64. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Leonid Il’ich Brezhnev, General Secretary and Member of the Politburo, CPSU Central Committee
  • Andrey A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Member CPSU Politburo
  • Anatoly Dobrynin, USSR Ambassador to the United States
  • Andrey M. Aleksandrov-Agentov, Aide to General Secretary Brezhnev
  • Georgiy M. Korniyenko; Chief, USA Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Oleg Sokolov, USA Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Second European Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Interpreter)
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to USSR
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department, Department of State
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, Department of State
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff, Department of State
  • William G. Hyland, Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State
  • A. Denis Clift, Senior Staff Member, National Security Council


  • Secretary Kissinger’s Visit to USSR, October 1974

Introductory Remarks

Kissinger: (Shaking Brezhnev’s hand) You’re looking well.

Brezhnev: I keep getting younger. You know, when you get as old as I am, it becomes natural. I see that you have placed Ambassador Stoessel to your left (seated at table).

Kissinger: That’s true.

Brezhnev: You know, we would never criticize your Ambassador. He is highly respected.

Kissinger: We’re seated this way because I am to the left of Sonnenfeldt.

Brezhnev: Ah, everyone in a position of advantage.

[Page 177]

Kissinger: I’ve told the Ambassador that he is the first one whom we tell everything.

Brezhnev: How does he know? We tell him everything.

Gromyko: We tell him everything until there is no more to tell him.

Kissinger: That I’m sure of.

Brezhnev: How is Mrs. Kissinger?

Kissinger: She is fine, and she very much appreciates your hospitality.

Brezhnev: The first thing that came to my mind when I got up and looked out the window this morning was that the weather is so bad. I thought: This will spoil Mrs. Kissinger’s sightseeing. The second thought was a pleasant one: This time, too, Dr. Kissinger won’t get to Leningrad (laughter).

Kissinger: At least I will know now that Leningrad exists. But this will make me even unhappier.

Brezhnev: Maybe on your next visit I’ll take your wife around Moscow, and you’ll go to Leningrad.

Kissinger: You will negotiate with my wife?

Brezhnev: I am sure she would be easier to negotiate with than you are.

Kissinger: I saw what you told Secretary Simon about me.2

Brezhnev: That was a good discussion; I liked him.

Kissinger: Yes, he’s a nice man, but you told him I don’t make concessions.

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, you are starting out our conversation by saying what isn’t true! I did say what I thought of you to Secretary Simon and Mr. Kendall . . .

Kissinger: I know, it was very friendly.

Brezhnev: To both I said very positive things.

Kissinger: I appreciated it.

Brezhnev: It’s no secret. I said what I did in the hope that it would be brought to the attention of your President. I am sure Secretary Simon and Mr. Kendall will bring it to his attention.

Kissinger: Your views were reported to the President, and I appreciated it very much.

Brezhnev: That makes me very pleased.

[Page 178]

Kissinger: I was touched personally.

Brezhnev: You know, it wasn’t said as a deliberate or pointed remark. The subject came up naturally.

Kissinger: I appreciated it very much, and they did report your remarks to the President.

General Review of Bilateral and International Issues

Brezhnev: We are today beginning our eighth meeting. May I first voice my satisfaction at this fact. Let me again say from the outset that, as in our other meetings, we have a very responsible mission—that is, to agree on various matters relating to further improvement in the relations between our countries in all fields.

I am deeply conscious of the great trust invested in me by our Central Committee and our Government in that I have been authorized to conduct these complex, difficult discussions with you. Our discussions have steadfastly served to advance relations between our countries. I trust you will appreciate that it is my intention to make every effort in that direction.

Of course, negotiations are negotiations. Each side is equally free, as in the past, to set out our points of view. The important thing is the results in negotiations. In the course of our talks there can be arguments and disputes. On the whole, our talks since 1972 have played a positive role—and continue to have such a role—in improving our relations. I would say in brief that, on the whole, relations between our two countries have developed in the spirit of the accords negotiated in the past few years.

