289. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrey Andreyevich Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Ambassador of the USSR
  • Georgiy M. Korniyenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Vasiliy Makarov, Chef de Cabinet to the Foreign Minister
  • Yuly M. Vorontsov, Minister Counselor, Soviet Embassy
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Counsellor, Second European Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Interpreter)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • William G. Hyland, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department of State
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • FRG; Africa; U.S. politics; agrément for Toon; SALT; Middle East; MBFR; Law of the Sea; U.S.-Soviet maritime and civil aviation agreements; Iran
[Page 1057]

[Photos were taken. Then drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served in the living room.]

Kissinger: I can see any other Foreign Minister without White House supervision, but when I see you, I need White House supervision.

Hyland: Right.

Rodman: That’s right.

Dobrynin: The Tunisian Foreign Minister here had $50,000 stolen.

Kissinger: What was he doing with $50,000?

Dobrynin: All together, money and watch and jewelry.

Kissinger: I once gave this room to Bouteflika2 and then I needed it and he would not give it up. He said if I took it back he would go to Harlem. I should have let him do it. He said he’d stay at the Hotel Theresa. Where Castro stayed. [Laughter]

Gromyko: That mirror there.

Kissinger: Do you like this room? I’m in the imperial phase of my incumbency.

Gromyko: We are being dragged into an imperial room.

Kissinger: How is the General Secretary? How is his health?

Gromyko: Very good.

Kissinger: Did he have some vacation?

Gromyko: Yes, in the Crimea.

Kissinger: It’s beautiful there. I remember our visit there with pleasure.

Kissinger: Did you have a lot of rain?

Gromyko: Yes, in some places excessive.

Kissinger: Excessive? Will you sell us some grain? Or only in a five-year agreement?

Gromyko: It is subject to negotiation.

Your corn crop was lower this year.

Kissinger: Yes.

When are you going back?

Gromyko: The morning of the 3rd.

Kissinger: Directly?

Gromyko: No, to Brussels.

Kissinger: For a NATO consultation!

[Page 1058]

Gromyko: I want to see it from the inside! And I will see it from another vantage point, too—Copenhagen.

Sukhodrev: Two nights in Brussels.

Gromyko: On the 6th, I’ll be in Moscow already.

Kissinger: Chiao Kuan-hua3 will be coming on the 3rd. You will just miss him.

They [the Chinese] are giving Schlesinger a tour.4 We are inviting Teng Hsiao-ping here for a tour. [Laughter] I don’t know if they are trying to annoy you or me.

Hyland: He gave a press conference in Japan.

Kissinger: What did he say?

Hyland: That Hua Kuo-feng was firmly established.

Kissinger: How does he know?

Hyland: He talked to him. [Laughter]

Kissinger: Do you have any clear-cut knowledge of what’s going on in China?

Gromyko: No, we don’t.

Kissinger: We’d never talked to this man before. [To Lord:] Did we ever meet him?

Lord: He was at one banquet.

Gromyko: He [Schlesinger] was received by Hua.

Kissinger: Yes.

Dobrynin: It was in The Washington Post today, second page.

Gromyko: You will get fresh news.

Kissinger: Undoubtedly. He was in Tibet.

Dobrynin: He said they were weak militarily.

Kissinger: That’ll go over big in Peking!

Dobrynin: He said their shells will just bounce off Soviet tanks.

Kissinger: You should pay him for the trip.

Joe Kraft told me that but I didn’t think he would say it publicly. He allowed the journalists to sit in on the meetings.

Sonnenfeldt: Ben Wattenberg has been writing in the Post.

Rodman: He is a political scientist.

Sonnenfeldt: He ran Jackson’s campaign.

Kissinger: That isn’t bad for you, to have Schlesinger announce the Chinese have shells that bounce off Soviet tanks. They probably bounce [Page 1059] off American tanks, too. He had a big group. Richard Perle, Luttwak,5 Joe Kraft.

Hyland: Lloyd Shearer.6

Sonnenfeldt: Jerry Schecter. Bing West. He was a Schlesinger assistant.

Kissinger: It is a complicated political system.

Gromyko: Then why do you say it’s the best?

Kissinger: This tremendous creativity. There is this constant surprise of what our ministries will do. The reason why we are so good at foreign policy is our bureaucratic maneuvering is like between sovereign entities.

Gromyko: Did you watch the debate?7

Kissinger: I missed it.

Hyland: You will miss the second one. On foreign policy.

Gromyko: And the third one?

Kissinger: It’s on sex. [Laughter]

Gromyko: A crucial point!

Federal Republic of Germany

Kissinger: I’m assuming you want Schmidt to win.8

Gromyko: There are good chances.

Hartman: It is close.

Kissinger: Genscher thinks they will win by 3–4%.

Sonnenfeldt: It will be very close. They will be the smaller party. The CDU will have the chairmanship of the Bundestag and smaller committees.

