyko: Double “A.”

Kissinger: There are two separate problems. One is the attitude of Israel to the Palestinians; the other is the attitude of the United States to the Palestinians. The attitude of Israel to the Palestinians will lag be[Page 979]hind the attitude of the United States inevitably, given the complexity of their domestic situation. Of course, there is no complexity in our domestic situation. If Palestinian recognition of Israel went unreciprocated for a considerable length of time, that would itself be a fact of significance. But I have said consistently that the United States would not ignore such a statement by the Palestinians.

Gromyko: We believe the basis I’ve suggested is the only possible one for a search for a solution to this matter. The basis that Israel is trying to impose—and by and large you seem to be in sympathy with it—that first the Palestinians should undertake and state their readiness to recognize and only then can Israel do it—is unrealistic. Even if we took that kind of attitude, it would not have any positive result. This is an artificial difficulty created by Israel itself, though you seem prepared to share it.

Kissinger: What I’ve said is an American proposal, not an Israeli proposal. I believe Israel would probably not respond immediately to a Palestinian statement of recognition. I’m speaking for the United States, and not for Israel.

Gromyko: Allon spoke of it in New York, and they say it every day. I certainly see no possibility of unilateral movement as you want to see, particularly if as you say even after a statement or decision taken by the Palestinians Israel would temporize for a while before responding. That makes it unrealistic. We see it as an artificial construction. Perhaps related to certain domestic conditions, but I don’t want to delve into that; you know best.

So I see it as difficult. I have felt anyway that because of certain remarks you have made, we probably won’t make headway.

Kissinger: Then we should each do what we can to keep the situation restrained and keep in contact.

Gromyko: Our position has been all along and is one of restraint. We have never been in sympathy with a military solution to the problem; we have never been in sympathy with continuing clashes in the Middle East. At the same time, the very logic of the facts has all too frequently prevailed in these matters. So we would emphasize that if anyone thinks the danger has been removed from the area, that certainly is far too early.

Kissinger: We don’t believe the danger is removed. We have repeatedly stated we are prepared to make a major effort when the time is ready. Not an unmeasurable period of time. We don’t believe conditions can be maintained as they are. On the contrary. We don’t believe it. And we have no intention of maintaining them as they are.

Gromyko: Let’s take another subject. On the understanding that any side can display initiative in terms of exchanging views in one place or another, or on one subject or another.

[Page 980]

Kissinger: Correct. Do you want to go to another subject?

Gromyko: All right.


Kissinger: In that case, I’d like to state our view on Angola.

We recognize that the Soviet Union has supported the MPLA for a long time. And we recognize that some of the activities in Angola have historic reason and understandable causes.

But we also believe that over a period of months, and recently, they have reached dimensions that are inconsistent with the principles we have jointly signed. We have called the attention of the Soviet Government for many months to our concerns. We have made repeated offers to stop foreign intervention. We have even said we would use our influence to bring about the initial withdrawal of South African forces, to be followed by the withdrawal of other forces.

But we are confronted by the fact that answers are evasive and many months go by.

We cannot accept that 10,000 troops be sent as an expeditionary force carried in Soviet aircraft, with Soviet equipment. We must take public notice. The tragedy is that those of us who have supported the policy of détente with the Soviet Union will increasingly be put into the position of attacking this policy.

So we believe something should be done about this before irreparable damage is caused.

We have made a specific proposal over the weeks. This is our attitude, which we cannot give up.

Gromyko: First of all, I would like to say that fundamentally and in principle our attitude on the Angola question was set out on your visit to this country and personally to you by General Secretary Brezhnev.

With respect to your remarks concerning Cuba, I have no intention of discussing whatever actions Cuba is taking. We have not been authorized by the Cuban Government to speak on its behalf, but we do know that what Cuba is doing to render assistance to the legitimate Angolan Government, at the specific request of that Angolan Government—which I must say has been inflated out of all proportion in the United States—is a matter between Cuba and the legitimate government of Angola.