Since our last meeting, there have been quite a few important events both in the United States and, indeed, in the world. I would like to start out by saying a few words on this. Then we can move on to easy subjects such as warheads and missiles and other bilateral matters.

Kissinger: The General Secretary taught me much about warheads during our meetings in March.3

Brezhnev: You know, I think I’ll tell you something about them that you don’t know this time, again. In fact, some of these things I have learned from your experts.

Kissinger: I’m glad they’re telling someone.

Brezhnev: I have nothing but words of gratitude for them. Well, what I would like to say first is that from our very first meeting and until today, I believe that the U.S. side has no grounds to reproach us [Page 179] for any lacking in good faith to fulfill our obligations. And, this is something I relate not only to our agreements but also to our general line of policy and the official statements made both by myself and my colleagues. We have never made any statements in any way interfering in internal U.S. affairs. Even when there have been some complicated events, we have never exploited them.

Kissinger: I wish I could say that the same was true on our side.

Brezhnev: For the time being, I have no reproaches to make, but if you are patient we will come to all of that in good time.

I wish to stress that in all of our official statements, our public statements, I have had several opportunities to emphasize to our Party and to our Government to follow the line of seeking improvements with the United States in all fields.

Naturally, this cannot involve such things as matters of ideology, but, in that line, we have even made references to and cited Lenin in discussing USUSSR relations. I emphasized this principle in my speeches to the German Democratic Republic, Alma Ata and Kishiniev, and in other statements I have made in the past period. I also emphasized this point in my remarks to the USUSSR Trade and Economic Council. Our aim is the achieving of a steadfast improvement in relations. This is something you can see in our public statements and in our press, although the press does criticize certain aspects of your policy. Of course there have been on our part certain critical remarks, not on domestic matters but on questions of international policy.

Every time I have met with you I have understood our meetings to mean that I am meeting with the official representative of the United States Government—whether you were in the position you held or in the position you now hold. I saw our meetings as discussions between two States.

Most Favored Nation Treatment

Brezhnev: And now, Dr. Kissinger, I would like to turn to certain matters, features to which our attention cannot fail to be attracted.

Now I do not know wherein lie the reasons for the United States’ failing to live up to its obligations and agreed positions. I don’t know how you will explain this, but I would like to say we have been concerned and we have been put on our guard by several factors. While we have followed the course of improved relations, the United States has taken actions not following that line.

I would like to start by mentioning the first fact, a fact on which we had agreement between the two sides. Proceeding from a reciprocal desire to improve relations between our two countries in all spheres and from the principle of equality between the two sides, we reached agreement sometime ago that the Soviet Union was to be accorded Most Fa[Page 180]vored Nation treatment. And, in return, we agreed to repay the Lend-Lease debts.4 Everything was agreed and crystal clear two and one-half years ago. Yet we do not see any part of that agreement fulfilled. Several days ago, I read that the United States had decided to accord MFN to several countries including China. But, regarding the Soviet Union, MFN would be accorded only as a special favor and only for 18 months. Let me say frankly that we cannot accept that “gift” (hits table with hand). We see it as a discriminatory practice that we cannot agree to. I wish to emphasize that!

Middle East

Brezhnev: That is the first question. Now, there is another fundamental issue that I also wish to mention. You will recall . . .

Kissinger: (As Sukhodrev begins translation) I’ve already got the interpretation, and I don’t want to hear it.

Brezhnev: Sonnenfeldt, don’t divert his attention. You will recall Dr. Kissinger the conversation we had at San Clemente on the Middle East5—not the details, just the gist. At that time, maybe I was tactless in being as insistent as I was—as the guest—but I felt I had to stress the dangers of the situation. I said that there could be no peace in the Middle East without a genuine settlement of the problem. Now, as a politician I suppose I should have been happy to receive subsequent confirmation from your side that I was right. But, that didn’t make a settlement any easier.

We felt that through the United Nations framework that had been developed, we had achieved an understanding on an approach that could settle the Middle East problem with due respect for the legitimate rights of all states in the region, including the rights of Israel.

The situation took a different turn. You began your travels. You played upon countries to disunite them. I believe you have now convinced yourself that nothing will come from such attempts. Your side violated an understanding on an agreement in that region.