Kissinger: What good does that do?

Sonnenfeldt: Prestige.

Gromyko: It is a very complicated political system in Germany.

Kissinger: Yes. If they lose, Brandt may come back. They will move to the left. Are you scared by that—their moving to the left?

Gromyko: Their confidence is growing.

Kissinger: I hope Schmidt will win.

[Page 1060]

Genscher yesterday said they are 3% ahead—which means they don’t know. That’s within the margin of error.

Gromyko: The economic situation is improving.

Kissinger: There is no rationale. The population is moving to the right.

Sonnenfeldt: All northern Europeans are becoming more conservative.

The Secretary’s Trip to Africa

Gromyko: Did you sleep well after your trip to Africa?

Kissinger: I had read my press clippings, and by the time I got Izvestia translated . . . But the change isn’t so great in Africa as in the Middle East.

Gromyko: So the dancing was all right.

Kissinger: I gave a great speech [in Kenya] without translation; it had a great impact.

You’ve never been in Africa?

Gromyko: No. Of course, Egypt is in Africa.

Kissinger: They are a member of the OAU. There is no cultural connection between Algeria, say, and a black state. Nothing in common. Anything south of the Sahara. They have no historical connection either.

Gromyko: Language, culture.

Kissinger: East Africa has had more to do with Europe than with North Africa in the last 200 years.

Gromyko: That’s right. How many countries did you visit now?

Kissinger: Five: Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire, Zambia, South Africa. The last time seven. It is the only place I invariably get sick. There are 49 members of the OAU.

Gromyko: You need one more [to make 50].

Hyland: Namibia will be it.

Kissinger: I am getting nervous. There is no place I can go any more without getting criticized. I can’t go to the Middle East.

Gromyko: It was very mild, just sugar-coated. It was one-fifth of yours.

Kissinger: I read it every day. We have never criticized your trips or any specific figures.

Gromyko: Specific, specific. It was very mild.

Kissinger: When détente reaches a certain point, we should exchange countries every five years, to have the dominant influence in, and take care of their problems, and then switch.

[Page 1061]

Gromyko: Every day I open American newspapers and read your criticisms.

[The group moved to dinner.]

Kissinger: I agree this has not been a good year. Our domestic campaign got out of control. Really. If Reagan had lost in North Carolina in March, it would have taken an entirely different course.

Dobrynin: Couldn’t the Administration have had a different course?

Kissinger: Partly yes.

Dobrynin: That is the point.

Gromyko: When will you know the results in Germany?

Sonnenfeldt: We will know at 3:00 p.m. Sunday.

United States Politics

Kissinger: Anything that happened in foreign policy would actually help the President. Even a disaster.

Sonnenfeldt: We are looking for an incident!

Gromyko: The Secretary is right.

Kissinger: In foreign policy, if we do anything it helps.

But seriously, at a minimum, nothing should be done to upset the situation.

You should know, Mr. Foreign Minister, I’m making my contribution to détente by taking no trips. Domestic trips are all right?

Gromyko: Suppose, Mr. Secretary, you make several speeches on domestic matters. Inflation, agriculture. [Laughter] Steel production. [Laughter] Production of fertilizers. [Laughter] Nothing bad.

Kissinger: If I speak about steel production.

Tomorrow when I speak at the UN,9 can I speak about foreign policy?

In my speech tomorrow, I even say nice things about the Soviet Union.

Gromyko: No country makes such steaks as America. Not Britain, not France.

Kissinger: Japan makes good American steaks.

I raised the wrong subject. [Laughter]

Gromyko: But all speeches on domestic policy.

Kissinger: I’m criticized for always defending the Soviet Union.

[Page 1062]

Gromyko: This kind of criticism results from misunderstanding. [Laughter]

Kissinger: I think you have a point.

Kissinger: One of the interesting points is until Reagan was finally beaten at the Convention, he acted publicly as if he was really confident of winning.

He came very close.

Dobrynin: Who is Carter’s chief foreign policy adviser now?

Sonnenfeldt: Reston today said he’s not consulting any of his foreign policy advisers.

Gromyko: You know, I’ve seen many American movies, but I’ve never seen one with Reagan in it. It’s my fault, I know, but I’ve never seen him.

Kissinger: I had breakfast with the President of Universal Studios in the Spring. I said Reagan will withdraw. He said no. He was his agent, so he knows him. “To be a second-rate actor for 30 years, you have to have a monumental ego. He will never quit.” He was right.

Kissinger: What part of our relationship should we review, Mr. Foreign Minister?

Gromyko: I think we should not waste time so we take number one, then number two. [Laughter]

Kissinger: Let’s do something different—Let’s start with number 4. [Laughter] And we will save number three for the President.

Gromyko: We must be short and specific.

Kissinger: And to the point.

Dobrynin: So now the communiqué is ready. [Laughter]

Kissinger: We settled 1 and 2 and dropped #3. [Laughter]

Gromyko: The Secretary always asks what we say to the press. [Laughter] Now, we know. You see, as a rule we agree.

