3. Letter From Secretary of State Kissinger to Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko1

Dear Mr. Minister:

I am taking advantage of the close personal relationship we have enjoyed to send you a private message to explain certain points with utmost frankness. You are free, of course, to share them with the General Secretary who will receive a communication from our new President.

Regardless of what you may hear or read in the next few weeks, I can assure you personally that President Ford intends to continue and [Page 6] develop further the policies that have guided our relations with the USSR under President Nixon. He has asked me to remain in office, and to devote special attention to Soviet affairs. He will be a strong President, and you will see that he will take command immediately and assert his authority and responsibility over foreign affairs. You may rely on his assurances, and the approach to the issues we discussed in Moscow and since my return will be carried through.

You will realize from your long acquaintance with this country, that the coming period will be one in which the President will be engaged in a review of our position in many areas and on many issues—but this will not affect Soviet-American relations.

Thus, I will probably return to Moscow this fall as we discussed if the President’s schedule permits me to be away. In any case, we expect to meet you should you come to the UN General Assembly this year.

Let me make one further point, and I do so in the spirit of candor that had characterized our many discussions.

The change in the Presidency will not end the criticism that our policy toward the Soviet Union has been subjected to over this past year. I will soon make a major speech on this subject, which will commit the new Administration to the process of improving Soviet-American relations.2 But I hope that in Moscow the most serious thought will be given to the substantive issues facing us—in CSCE, MBFR and SALT—so that there will be no loss of momentum when these negotiations resume.

It will be of more importance now, in the new circumstances, to demonstrate that what we have achieved is in fact a solid foundation for the future.

Warm regards,

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, 1974–1977, Box 16, USSR (1). No classification marking. According to a handwritten note on the first page, the letter was “handed to Min. Vorontsov 8/9/74—3:15 p.m. by HAK.” Sonnenfeldt forwarded a draft of the letter to Kissinger on August 8 with the following typed note: “Attached is the letter to Gromyko which you may want to hand to Vorontsov or let Stoessel deliver. In any case, you should look it over, because I have given it a slightly different twist at the end.” Kissinger approved the draft without revision. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Presidential Transition, 1974)
  2. Kissinger addressed the national convention of the American Legion on August 20 in Miami. For the text of his speech, see Department of State Bulletin, September 16, 1974, pp. 373–378.