Grain Sales

Brezhnev: Now, turning to a third fact—one that is virtually unprecedented—that of our purchases of grain in the United States. We [Page 181] had signed contracts when your President announced that he was nullifying the contracts.6 This is difficult to conceive of, but even more so when both sides want improved relations. Even then we gave a positive reply. We displayed patience; we pretended it was unimportant. We proceeded from the desire not to complicate the situation for the President but to help him.

Facilitation of Business

Brezhnev: Finally, we are doing our best to assist U.S. businessmen in the Soviet Union. We are allowing them to make the visits they want, to meet the people they want, and we are facilitating the signing of contracts. Much has been done. We have a trade turnover of some $1 billion. But, we have noticed of late that our business representatives, who used to be accorded cordial treatment in the United States, have not been allowed to visit open engineering plants—plants that have nothing to do with war production. All of this cannot help but influence our thinking about the direction that U.S. policy is taking toward the Soviet Union.

Soviet Emigration/Soviet Jewry

Brezhnev: And now, a few other matters. I am not alone in observing the progress that has occurred in USUSSR relations. Our Party and our people follow these events. (Brezhnev puts on glasses and reads document). Here we have an exchange of letters between Senator Jackson and you.7 These letters are written in clever diplomatic terms, but the undertones are that the Soviet Union has given an undertaking concerning the departure from the USSR of Soviet citizens of Jewish origin—a figure of 60,000! You know that the Soviet Union has not given an obligation in terms of numbers. We have said we would not erect barriers; we are not. (Brezhnev reads document, then holds it up to Secretary Kissinger across table.) I have official proof on this from our Minister of Internal Affairs. This is as of this October. Even if I were to allow all who want to to leave, I see that only 14,000 want to go. This document also says that there are 1,815 applications pending. Even if I add those figures, I still get 15,000 whereas Jackson cites 60,000. Where am I to get those applicants? I will have a copy of this given to you8—the latest official figures regarding emigration. The import of this is that Jackson has won a great victory over the White House and that he has managed to extract certain concessions from the Soviet Union.

Now, I want to return for a moment to the MFN question.

[Page 182]

Kissinger: (As Sukhodrev begins translation) What burns me up is that a lot of what the General Secretary has said is true.

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, you must know me well now after eight meetings. I never take things out of thin air; what I have said has substantial grounds. And also, what I have said makes me think that the United States is not doing all it can to improve relations. We do see difficulties of a domestic character on the U.S. side. That is why we disregard minor issues. However, there are some issues which by their nature affect relations between states. This is an occasion when one state talks to another state.

Returning to MFN, there are some groups and individuals in the United States who pretend that we are begging for MFN as some kind of special concession that we can’t get by without. Of course, we can both note the increase in trade that has been of benefit for both sides—an increase of $1 billion with contracts for several billion dollars signed. It is very doubtful that a U.S. businessman would sign a contract that is not to his advantage. I would go on to say that we have broad, long-term economic relations with the Europeans and with Japan. With them we have dozens more contracts than with the United States. This is a factor to be taken into account. I would emphasize the interests of the United States and of U.S. businessmen in business relations with the USSR.

Returning to the Middle East, the method you have chosen can only in the final analysis confuse matters, cause them to be more complicated than they were before the October war. At one stage what you were doing seemed not too bad. But now when you analyze Arab interests, you have to conclude that there can be a new flare-up, worse than October. We believe that only through the understanding we reached earlier can we bring our influence to bear and work to bring peace. In the past, this proved true in Vietnam. The situation there is still complicated, but there is no war. I could show you official documents from the Vietnamese saying that they won’t violate the Paris Accords. If we did it in Vietnam, we can do it in the Middle East.


Brezhnev: One last matter affecting us is that of the All European Conference. If you have any reproaches regarding our position I’m sure you will make them. There are no hidden dangers in the USSR position, no one-sided advantages. The Conference must serve the interests of all the participants. But, how is the United States acting?