I think we should take up as the first question, the strategic.

Kissinger: Strategic? All right.

Gromyko: At one time—it coincided with my vacation—I learned Dr. Kissinger was making two or three speeches every day. I wondered whether he had become a candidate.

Kissinger: Did I say something in my speech that annoyed the Soviet leadership? Africa, I suppose.

Gromyko: You have touched many subjects.

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: You have discussed détente.

Kissinger: What is that? [Laughter]

Gromyko: I forgot, it’s not in the American language!

[Page 1063]

Kissinger: In August I gave one speech in Philadelphia.

Sonnenfeldt: And Boston.10

Gromyko: Maybe we should speak a bit about the Middle East, the second.

Kissinger: All right.

Gromyko: And if there is time, maybe I will touch briefly on some others.

Agrément for Toon

Kissinger: I want also to mention agrément for our Ambassador-designate.

Gromyko: Well, we are thinking about it. There are certain formalities. You should be pleased we are being so attentive on these things.

We will give an answer.

Is the Ambassador-designate in the US now, or elsewhere?

Kissinger: He is at his post, in Israel. There were many newspaper stories that he was anti-Soviet. That is ridiculous. We wouldn’t send an anti-Soviet Ambassador.

Gromyko: I’m not raising any questions.

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks

Kissinger: Maybe we should say a few words about SALT.

Gromyko: Good.

Kissinger: I know we owe you an answer. There are many complicated reasons for it. One is the difficulty of coming to clearcut decisions. But let me ask you this question: What is your reason against deferring some of the items—like seabased cruise missiles and Backfire—for later negotiations? Because if we could defer those, we could come to agreement fairly rapidly.

[Dessert is served.]

Is Mrs. Gromyko with you?

Gromyko: Yes, she’s my chief of staff, I told you.

Kissinger: Nancy sends her regards.

Gromyko: Thank you, and my best regards to Nancy.

Kissinger: Thank you.

Gromyko: What is this wine?

Waiter: California.

[Page 1064]

Gromyko: It’s very good. Why don’t they make propaganda for it?

Dobrynin: They do!

Gromyko: We have always emphasized all the important questions should be resolved in a complex, without separating one or two of these important problems from the rest. You will recall which questions were discussed, and there was an exchange of statements about this, about treating them all as a complex. Especially in Geneva.

And we were in agreement. Which, in fact, is the one and only possible method of going about these solutions.

So we don’t think there is any good to come out of separating them. Let us abide by what is agreed. These considerations should reflect in our discussions.

Kissinger: Bill, do you want to say something?

Hyland: The point you made is there is a chance to make major progress on what was agreed at Vladivostok, between the President and the General Secretary. And we should take advantage of this. The remaining issues of cruise missiles and Backfire might be solved after Vladivostok is finished.

The Agreement we proposed in February would not work to the disadvantage of the Soviet Union, but would put substantial limits on American programs.

Gromyko: Are we moving to the other room now?

Kissinger: [rises] I wanted to say a few words.

You and I have been meeting for many years now. As we look back on the years, we can say that on the whole U.S.-Soviet relations have progressed.

You will see in my speech tomorrow, except for some slight retaliations, I’ll call attention to the importance of our relationship, which is important to the peace of the world. We have differences of ideology, and because we are great powers we have differences of national interest. But we have special responsibilities for the peace of the world for reasons that we two countries can appreciate.

It is idle to deny there have been setbacks—some because of our domestic position, some because of what we see as unnecessary Soviet action.

But it is clear that the course on which we embarked in 1971 and 1972 was the correct one. And the future of the world depends on whether our two powers can find and continue a correct relationship.

On the personal level, I want to say I appreciate our working together, and I want to propose a toast to the friendship of our two countries. [Toast]

[Page 1065]

Gromyko: [rises in reply] It is extremely good to deliver two speeches in two days, yesterday in the General Assembly,11 and today at this table. But my consolation is this one will be shorter. [Laughter]

There are many problems that are to be discussed. I am ready to discuss those problems. On many of them, there are some aspects on which there is an understanding at least in principle. On others, there is not. But on those, an exchange of opinion must take place.

But on number 1—I had in mind the subject we just talked about—the impact of this problem is obvious. We believe it must be solved on the basis of the Vladivostok understanding. This is our position. From the beginning, we await your answer to our proposals. Several times it was postponed; I won’t count how many times it was postponed. It was not so simple; it was complicated in this country, for certain circumstances—but you know better than we how to cope with those circumstances.

The problems must be solved. The more important they are, the better the solutions will come from an exchange of views.

I mentioned the Middle East. It is very acute. At the very moment we sit at this table, blood is shed; they are cutting throats. We know what is taking place. We are ready to exchange views.

There are other problems, but I mention just these two.