That concerns Cuba. With respect to the Soviet Union, let me say this:

First, we have taken note—and this relates not just to the Soviet Union but to the majority of the states—that following the proclamation of Angolan independence, Angola became the victim of outside intervention, and in effect that intervention began earlier. Is it not a fact [Page 981] that the South African Government has introduced its military forces in Angola? If someone wants to close their eyes, nonetheless it is a fact that we see and others do. It is a fact that it is taking place.

Some say they are in the process of being withdrawn. What kind of fact is that if every day we read reports that the South African forces are increasing?

So, the first fact is, there is a clear-cut case of intervention, and in fact, aggression, that is taking place against Angola by South Africa.

That is the first point. The second point is this:

The Soviet Union did assist the MPLA in its fight for the independence of Angola against the colonialists. And that is something we made absolutely no secret of. That part is a completely open book. After independence, we established relations with the new legitimate government and on that we based accordingly our policy and practical actions, regarding Angola as an independent and sovereign state. General Secretary Brezhnev told you previously that we had sold quantities—and let me say, insignificant quantities—of arms. And, incidentally, the United States—and there is ample information to that effect—has given funds and never ended giving supplies to the separatist elements in Angola that are backed by external elements which are well known. The United States has given them substantial assistance, and that fact is well known.

Thirdly, if there is any impression that the Soviet Union has virtually nothing else to do and does nothing else except talk somebody in Angola out of any contacts or to discourage any formation of any coalition government, that is a big mistake. We have spoken not a word either for or against such contacts and talks. We consider that a matter for the sovereign government of Angola themselves.

So that is the answer to your so-called proposals. Has the Soviet Union ever objected on that score? Certainly not.

And my fourth and last point:

You have hinted that the possible development of events in Angola might adversely affect Soviet-American relations. Well, if the United States wants that, then those events can adversely affect our relationship. If that’s what the U.S. wants. We believe that all Soviet-American relations, and all that has been achieved, will override all momentary considerations or momentary events in Angola. So, objectively speaking, there is no reason for events in Angola to have an adverse effect on Soviet-American relations.

That is what I wanted to say to your remarks.

Kissinger: I have a few observations, Mr. Foreign Minister.

It is not true that the United States has supported what you call separatist forces. The United States gave no military assistance to those [Page 982] forces until after the massive Soviet support to the MPLA. In fact, the United States rejected many opportunities in 1974 to give aid because we did not want to introduce the great power rivalry in Africa. Even after Soviet support started, we made proposals to you to halt it and to prevent it from getting out of hand.

We are not against the MPLA. We cannot recognize it as a legitimate government that is not recognized by half of the African states and established contrary to OAU resolutions.

Therefore, we believe there were many opportunities, in light of our specific responsibility to insulate the problem from great power rivalry. We have offered to use our influence to get South African forces out and we asked only for assurances that other foreign forces will leave.

When there are 20 flights a week from Cuba to Angola with Soviet planes, with 200 troops a day from Cuba to Angola, it isn’t something the Soviet Government can simply say doesn’t concern the Soviet Union. What would the Soviet Union say if American planes brought troops to another country?

So the reality is these are facts inconsistent with the principles we signed in June 1972.2

Moreover, what makes these events so tragic is that all the remarks the Foreign Minister has made overlook the situation in the United States, in which those who look for every opportunity to injure our policy will attack this—and we will not oppose it. Even those who oppose doing something in Angola propose doing things directly to the Soviet Union rather than in Angola.

It is a tragedy because the Soviet Union has nothing to gain in Angola. We have nothing to gain in Angola. Five years from now it will make no difference. I must say this is a tragedy, and I say this as one who has been the foremost defender of U.S.-Soviet rapprochement in the United States.