I don’t want to criticize your President. But, in practice, we don’t feel that at Geneva the United States is acting vigorously with the Soviet Union to bring the Conference to a successful conclusion. I am sure that if the United States and the President wanted to act, agreement [Page 183] would be achieved rapidly. The United States and Soviet Union would not be showing hegemony, but would be safeguarding peace in Europe. If the United States took a stand, your friends would act. Now we have new delays, another interval. Then they will say it is too cold, then too hot. It is being dragged out. We feel the United States is far too passive. In words, the United States says it wants to act. At the conference, the United States sits in silence. France takes one position. The FRG has its position. We think the United States should take a resolute position. The Netherlands, Turkey and others are dragging it out. But, when questions regarding our territory to the Urals are raised, then European Security is really not the subject.

Please excuse me for discussing these questions and leaving easy matters such as nuclear issues, but all that I have raised here has an important bearing on confidence between the two countries. It has not all been negative. Some of your statements we have valued. Your statement to the Congress9 and your statements to newsmen, those we have valued highly indeed.

Dr. Kissinger, I must ask your forgiveness for starting out with all these questions. I got carried away. I forgot to ask you to give our very best regards and respects to the President and to express my appreciation for the fact that in the first day of his Administration he sent me a message expressing his desire to continue the improvement in our relations. I sent him a reply at the time of Foreign Minister Gromyko’s visit to the United States.10 Please put these remarks at the first place in our conversation.

Kissinger: I thought the General Secretary was going to say that after these introductory remarks he would move into substance.

Brezhnev: We can do that after lunch.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, first of all . . .

Brezhnev: Really, Dr. Kissinger, there have been some major events. Every month there have been new events that we cannot disregard. And, I do not regard as ordinary, run-of-the-mill events what has happened inside the United States. Whether we want it to or not, all of this affects our relations. These problems depend on the position each side takes.

I have no need to describe the events in this country. Things are very normal. We regularly publish figures regarding our economic affairs. We are now developing final figures for the fifth Five Year Plan for 1975. We have discussed this plan and had a meeting of the Council [Page 184] of Ministers which I attended and addressed. In some fields there are, perhaps, certain hitches. Everyone wants to be allocated as much money as possible. Some have overfulfilled the plan, and, of course, we don’t punish them for that. At the close of the Five Year Plan, we will have a Party Congress, at the end of 1975 or in 1976—we haven’t decided. During our Congresses we review not only foreign policy but also domestic affairs.

In short, if I were graphically to portray the basic trends—and Ambassador Stoessel can bear me out—the line would be an upward one. We would prefer an even steeper upward line, but the trend of the line will without question be upward. And, as we develop economically, we are broadening and expanding our economic and commercial relations with a number of nations.

On October 15, it was ten years since I was vested with the great trust of our Party and became the head of the Central Committee of the Party. I received thousands of congratulatory letters and messages, but that is not what I wish to emphasize. And, in this 10 years—a little more than 10 years—we have had no rise in retail prices in such staples as bread, butter, sugar, rice and other staples. Not by one Kopek has there been any rise in rent, and this is something we take pride in. I say this not in any way to contrast the situation in this country with other facts . . .

Kissinger: There has not been one cent of increase in my salary during the same period.

Brezhnev: That is bad! How severely they are exploiting you. Dr. Kissinger, I have to complain that in these 10 years my salary hasn’t increased one Kopek. They are all exploiters.

Kissinger: Dobrynin or Gromyko?

Brezhnev: Dobrynin is a nice man.

Kissinger: Gromyko is always at his country house.

Brezhnev: We should lower Kissinger’s and Gromyko’s salaries.

Gromyko: Dr. Kissinger’s point was misunderstood.

Secretary Kissinger’s Response to Points Raised

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, I appreciate the frankness of your presentation. When I arrived at the airport yesterday I said I was coming here to meet friends. In the 7 or 8 times I have been here there has developed a relationship of confidence that enables us to speak frankly. Secondly, I had intended to congratulate the General Secretary on the October 15 anniversary.

Brezhnev: Thank you.