I mentioned to the Secretary-General that we are ready to find a common base for a solution of the problems which divide us. We are ready, not less ready than before. We would like to see a solution to this. But we are not negotiating with ourselves, but with the United States. Possible results can be achieved only by rapprochement, by both.

So, to the success of this conversation—these conversations—and to the development of relations between our countries. [Toast] [The group moves back into the living room.]

Kissinger: If we could defer some items it would be easier to make progress.

Gromyko: It won’t work to try and separate some of the issues from the others.

That approach is unacceptable. Let’s be brief and to the point. We have many other questions. We cannot accept an agreement that leaves open the bomber and cruise missiles.

Kissinger: Do you think if we would send some technical experts to Geneva and explain the advantages, you would change your mind?

[Page 1066]

Not all cruise missiles, only sea-based.

Gromyko: What will that do? I don’t think it would work. They couldn’t prove anything to us. I am treating that as a joke.

Kissinger: What is your answer to this argument? There are some weapons that are a grey area which can be used strategically but are not necessarily strategic—such as some of our cruise missiles and some of your bombers.

Gromyko: What exactly do you have in mind? If you mean our bomber, an appropriate explanation was given you [in January in Moscow] by the General Secretary. It is you that refer to that bomber and system that can be used strategically, but we rule that out.

Kissinger: I would suggest you discuss this question of deferral with the President. With more substantive arguments. Because I know the substantive arguments. Bill?

Hyland: It would be helpful.

Kissinger: You said you made certain concessions in Geneva as a package.

Gromyko: On an extremely important matter. The matter you said was the “most important.”

Kissinger: On the counting rules.

Gromyko: On the counting matter.

Kissinger: If you could point out the linkage you established then, because some of our people think it’s settled. Between us there is no misunderstanding. I’ve always understood some of the concessions made by the General Secretary were all linked to a satisfactory understanding on other issues.

Hyland: It might be helpful if you went over the January proposals, especially Brezhnev’s proposals.

Kissinger: If you could give a brief summary of where we stood in January, and the linkage, and your position on deferral.

Gromyko: All this consumes some time.

Hyland: We have 90 minutes scheduled, but really it’s two hours.

The Middle East

Kissinger: The Middle East.

Gromyko: The Middle East.

Kissinger: Do I get some credit for staying out of the Middle East for a year? A little item in the Soviet newspaper noting it?

Sonnenfeldt: Sovietskii Sport. [Laughter]

Gromyko: It took a great deal of willpower!

We have noticed the United States seems to be taking a sort of placid attitude in observing the situation in the Middle East, and the [Page 1067] United States is even expressing a certain satisfaction with the course of events there. You may not agree but we feel that it is a mistake, and the situation there is fraught with surprises and unpleasantness and consequences which neither the United States nor the Soviet Union nor the world needs. Notably the Lebanon issue. We had expected the United States to react acutely to that situation, and treat it as acute. How could anyone be placid in a reaction to what has happened there? Hostilities there are continuous.

You used to be mentioning the Geneva Conference and its work. I don’t hear you saying it any more. We believe it would be good to make use of that forum. I don’t know if it’s possible to resume it before the election, but maybe after the election. Maybe one will be ready to make a concession after the election.

We feel it should consider all important questions. Let me review what I see as the important questions.

First, the question of withdrawal of Israeli troops from all Arab territories that were occupied as a result of the 1967 war.

Second, a solution of the Palestinian problem with due regard for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

These are the two questions in which the Arab side is vitally interested. At the same time, there is regard for the questions Israel is interested in.

First, an end to the state of belligerency.

Second, recognition of the right of all states to independent existence and development, and including Israel.

These are the questions we believe should be considered by the Geneva Conference. They are questions knocking on the door and should be given consideration.

They can’t be resolved in just a few days, but it would take time. But these would be political negotiations, and there would be no hostilities [voyenniye dyeistviya]. Whatever hostilities are going on would end.

I don’t see anything here that is unacceptable to Israel. They have said they want recognition by the Arabs and the end of belligerency, and these are things they can get from the Geneva Conference. If there is understanding.

What you and we say would be very weighty at the Conference.

The last question is the composition of the Conference.

Kissinger: I was going to ask.

Gromyko: We proceed from the assumption it would be those at the original Conference as agreed. We believe Syria might take part.

Kissinger: Khaddam has a very beautiful speech prepared, that he wants to give.

[Page 1068]

Gromyko: But there is one new element. Without the Palestinians, it is impossible to discuss the Palestinian issue.

In confirmation of what I’ve just said, and this is an official proposal of the Soviet government, I will give you this proposal in writing, with a working translation in English.

[He hands Secretary Kissinger Tab A.]12

Brief and to the point.

Kissinger: Thank you. I will study this. We will have a chance to discuss it on Friday.13

Let me make an observation. First, Lebanon. I don’t find that the Soviet side is characterized by hyperactivity.