Gromyko: There is one point you made with which I certainly agree; the Soviet Union wants nothing whatever in Angola, and seeks no unilateral gain in Angola. We only want to see Angola as an independent and sovereign state. That’s all . . .

Kissinger: It is difficult to be sovereign and independent if there are 10,000 foreign troops. 80,000 Portuguese troops faced a guerrilla war, and I wouldn’t be surprised if 10,000 Cubans faced a protracted war.

[Page 983]

Gromyko: To that I would reply that it is indeed most difficult to be an independent and sovereign state if there are in that state a mass of outside invading forces, with massive equipment, against the legitimate government. That does indeed create difficulties in the way of a sovereign and independent state.

You say we have not given a reply to your proposals. That I don’t understand. What other reply do you want? You have heard our pronouncements and the reply by General Secretary Brezhnev; you’ve heard the pronouncements and the reply I have just given you. What other do you want?

Kissinger: The last message we received from General Secretary Brezhnev said that if the South African forces were withdrawn, the question of the Cuban forces would solve itself in a “natural way.”3 We have asked in what you mean by a “natural way,” and how would it take place. No reply has been received in over two weeks.

Gromyko: I said at the very outset that we cannot speak on behalf of the Cubans. We are not authorized to speak for them. So what you speak about is a hypothetical question—what would happen if the Cubans were withdrawn. I cannot speak about it. It is first and foremost for the legitimate government of Angola to react, and it would be seen in the response they take to the withdrawal of South African forces. But that is hypothetical, because there is no withdrawal of South African forces.

Kissinger: We received a message from the General Secretary that if the South Africans leave, the problem of the others would be settled “in a natural way.” The question is: what does that mean?

Gromyko: It means exactly what it says. But you’re now discussing a purely hypothetical case. There is no South African withdrawal.

Kissinger: I asked what would happen if the South Africans withdrew. Clearly, it means the South African forces must first be withdrawn.

Gromyko: The government of the People’s Republic of Angola will set out its reaction after the withdrawal of South African forces. The Soviet Union is not the government of the People’s Republic of Angola. But our view is as set out in the General Secretary’s message, and I think the right thing to do would be to take a serious view of it.

On that note, I think I have exhausted all I have to say. Otherwise, I would just be repeating myself.

Kissinger: I want to say two things: We simply cannot accept that the government of Cuba, dependent entirely upon Soviet support in [Page 984] Cuba and dependent entirely on the Soviet logistical support—nor would you say if we decided to put an end to this by dealing with Cuba directly that this is a matter of no concern to the Soviet Union. Second, you cannot say it makes no difference when the intervention of the Cubans ends—they were brought in by Soviet planes and ships and you will not say when this will end.

It is a pity this has come to pass when many opportunities existed for two great powers to settle this in a farsighted way.

Gromyko: I regret the conclusions you draw. I have nothing to add to the statements on our side. It is those statements that express our opinion, and not the interpretation you give.

Kissinger: It wouldn’t be the first time in history that events that no one can explain afterwards give rise to consequences out of proportion to their intrinsic significance.

Gromyko: We think no one else but ourselves can interpret our position and views. It is for us alone to set them out. Any attempt to interpret them in a wrongful manner can only be seen as regrettable.

And if on your return to the United States you start to aggravate this whole matter and make statements casting aspersions on our relations, it will not be we who will bear responsibility for the consequences. It will be the responsibility solely of the United States. I cannot believe that this meets the interests of the world situation.

Kissinger: Well, I’ve stated my view, and I see no need to repeat it.

Gromyko: Well, let’s turn to the next question.

Kissinger: I picked the last topic; why don’t you pick the next one?


Gromyko: Do we have anything at all in the Far East? Do you have any comments on that? What are your assessments? Are you expecting any surprises? You have many friends in that area—friends who were looking out of the wrong side of their face at us.

Kissinger: You were in the Far East more recently; why don’t you give your impression?

Gromyko: [Laughs] That’s no problem. I can say a few words.