Kissinger: I believe the General Secretary will go down in history as someone who has done much for his people and for the peace of the [Page 185] world. I want to say that while we have spirited debates, we know his commitment to peace and to improved USUSSR relations.

Brezhnev: Let me interrupt to say that you need have no doubts in that regard. I still have some more life—at least 20 years—and throughout I will be steadfast.

Kissinger: I was going to say that when we meet on his 20th Anniversary he will have even greater accomplishments.

Brezhnev: I agree. Then we will not drink tea but cognac.

Kissinger: I have been asked by President Ford to convey his warm regards . . .

Brezhnev: Thank you.

Kissinger: He is firmly committed to the continuation of the policies already established. He is looking forward to meeting you in Vladivostok.

Brezhnev: I am looking forward to it also.

Kissinger: I think your Ambassador will already have given you his own judgement. But in terms of personalities, I believe a constructive personal relationship can be developed.

I am sure that by the time you visit the United States next summer, Mr. General Secretary, many of the problems you have mentioned will have been substantially overcome. At any rate, a cardinal principle of the foreign policy of the Ford Administration is that we want to make relations between the United States and Soviet Union irreversible. And, when we have difficulties and occasional disagreements, we should keep in mind that since 1972 we also have made enormous achievements.

Now, before returning to the specifics of your points, I want to thank you for receiving me when you have another visitor from abroad.11 I know that this adds to the difficulties of your calendar. It is a courtesy we appreciate very much.

With regard to your remarks, Mr. General Secretary, let me group my answers in two categories—those issues that more or less result from the American domestic situation and those issues which more or less reflect the international situation.

In the first category, I place MFN, grain, visits to factories and Senator Jackson. If you can make Senator Jackson a foreign problem for me I would be delighted (laughter). We would be glad to arrange for his emigration without reciprocity, as a unilateral concession to any country. If he comes here you can keep him on national security grounds without problem.

[Page 186]

I do not doubt, Mr. General Secretary, that your Ambassador has given you a good description of the U.S. domestic situation. And, of course, it is also clear that the U.S. domestic situation is not what the foreign policy of the Soviet Union can be based on. It is also true that the Soviet Union has shown extraordinary restraint in commenting on the U.S. domestic situation. I should like to say a few words so that the General Secretary can understand the context of the actions taken.

First, I was, as you know, a close collaborator of President Nixon. I believe, as I have said publicly, history will treat President Nixon more kindly than have his contemporaries. It is true, for whatever reason, that the last phase of his Presidency created so many tensions that in the U.S. Congress much of this is only becoming evident today. The Congress is traditionally controlled by the personal popularity of the President. This balance wheel was removed during the last year. Therefore, it was difficult. Many things have been done by the Congress in the last months that would never have been possible in a normal Presidency.

Brezhnev: That we have noticed.

Kissinger: I say this not to change the facts but to help in understanding. When the new President came in, he was immediately caught up in an election campaign for the new Congress. But, I want to tell the General Secretary the following. I think, as you will see for yourself, my personal relationship with the new President is at least as close as that with his predecessor. You will judge that yourself. We are both determined as soon as the election is over to have a showdown with the Congress on who controls foreign policy.

Brezhnev: That will be this fall?

Kissinger: It will really begin after the meeting in Vladivostok, really in January 1975. There is no sense in fighting with the old Congress. The old Congress comes back November 18 for two-to-three weeks. We will get the Trade Bill from the old Congress. But, the fundamental issues will be fought in January.

In your assessment of the situation, bear in mind that the President until the election had to be a transition President. But he has already started on a much tougher set of speeches yesterday. It is important to understand that starting in January we will be going back to 1972 conditions instead of the conditions you saw in 1973–74.

That is why your meeting in Vladivostok is of importance.

Now, let me speak of the domestic issues you raised—in increasing order of importance. For example, visits to factories by Soviet personnel. I consider a universal law unaffected by ideology the stupidity of bureaucracy. While you were talking, I was raising hell with my associates, left and right, and neither I nor they had ever heard of it. [Page 187] It certainly does not reflect a new national policy. I would suggest Mr. General Secretary that rather than spending time here we have the following understanding. Any visit to which either the General Secretary or the Soviet Government attaches importance, if the Ambassador calls me, and unless there are reasons such as looking at the warheads of our missiles, we will, of course, approve.