Gromyko: But we are indignant, and you applaud these events.

Kissinger: Where do we applaud?

Gromyko: There have been many statements on your part.

Kissinger: My?

Gromyko: Not you personally, but quite a few, both official and unofficial. The press has been unanimous that things are going quite well in Lebanon.

Kissinger: The press is not very perceptive, as proven by their constant criticism of me.

Gromyko: That really doesn’t sound too convincing—the attitude the press takes toward you.

Kissinger: Not the Soviet press, but the American press. [Laughter]

Gromyko: I mean the American press.

Kissinger: We can’t be responsible for our press, but we consider what is happening in Lebanon a tragedy—much of which is caused by your friends with your equipment. On both sides. There is no American equipment in Lebanon. We regret it; we are prepared to cooperate diplomatically. You wouldn’t want us to do anything physically.

I simply want to say there is no benefit for the United States in what is going on in Lebanon. And we would be prepared to cooperate as we have done to bring it to an end.

You know rivalry between Syria and Egypt, and Iraq and Libya. It is out of our control. We have concentrated on keeping the Israelis out.

You keep referring to an end of the state of war for Israel. I have always understood that for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all Arab territory, what the Israelis would ask—in addition to the Amer[Page 1069]ican Treasury—is a state of peace, not an end of the state of war. Do you make the distinction?

Gromyko: No. We would be in agreement with both. I agree legalistically there is a difference between the two terms; a certain difference could be found. But we believe there should be a treaty ending the state of belligerency and establishing peace. Both. Because we understood Israel wanted both recognition by the Arabs and an end of the state of war. We would be prepared to formalize both the end of belligerency and the establishment of peace. That is our answer to your question.

We believe the Arabs too could accept that, although that is not an easy task at all. You know what position the Iraqis take, and the Palestinians too—it is not an easy subject. And Libya. So it is not a simple question.

But we believe that in the process of negotiations there is hope that all these could be considered in a complex and resolved in a fair and just manner.

But if all are left unresolved, the area will look like a ship with no steering gear, dragged by the waves toward a reef. Today someone’s blood is shed; tomorrow someone else’s. One doesn’t know. It is a voyage to nowhere.

And let me just add, these proposals we are going to transmit to all others in the Geneva Conference.

Kissinger: These here [in Tab A]?

Gromyko: Yes. We have given them to you first. We will probably give them to the Israelis here through their representative in New York. Do you have any objection?

Kissinger: No, it is one of the countries we wanted to give you for five years.

You can’t afford Cuba and Israel at the same time. [Laughter]

Another thing. You said the Palestinians have to be present to discuss Palestine.

Gromyko: Yes.

Kissinger: Can I conclude from this that they don’t have to be present for discussion of non-Palestinian issues?

Gromyko: We don’t know the Palestinian view on this. They might feel they have to take part in that or all, because all issues are a function of the Palestinian issue.

Our position is that they must be present to discuss all issues.

Kissinger: I thought there might be a potential . . .

Gromyko: We do not distinguish.

If there is any idea, you would have to contact the Palestinians.

Kissinger: Not this month.

[Page 1070]

Sonnenfeldt: Or next month. It’s still September!

Kissinger: We are prepared to reassemble the Geneva Conference. We have said so many times. We don’t say so every week because all the actors are preoccupied with Lebanon and can’t go to Geneva. Maybe that will be settled in the next weeks.

The problem with the composition is, as I have said: if it is confined to the original group, it can be done. If the Palestinians must be there, it is a massive problem. It would play into the hands of those who want a delay. But I don’t see why they have to be there to discuss borders, which don’t concern them.

Gromyko: But we believe that task could be fulfilled and the problem resolved by approaching it from the other end. Let us say the Conference convenes with all its original participants plus the Palestinians, and it dissolves into committees. One committee could concern itself with borders between Syria and Israel; another could take the Egyptian angle; another could take the Palestinian issue; another with Jordan; another if needed with Lebanon.

That is a way to cope with it. I don’t pretend to enumerate all possible variations.

Whatever the committees work out, the proposals could be submitted to the Conference as a whole. There is bound to be one dealing specifically with Palestinian issue. All these proposals will then have to be fused into one single document and the correlations established and fused into one document.

It is hard to contemplate that this—fusing into a document—could be carried out without the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are one of the elements. So we believe it can be solved from the other end.

Kissinger: Mr. Foreign Minister, we are not saying the Palestinians should be excluded. We are saying that to assemble a Conference including them on the first day will produce endless delay.

But there are a number of ideas here—the composition divided in groups.

Gromyko: It is a flexible formula.

Kissinger: That’s right. That is something I would like to think about.

Gromyko: And we and you would participate.

Kissinger: I assumed that.

We might let you be alone on the Lebanon committee. Since we are not familiar with the equipment there.

Gromyko: There is some Soviet equipment in Israel. What do you say about that?