I was in Japan.4 While I was there I set out our position on the question of Soviet-Japanese relations. We spoke out in favor of more normal relations, in the interest of détente and peace. In short, we applied the principles that underlined U.S.-Soviet relations and that found expres[Page 985]sion in the relevant documents signed between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Of the political questions, there was one which was within our field of vision as well as of the Japanese—that was the possibility of a Sino-Japanese Treaty being signed. We gave our assessment of China’s attempts to include in that treaty a clause directly aimed at the Soviet Union—and you know what I’m referring to. On the Japanese side, they gave their assessment of the situation and they, in effect, said they assessed China’s claims in a somewhat different fashion. They underestimated somewhat the Chinese intentions in this respect. But the Japanese do understand our concerns.

As we understand it—and they said so themselves—the negotiations have not yet been completed, and we can only guess at the further development of those negotiations, and I would refrain from any kind of forecast. We would like to believe that the common sense of the Japanese will prevail, as well as their understanding of the proper role of Soviet-Japanese relations.

We made some references to bilateral economic relations between our two countries, but no specific agreements were signed. We also took up a few purely bilateral matters and a few others—such as fishing. But not too much, because there are special commissions set up for that, and that is within their jurisdiction.

You know the Japanese frequently make reference to the so-called northern territories.5 References were made during this visit as well, but it was not really discussed at these meetings, because the two sides speak totally different languages and the positions were totally at variance.

As elsewhere, in Japan I made no attempt whatsoever to reach any agreement or understanding that is at variance with the interests of any other country, including the United States. You can verify that with the Japanese. I said it publicly and privately.

Are you disappointed?

Kissinger: We recognize you gained no unilateral advantage in Japan, and it was in the spirit of our relationship.

No, I appreciate your explanation, and seriously I believe it reflects the principles of restraint that should govern our relations everywhere and are the basis of our relationship.

What we have heard from Japan coincides with the Foreign Minister’s statement. The Foreign Minister’s conduct was consistent with our relationship. We heard nothing contradictory.

[Page 986]

Gromyko: Can I ask one question?

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: There have been references in various publications to the proposed establishment of a US-Japanese consultative body or agency dealing with armament and armed forces. Can you give us some information about this? Any time we hear information that Japanese are taking steps to conserve wildlife and birds, it causes no concern. We are always prepared to cooperate with that. But when we hear something about armaments, we do display some concern, which is not unfounded.

Kissinger: All we are familiar with is that there is an agreement for the Japanese Foreign Minister and the American Secretary of State to meet twice a year. But we meet so often at international meetings that in fact there is no need to schedule special meetings. But I am familiar with no arrangement to consult on weapons. Certainly at a high level; maybe at a very low level. I’ll check when I get back and let Dobrynin know.

Gromyko: The military must have bypassed the Department of State.

Kissinger: What is your source? Japan and the United States are allies. I’m not familiar with any new institution. No new institution could be set up without our approval. But I want to check and make sure there is nothing that is being misunderstood. What is your source?

Korniyenko: Something at the end of December.

Gromyko: In the press. I read something about it just before I left for Japan.

Kissinger: Anyway, no new body has been set up to deal with military questions. But I will check and let Dobrynin know.


Gromyko: Let us now mentally transfer ourselves to China. It’s safe, of course, for you to go right into China, but for us it’s more complicated. You might quite logically ask me what my views are on this question, and it’s quite legitimate.

Our bilateral relations have undergone no change in recent months.

Kissinger: About China? Or are you approaching me carefully?

Gromyko: Going around! Our bilateral relations have undergone no changes in recent months.

With respect to China’s foreign policy, it is very sharply leveled against us, and in fact against the line of policy jointly formulated by the Soviet Union and the United States and expressed in our joint documents. Their view is the worse it is, the better. But you know better; you [Page 987] were there most recently, and you patiently had to listen to a few lectures while you were there.