Brezhnev: There can certainly be no question of us wanting to look at warheads. Any such authorization would have to come from the Politburo and the Politburo would not approve, and, as the Foreign Minister says, it is not without danger to look at warheads.

Kissinger: That’s true, At any rate, if there is any visit to which the Ambassador attaches importance you can be certain it will be arranged. And, if it is refused at a lower level, that refusal will not be final. I should add that our Agricultural Delegation complained that it could not see certain things during its recent visit—it’s not one-sided.

Brezhnev: I don’t know about it.

Kissinger: Let’s leave it that if either side attaches importance, we will notify each other through our Ambassadors.

Brezhnev: I agree.

Kissinger: I assure you there has been no change in policy.

On the subject of grain purchases, I suppose Secretary Simon has explained what happened. We were confronted with a situation where, in the judgement of our people, if the contracts had been agreed to there would have been a sharp increase in prices. This would have led the Congress to impose export controls which would have meant no grain for the Soviet Union.

Brezhnev: I don’t think we should spend time on this issue here. The fact is that from the press reports we know that the United States sold China 10 million tons and you sold to others. Why was it that there was no problem with regard to those countries but only with the Soviet Union? Perhaps it wasn’t 10 million tons, five million, it doesn’t matter. The crux of the matter is in the unprecedented nature of this action. To some countries you sell grain; with the Soviet Union you discriminate.

We have contracts, up to $2 billion in contracts with your companies. The question in our mind is: If the President vetoes the grain deal, then, perhaps, he will veto others of these contracts. That is what is important, not the precise tonnage of wheat or corn. We ship grain to Poland, the GDR, Bulgaria, one million tons here, 600 thousand there. The point is that this is unilateral discrimination.

Kissinger: In the field of grain I don’t want a debate. One of the useful roles I can perform is to help us understand motivations.

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, you will recall we took a calm attitude; we gave a calm and quiet reply.

[Page 188]

Kissinger: We appreciate this, and the General Secretary will know from the Ambassador that I made a public statement saying that the fault lay with the United States and not with the Soviet Union.12

Let me make a concrete proposal on the subject of grain. First, I want to make clear we have no wish to discriminate against the Soviet Union. Let us set up a mechanism by which the Soviet Union tells us ahead of time how much it wishes to purchase over one year. We will do our best to meet the Soviet demand. In any event, we will give you a precise figure. In the face of world shortages and inflation in our country we must plan distribution, and if a sudden order comes in it has a very disturbing effect.

We are prepared to do this either on a medium-term or a year-to-year basis. We would keep the amount of your planned purchases confidential; it is for our own planning. You could continue to place orders with individual companies. (Discussion among Brezhnev, Gromyko and Dobrynin.)

Kissinger: (To Sukhodrev) Would you please explain that the figure would be for our own planning and that the Soviet Union would place the orders with the companies.

Brezhnev: By and large, I have heard of that proposal before. We are giving it consideration and we haven’t given you our reply. This is not because of sinister designs. We are not yet ready to give you our calculations for five years.

Kissinger: We don’t need five years; one is OK. If you do it for five years we can arrange to include a margin for subsequent crop adjustment. We can do it on either basis.

Brezhnev: Well, the basic reason for no reply thus far is that we are in the process of compiling the next Five Year Plan and we haven’t determined the sums we will allocate for the development of agriculture. I believe that before you leave we will be in position to give you a reply.

We received a request to inform you of the total yield this year. We weren’t able to give you this figure because the harvest is only 59% complete. The harvest is not yet in in the East or the South. Perhaps in a couple of weeks we can give you those figures. Just to give you one example. This morning I signed a telegram of congratulations to the farmers of Krasnodar. They haven’t finished and the Ukraine is bringing in the corn crop. That is the reason why we couldn’t say what the total yield would be. With the final harvest and correct figures we can. And, we didn’t want to be untruthful.