Kissinger: I’d say there is collusion between the Soviet Union and Israel.

[Page 1071]

If we could do something to start the work of the Conference, perhaps in groups, so that we don’t have to make a decision to include them—or exclude them—this might be possible.

Gromyko: At what point and how long would they be absent?

Kissinger: Enough to get the Conference started. Because otherwise we get into issues like terrorism, etc.

Gromyko: I don’t know the Palestinian view. Suppose an establishing meeting is to decide the agenda, the agenda alone.

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: There are these two points in favor of the Arabs and two points in favor of the Israelis. Suppose the original participants get together on this.

Kissinger: That would have merit.

Gromyko: I’m just thinking aloud. Then the work starts, with commissions, and the Palestinians are present. The Palestinians might not accept this.

This could break the dead end.

But there is a dead end if the organizational question should block the process of the substance.

Kissinger: We are quite determined to start the process after the elections.

Gromyko: I’m just thinking aloud.

Kissinger: We won’t contact the PLO.

Gromyko: You have no contact?

Kissinger: Security contact in Beirut, but no substantive contact.

This is something I want to explore. It has possibilities. I realize it is thinking out loud.

Gromyko: Just the last idea, on starting the Conference.

Kissinger: I realize it. But we can come back to it in exchanges.

Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions

Kissinger: What is topic 3?

Gromyko: Vienna.

We did not receive a reaction to our latest proposals.

Kissinger: Not to your proposals but to your giving the numbers.

Gromyko: You [We?] suspect probably the United States is holding it. Maybe your brotherly ministry.

Kissinger: Sometimes we have problems relating to brother ministries, sometimes problems regarding allies.

We have two problems. One is our figures with respect to your forces differ from your figures on your forces. We have to at some point discuss what is included.

[Page 1072]

The second problem is France refuses to be included in the numbers. We are looking for a way to exclude France but still give you a meaningful number.

The numbers we have aren’t significantly different from what we had in 1974, so you can use those. Your intelligence can tell you.

The basic problem is the French. We can give you a figure that leaves out France but allows you to compensate for French forces so we can’t use French forces to evade the overall obligation.

Gromyko: When can we get an answer?

Hyland: October. It would be helpful if we could discuss theirs.

Kissinger: Could we begin discussing the basis of your figures?

Korniyenko: Not before your figures.

Kissinger: That’s what I thought.

Hyland: Our figures haven’t changed much.

Sonnenfeldt: We are using different criteria to make the count.

Kissinger: The problem the Foreign Minister is making is they won’t discuss their criteria until they get our figures. Korniyenko’s pithy remark.

Sonnenfeldt: I understand.

Kissinger: We will give you the figures during October.

Gromyko: All right. All right.

Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Non-Resort to Force

Gromyko: Non-proliferation.

We understand your concern with respect to certain things that have been happening. We know you had discussions with the French Government, regarding Pakistan. In general, there is some concern lest certain channels appear which could be harmful to that [Non-Proliferation] Treaty. We mentioned this in our speech yesterday. I’m not offering any specific proposals right now. But the question is important. We have to know whether all channels have been blocked to these weapons getting in the hands of states that could menace the world. We don’t know what is in your speech. We know your approach.

Kissinger: My speech will discuss it only in general terms because our President will make a statement . . . When?

Hyland: Soon. The next 48 hours. A written statement, not a speech.14

[Page 1073]

Kissinger: He will make a series of concrete proposals of how to proceed. But in addition, we are prepared to discuss it with you on a bilateral basis.

Gromyko: Good.

Kissinger: The President’s statement will deal with a lot of technical matters, such as enrichment and reprocessing. We would be grateful for your ideas because we would like to block these channels.

Lord: We should have some warning [of the President’s statement].

Hyland: There will have to be some consultations.

Kissinger: It will be within a week. We can give you a summary before it is given. But it will be a complicated document and won’t lend itself to exchanges. But we can use it as a point of departure. Between Anatoly and me, or in Moscow.

Gromyko: We will be ready.

Hyland: It could be discussed Friday when the Foreign Minister comes to the White House.

Kissinger: Not usefully. We can discuss the importance of the subject. What is needed is practical steps.

Gromyko: We will be ready.

Kissinger: We will be ready when the statement is issued.

Gromyko: You are familiar with the proposals we made yesterday? On nonresort to military force.15

Kissinger: We will discuss it on Friday. I’ve glanced through it, but I haven’t had a chance . . .

Gromyko: When you’re ready, we can exchange views. Either before my departure, or between our delegations in New York. All right?

Kissinger: All right.

Law of the Sea

Gromyko: Next, what possible conclusion do you foresee in the Conference on Ocean problems?16

Kissinger: If it doesn’t conclude next year, we will have to proceed unilaterally on deep sea beds. We and you I don’t think are very far apart, except you want an anti-monopoly provision. This comes with bad grace from you. But this isn’t an insuperable obstacle if it’s not too restrictive. We can discuss it.

