4. Letter From President Ford to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev1

Dear Mr. General Secretary:

Upon assuming office as President of the United States, I wanted to be in immediate contact with you to share my views on the importance of continuing along the course of Soviet-American relations that you and President Nixon have charted in your summit meetings, in the agreements that our two governments have reached, and in the general spirit of cooperation we have established. I have naturally participated as Vice President in the discussions prior to the most recent meetings with you in Moscow and discussed the results with both President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger. As you are no doubt aware, I have consistently supported in our Congress the foreign policy of President Nixon throughout his administration. Thus, I can confirm without qualification that American policy toward the Soviet Union will continue unchanged in my administration.

I share the worthy goals that were set forth in the communiqués of the summit meetings in Moscow and in this country, and the approach to our relations that you and President Nixon have elaborated in your private discussions. I firmly believe that in the nuclear age a policy of mutual restraint and of respecting the interests of all is the only course open to responsible statesmen. I am committed to that course. I will also give closest attention to the many negotiations already in progress between our governments or projected for the coming weeks. My administration will continue to approach these negotiations with the utmost seriousness and with determination to achieve concrete and lasting results in the common interest of our two countries as well as the world at large.

I value the intimate and open exchanges that have been carried on in the interim between the summit conferences. I would like to assure you that the channels of communication that have been established remain open at any time.

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I have asked Secretary of State Kissinger to continue in office so as to ensure continuity in the conduct of our foreign policies. He has my full confidence and support.

Finally, Mr. General Secretary, I want to reaffirm the invitation to you to visit this country next year. Please convey my regards to your colleagues, President Podgorny, Premier Kosygin, and Minister Gromyko.2


  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, 1974–1977, Box 16, USSR (1). No classification marking. In telegram 174035 to Moscow, August 9, the Department forwarded the text of Ford’s letter to the Embassy with the instructions: “Please deliver immediately following message from the President to General Secretary Brezhnev. If he is not available, deliver to highest official available.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Presidential Transition, 1974)
  2. Printed from a copy that does not bear Ford’s signature. Stoessel reported in telegram 12279 from Moscow, August 10, that he delivered the message to Andrei Kirilenko at 10:30 a.m., August 10. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy Files) In a memorandum to the President on August 10, Kissinger further reported: “Upon receiving your message (delivered through Brezhnev’s second-in-command in the Politburo who phoned him in the Crimea), the General Secretary underlined that Soviet policy toward the US would remain consistent and unchanging; in addition to conveying congratulations to you, he wished you success in a difficult task and stressed the importance of continuing on the course on which the US and USSR had embarked; formal congratulations will be sent in the next day or so. The significance of this is: the high level attention to the receipt of your message; it is the first time our Ambassador has ever been received at the Central Committee, rather than the government office; moreover, Brezhnev’s response was conveyed through his probable successor, Andrei Kirilenko.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Transition File, 1974, Box 1, Letters to and from World Leaders—Memoranda to the President)