[Page 189]

Kissinger: On agricultural purchases, if we can plan systematically—with no sudden orders—we are prepared to solve this in the spirit of our overall relations and not simply as a commercial transaction. If I may suggest so, in addition to addressing this at the talks here, we should plan on spending a little time on it at Vladivostok, particularly if you can make preliminary proposals before Vladivostok. The major point for the General Secretary and his colleagues is that for us it is a question of planning. It has no political significance. On the contrary, we will give due weight to political considerations in making such decisions.

I am giving a speech in Rome which explains our global concerns with respect to food and why we think that systematic planning is necessary, even if it broaches some principles of the Soviet system.13 Now, should I go to MFN?

Brezhnev: Not to continue this discussion, but I just remember that the United States sold several million tons to Iran.

Kissinger: Let me tell you that an order was placed for 400,000 tons at the time of your order. We stopped that order together with yours.

Brezhnev: I was talking about general background sales to Iran and China while the Soviet order was vetoed.

Kissinger: No, no. We vetoed all foreign orders. We reduced Iran’s order to 200,000 tons. You’re getting 2.2 million tons.

Dobrynin: It is a small country.

Kissinger: But an ally.

Most Favored Nation Treatment

Kissinger: Our attitude on détente was stated in my statement to the Congress. Secondly, it is true that as part of the general Congressional difficulties, the opponents of USUSSR relations have organized very active opposition.

On MFN, it was in this room, or a similar room, that we agreed on MFN and Lend-Lease together in 1972. I had never heard of the Jackson Amendment at the time. Nor had I ever mentioned Jewish emigration. I have stated publicly on numerous occasions that we have a moral obligation on these issues quite independent of any other consideration. And, almost anything Senator Jackson does to the Soviet Union he has done to me. He doesn’t only claim he has defeated the Soviet Union; he claims he has defeated me.

What happened last Friday was a trick of Jackson’s.14 We didn’t know what he would do when he stepped on the White House press [Page 190] podium. That doesn’t make us look good, but I can assure you we won’t get tricked twice.

On the substance of the matter, Soviet officials never said anything to us other than what you have said today. You have said, Mr. General Secretary, and your Foreign Minister has repeated numerous times, that no obstacles would be placed in the way of those seeking either applications or visas.

Gromyko: Except on grounds of national security.

Kissinger: Exactly correct. You have consistently refused to give a specific figure. In the letter I wrote Senator Jackson, no figure was used. My letter said what is true, that visas would be issued in relation to applications received. Jackson then said that this meant 60,000. The White House issued a statement on Monday,15 which I do not know whether you have seen, in which we stated specifically that the Soviet Union had never given us figures, that all the Soviet Union had done was to give us the principle for applications and visas. We said that we are not bound by the Jackson figure, that we would only take it under consideration. The Administration, under extremely difficult circumstances, attempted to fulfill a promise to the Soviet Union, and I regret the behavior of Senator Jackson. I want to assure you on behalf of the Administration that the figure of 60,000 is not our figure, nor do we consider it your figure. All you have told us is that no obstacles would be placed in the way of applications or visas, except national security.

Brezhnev: And that we are fulfilling scrupulously.

Gromyko: But, generally, the formula used by the White House in saying it takes into consideration the Jackson figure gives grounds for a one-sided interpretation of the Jackson figure.

Kissinger: No, no. Jackson said that the Congress would apply certain standards. We said that we would take that into consideration.

Gromyko: All you have said is in the statement, but it does give grounds for interpretation. I have just read it.

Kissinger: I want to make clear that as far as the Administration is concerned our understanding is that no obstacles will be placed in the way of either applications or visas, except for security, and I repeat that as far as the Administration is concerned, the only thing that governs visas is the number of applications. That has been our understanding. The Administration has no other position. If there are no other interferences, the Administration has no right to any objections.

Brezhnev: There is also reference in the letter to harassment involving the applicant and his job.

[Page 191]

Kissinger: I was told this by your Foreign Minister.