But we can’t accept a total internationalization of seabed mining. It means that countries that have the capability to mine will turn it all over to countries that have no capability to mine.

[Page 1074]

Gromyko: We regret that the Conference has not yet reached agreed decisions on these matters, and we have been somewhat surprised by the position taken by the United States. The United States has taken steps so the Conference has to work under the threat of unilateral action, and you mentioned it yourself, that unless there is a solution by next year, you would act unilaterally on certain aspects. We can’t consider that a positive attitude and consider it negative.

We agree it would be good if our two countries could find common language, because the others would undoubtedly take heed.

Kissinger: Especially the Chinese. But we’re not opposed to finding a common language.

Gromyko: You say our views aren’t too far apart on seabed mining. But there is one significant difference between us.

Do you think we two should have bilateral discussions before the Conference ends?

Kissinger: Absolutely.

Gromyko: But there have been cases where our two sides reached agreement on things and nothing happened. So there should be working discussions.

Kissinger: The Conference will not be concluded without contacts between key countries. The Conference never ends because the delegations, first, have no authority, and second, they become so enamored of the fine points they never can solve it. I instructed our delegation to consult with yours, but usually it’s too late.

Gromyko: You’re right.

Kissinger: I would welcome discussions on this.

Sonnenfeldt: We’ve had people going to Moscow.

Kissinger: But frankly I want to reorganize how we go about this. It is senseless to have our technicians go to Moscow and talk to your technicians and repeat what they do here. It has to be at some political level. With the help of technicians.

We’re prepared to have discussions in Moscow or Washington. Win, when will we be ready?

Lord: In a few weeks.

Kissinger: [to Gromyko] By November 1.

Gromyko: That’s acceptable.

Kissinger: We attach importance to it.

We have a legislative problem.

Gromyko: It didn’t come from the skies.

Kissinger: It didn’t come from the Administration.

Gromyko: For us, it’s the American side. Good.

[Page 1075]

Kissinger: There may be a two-week delay if our position isn’t ready.

Lord: The Conference begins in May.

Kissinger: But I really think we don’t have that many differences with the Soviet Union. We attach importance to it. Hal?

Gromyko: They used to say: “All roads lead to Rome.” Now all roads lead to . . .

Kissinger: . . . to Sonnenfeldt. I don’t know who will do it. We’ll aim for November 1 to start consultations.

US-Soviet Maritime and Civil Aviation Agreements

Gromyko: There have been certain difficulties with implementation of our maritime agreement,17 and we have the impression your side is putting unfair claims on us. But the two sides are about to begin talks on these matters. We hope your side will give the right kind of instructions. They haven’t been getting the right kind of instructions, it seems.

Kissinger: You don’t know our representatives!

Sonnenfeldt: We don’t know our representatives.

Kissinger: If I’m here after November 2, they will know me.

Gromyko: We would like you to look into this matter so we can find some solution to this.

Kissinger: All right. Bill [Hyland], can you give me something tomorrow night when I get back?

Gromyko: There is a rather analogous question in another field, for example, our agreement on civil aviation. Here too your side is putting forth desires for which we don’t think there are any grounds. In a word, here too, the agreement isn’t working too smoothly.

Dobrynin: It’s even working toward curtailment of our air traffic.

Gromyko: So, Mr. Secretary of State, I hope you can take a fresh look at this matter.

Hartman: It’s a question of whether they will sell a few tickets on Pan Am once in a while.

Dobrynin: We should share the capacity and share the profits.

Kissinger: What reason do our companies give?

Hartman: None.

Gromyko: It’s like highway robbery!

Dobrynin: The companies agreed upon it, Pan Am agreed, but your Federal Aviation Administration didn’t agree.

[Page 1076]

Kissinger: Why?

Sonnenfeldt: Because they need the capacity to be profitable.

Dobrynin: But they agreed.

Sonnenfeldt: They’re regulated by a regulatory agency over which we have no control.

Kissinger: I don’t know enough about it. Art [Hartman], will you give me a paper on it?


Gromyko: Then Iran. There is one substantive problem.

Kissinger: I noticed the reference in your speech. I thought you meant India.

Gromyko: Your reference to my speech is correct.

I would like to say that however you assess your actions regarding Iran, it’s a matter of policy, and there is nothing commercial about these actions. What reason is there to supply arms to Iran in the amount of billions, billions of dollars? So far it’s $10 billion and the plan is twice that. Why do you want to cause tensions on the southern border of the Soviet Union? If you’re prompted by certain of your agencies, it’s not in the interests of peace or of a tranquil situation in that part of the world.

This isn’t in accordance with the words you use, or President Ford, or you at the table, on the need to find common language.

We have been observing your actions in Iran for some time. We thought your concern for US-Soviet relations would gain the upper hand. But it goes on. You know and we know and the leadership of Iran knows there is no security interest for Iran in this. But this line continues. I say this because it’s the line taken by our entire leadership, and the view personally of General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev.