I was thinking when I read the reports of what you had to endure, I said to myself, I wish I could see Dr. Kissinger’s face right now. I wonder how he feels.

Kissinger: Of course, you have an advantage in Peking in that you have an Ambassador and we have only a Chief of Liaison Office. So we don’t get invited to so many diplomatic functions, at least of the intensity your Ambassador does.

It is true that the Chinese expressed their attitude to our relationship and found it too good, from their point of view. Of course, they will be delighted by the events of the previous subject. But it’s true: our bilateral relations [with China] are normal and developing. And during President Ford’s visit, this progress was confirmed.

Gromyko: I would like to ask one question, and it is of course your right to reply or not.

Kissinger: If it were not my right, you would of course force me to answer. [Laughter]

Gromyko: You are familiar with the general line of China’s policy as well as its policy toward various areas of the world—the Soviet Union, Europe, Asia. You know this policy is sharply at variance and totally counter to the line we have agreed on and reflected in our agreements, and the line we have confirmed in our discussions recently.

But leading figures in the United States, at a very high level, including the President and Secretary of State, studiously avoid giving an assessment of that line, which is sharply against détente and is a line which seeks deterioration of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. We in the Soviet leadership shrug our shoulders and wonder what reserves of patience it must take to simply endure this line and take no view. But the Soviet leadership pursues the line of peace and détente.

Kissinger: I think the Foreign Minister could not have read the toasts I gave on my visit to Peking in October, in which on two occasions I made it clear the United States would maintain its policy in accordance with our national interests.6 And I made it clear even more privately. So it is clear we do not give the Chinese a veto over our policy, and as I said to the General Secretary, we remain committed to the policy we are pursuing.

[Page 988]

We were told there is a Soviet faction in the Chinese leadership, and they will no doubt tell you we have told them we will maintain our relations with the Soviet Union.

They can see what is happening in our relationship and will be delighted. But we have made clear we are prepared to improve our relationship with the Soviet Union.

Gromyko: When is your next trip to Peking?

Kissinger: We have not set a precise date.

Gromyko: You are about to go on an African holiday. If rumors are correct.

Kissinger: Not before the end of March.

Dobrynin: And to Latin America.

Kissinger: Latin America is first.

Gromyko: You are first going to invade Latin America and then you invade Africa.

Kissinger: No, you are forcing us into Africa in a much more active way.

Limitation of New Weapons of Mass Destruction

Gromyko: You know, Dr. Kissinger, the Disarmament Committee in Geneva seems to be working very sluggishly. Maybe we should give it an injection of some sort. The Committee has before it certain new questions to discuss, notably the question we first raised at the UN General Assembly. There was an appropriate resolution passed and now it goes to the Disarmament Committee, that is the limitation of new weapons systems. We know you take a cautious attitude. In fact you even start looking a bit bored when I discuss that subject. But we think it should be discussed.

Kissinger: No, I’m confused whether you mean that no state can develop weapons beyond what it has developed or that no state can develop weapons beyond what we have developed. So we have difficulty giving instructions to our delegation.

Gromyko: Then let us discuss that matter in the Committee and/or parallel with the work of the Committee—bilateral discussion of the matter to discuss various points. But we can’t say that because we take a dim view we can’t discuss it.

Kissinger: Perhaps our Ambassador here could discuss it here with someone you delegate, to get further clarification.

Gromyko: We wouldn’t want the exchange to take the form only of questions addressed to us. We would like perhaps not only to take questions but also to put them.

Kissinger: That is very appropriate. Why don’t we have discussions here in Moscow?

[Page 989]

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: Stoessel will take care of it.

Gromyko: All right.

Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE) Negotiation

Kissinger: He’s engaged in discussions on peaceful nuclear explosions.

Gromyko: Let’s discuss.

Kissinger: You went three explosions a year beyond 150 kilotons. And we believe that would make verification impossible. Not to speak of ratification.

Gromyko: What is your proposal?