Kissinger: First, at no conceivable level of armaments can Iran threaten the Soviet Union. The idea that Iran can want to cause tensions with the Soviet Union is inconceivable. And it has other neighbors than the Soviet Union who are armed by the Soviet Union. Iraq per capita is more heavily armed than Iran; India is armed by the Soviet Union. The idea that they (Iran) would take offensive action against the Soviet Union is beyond my imagination. Nor do they have weapons capable of taking offensive action. The Soviet Union is not its security problem but these others are. It lives in a world in which its neighbors are heavily armed; that’s its security problem.

Gromyko: We are raising this matter not because we are scared of Iran or of weapons placed in Iran’s hands, but because there are no reasonable grounds—and we have said this to the Shah many times—for such a huge arsenal. Who is threatening Iran? Not the Soviet Union; the [Page 1077] Shah knows. Iraq? But those two countries just signed an agreement.18 There is no threat from Pakistan; there are good relations. Is the threat coming from the seabed or outer space? No. If you take a cool-headed analysis, it is clear there are no grounds for it. Why this piling up of arms on the border of the Soviet Union?

If you were in the same position, you would react the same way. It’s not a matter of pure commerce—because they’re buying American arms. It’s a matter of policy. The major powers should not allow this, because in one part of the world we may stamp out the flames of war and tension would be generated in other parts.

So I wanted to call your attention to it, and President Ford’s attention, and the US Government.

Kissinger: We will note it. But I can’t accept that just signing an agreement means there can be no tension. And India is so heavily armed that it may even overcome the scruples which are so inseparable from Indian morality. Iran lives in a complicated environment.

But I’ll take note of it.

Gromyko: Shall we end on that?

Kissinger: What shall we say to the press?

Gromyko: First, we discussed international and bilateral questions. Second, among the problems under discussion are those raised in this session of the General Assembly, which is natural when the session is going on.

Third, it was agreed that on those problems which are not completed, negotiations will be continued. Among them, if you don’t mind, we might mention the possibility of concluding a new agreement on the limitation of strategic arms on the basis of the Vladivostok accord.

Kissinger: That’s fine. Should we mention that we discussed the Middle East? Africa?

Gromyko: Africa, maybe next time.

Sonnenfeldt: Can we confirm it if we’re asked?

Kissinger: I’d say we had a general review of the world situation, including the situation in the Middle East.

Gromyko: All right, you may mention it if you like. How can we separate that from strategic?

Sonnenfeldt: Mention it at the beginning under international issues.

Kissinger: Where did we mention consultations? Non-proliferation and Law of the Sea. We won’t say this to the press.

[Page 1078]

Sonnenfeldt: A private agreement among ourselves.

Gromyko: Private, private.

Kissinger: They will ask what questions are being discussed by the General Assembly.

Hyland: The Soviet proposal on nonuse of military force.

Gromyko: The general formula, without particulars.

Kissinger: Yes.

[The conversation ended. The Secretary accompanied the Foreign Minister to the elevator.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 7, Soviet Union, May–Sept. 1976. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rodman. All brackets are in the original. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s Suite (35A) in the Waldorf Towers.
  2. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs and former President of the UN General Assembly.
  3. Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  4. During his extended visit to China, Schlesinger met with Premier Hua Guofeng on September 28.
  5. Edward N. Luttwak, military strategist and defense consultant, was visiting Professor in Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.
  6. Lloyd Shearer, columnist for Parade magazine.
  7. Ford and Carter met in the first of three televised Presidential debates on September 23 in Philadelphia.
  8. The West German Federal election was scheduled for October 3.
  9. For the text of Kissinger’s speech before the UN General Assembly on September 30, see Department of State Bulletin, October 25, 1976, pp. 497–510.
  10. Kissinger spoke before the Urban League in Boston on August 2, and on August 31, he addressed a meeting of the Opportunities Industrialization Center in Philadelphia; see Department of State Bulletin, September 20, 1976, pp. 358–362.
  11. For press accounts of Gromyko’s speech, see Peter Grose, “U.N. Gets Two Plans to Cut Use of Force,” The New York Times, September 29, 1976, p. 9; and “Soviets Rap U.S. Move on Africa,” The Washington Post, September 29, 1976, p. A2.
  12. Attached but not printed.
  13. October 1.
  14. For the text of the President’s statement on nuclear policy, released on October 28, see Public Papers: Ford, 1976, No. 987.
  15. On September 28, the Soviet Union submitted to the UN Secretary General a draft treaty on the non-use of force in international relations.
  16. The summer session of the Third UN Law of the Sea Conference (UNCLOS III) ended in mid-September. The next session was scheduled to begin in May 1977.
  17. See Document 293.
  18. Reference is presumably to the June 1975 Algiers Accord, which was the basis for bilateral Iran–Iraq agreements on border issues.