Kissinger: Our view is to take this up at the review conference in five years. Our understanding is you have no particular use for it now but just don’t want to foreclose the long-term future.

Gromyko: Representatives of the two sides are due to resume on January 27th.

Kissinger: Correct.

Gromyko: They could resume their discussion and perhaps take this up.

Kissinger: We should both keep an eye on these discussions and bring them to a successful conclusion.

Gromyko: There should be a successful conclusion.


Kissinger: On the proposal last night with respect to Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions, do you have the number from which the two-to-three percent is to be calculated?

Gromyko: The General Secretary set out our view of principles, and they give you the line along which we are thinking and which will be set out in detail. And when we submit the specific proposals after discussions resume in Vienna, we will have specific considerations to set forth, and we are now giving deliberation to that aspect.

Kissinger: Because we can’t give a reply until we know what your number is.

Gromyko: We are now giving thought to that aspect and we feel in the very near future we will be able to give a definite reply. It certainly would be a good thing to give a new lease on life to the work in Vienna.

Kissinger: We will study it carefully. I’m not too optimistic, as I told the General Secretary.

Gromyko: So you are not taking away optimism on this?

Kissinger: I’ll have to see your concrete proposal before I make a final judgment.

[Page 990]

Gromyko: All right. As long as you don’t carry away pessimism from Moscow on this question.

Kissinger: I think we should make progress this year on mutual force reductions.

Gromyko: That would be good. China will certainly have a lot to blame us for. If there is success. Mostly us.

Kissinger: China will certainly be very angry. China will certainly be very angry if there is success in SALT.

But they haven’t given us any helicopters lately, so perhaps you should tell us what you are doing.

Gromyko: [Laughs] China gave us a helicopter because it is ours! Of course they recognized they made a mistake.

I was told Dr. Kissinger was staying for a week. Now these people tell me he’s departing.

Kissinger: Always something surprising!

[Both sides review drafts of the communiqué of the visit.]7

I have a minor change. It says: “It was noted that a further strengthening and development of relations between the USSR and USA would serve the interests . . .” I would say “it was agreed” instead of “it was noted.”

Sukhodrev: To make it more readable in Russian, “Both sides are in agreement that,” or “agree that.”

Kissinger: “Both sides are in agreement.” If you say “both sides agreed,” it looks like a new agreement. “Would serve the interests.”

Gromyko: I believe this text is acceptable. Since General Secretary Brezhnev is directly concerned, I’ll just show it to him. I expect no difficulties or problems.

Kissinger: What time do you plan to release it?

Gromyko: At seven o’clock tonight Moscow time.

Kissinger: That’s at five o’clock Brussels time. All right. But when can you confirm it?

Gromyko: Another concession on our part.

Kissinger: It is amazing how you keep your country together, with all these concessions.

Gromyko: Concession after concession!

Kissinger: Everyone says you are so difficult to deal with.

Dobrynin: A total misunderstanding!

[Page 991]

Kissinger: A total misunderstanding. I was afraid before I came that two-or-three days here would not be enough time for us, because of all the concessions you would be making.

[The meeting then ended.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, 1974–1976, Box 1, USSR Memcons and Reports, January 21–23, 1976—Kissinger Moscow Trip (3). Secret; Nodis. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. All brackets are in the original. The meeting was held in the Foreign Ministry’s Tolstoi House.
  2. The reference is in error. Nixon and Brezhnev signed the “Basic Principles” on May 29, 1972.
  3. Document 239.
  4. Gromyko was in Japan January 9–13 for an official visit. For the English text of the joint communiqué, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXVII, No. 2 (February 11, 1976), p. 18.
  5. Sakhalin.
  6. For the text of Kissinger’s toasts on October 19 and 22 in Beijing, see Department of State Bulletin, November 17, 1975, pp. 682–683.
  7. For the final text of the joint communiqué, see ibid., February 16, 1976, p. 165.