Gromyko: There is no harassment.

Kissinger: I didn’t say there is harassment.

Gromyko: I deny having said it.

Dobrynin: But there is the implication in the letter.

Kissinger: The intention of the Administration was to state those things we had been told in order to make MFN possible. There is a mistake that I made, in retrospect. I have believed and have said publicly that it was a mistake for the United States to involve itself in an internal Soviet issue.

I never briefed the press on our discussions. If I had it would have been apparent that he yielded to your point of view, not vice versa. We told him that if necessary he could refer to the letter in the Senate, but not release it at the White House. His manner is as humiliating for me as it is for you (hits table with hand). The press is saying that Kissinger has been defeated by Jackson. I’m as angry as you are. (Secretary Kissinger leaves the room for three minutes.)

Gromyko: Should we continue after lunch, at 5:30 p.m.?

Kissinger: You’re saying that you’re ending this discussion in the middle of my most eloquent speech?

Brezhnev: I have just been handed a most sensational document. At last I can expose Dr. Kissinger (Sukhodrev reads following text of proposed statement on first day’s talks):

“Talks Between Leonid I. Brezhnev and Andrei A. Gromyko and Henry A. Kissinger

“On October 24 talks started in the Kremlin between the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU Leonid I. Brezhnev and member of the Politbureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU, USSR Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko and the U.S. Secretary of State, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry A. Kissinger.

The sides exchanged views on the current state and prospects for the further development of relations between the USSR and USA, notably in the light of the understandings and agreements reached in the course of the Soviet-US summit meetings.

Taking part in the talks, which proceeded in a business-like and constructive atmosphere, were: on the Soviet side—on the U.S. side—”

Kissinger: Front pages of newspapers all over the world will have to be redone.

Brezhnev: Yes.

Kissinger: Can we tell our press some of the subjects that were covered?

Brezhnev: We want to make it public at 9:00 p.m.

[Page 192]

Kissinger: We would just mention a few headings.

Gromyko: Without details.

Kissinger: Can we say that we discussed trade and agriculture and that special attention was paid to Senator Jackson?

Gromyko: If you just say trade and agriculture, you lose the political aspects of the discussion.

Kissinger: A good point. We will say that we did not discuss SALT.

Gromyko: Say that the two sides summed up the developments in their relations to date and that the talks will be continued.

Kissinger: We will say that we did not discuss SALT, but that we touched on the Middle East, CSCE and had a general review of relations.

Brezhnev: Say that the talks will continue this evening.

Kissinger: I will say a few things about CSCE and the Middle East when we meet later today. I want to tell the General Secretary that those issues that have been caused by internal problems we are determined to overcome and will overcome.

Brezhnev: Tonight we will complete those questions we have been discussing so that we can turn to the main discussion tomorrow.

Gromyko: The easiest one.

Brezhnev: To give you something to sleep on, I’ll ask you two questions.

Kissinger: You won’t tell me now?

Brezhnev: Not before lunch?

Kissinger: We would like to make the Vladivostok announcement on Saturday while I am here, at noon.

Brezhnev: I agree.

Kissinger: So, we will work out a text—very simple and moving.

Brezhnev: Later on, I will tell you the technical details (of the Vladivostok arrangements).

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, on a personal basis, I believe this meeting between you and President Ford will be very important. You will have a longer meeting next summer, but it can affect events in the interim. Perhaps we can have a few words on how to do it so that it is most successful. You can count on me to do everything toward this end.

The President is going with good will. His methods are different than his predecessor’s, as your Ambassador will have told you.

Brezhnev: I am as before.

Kissinger: You two will get along well. Don’t you agree Anatol?

Dobrynin: Yes.

[Page 193]

Brezhnev: One question: Mr. Ford intends to bring you to Vladivostok?

Kissinger: What is the Soviet recommendation?

Brezhnev: What’s yours?

Kissinger: The intention was to bring me along. Although, it is being said that if I go to Siberia I would not be able to leave.

Brezhnev: I expect that the President will go with you.

Kissinger: I have that impression. Probably Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Kissinger will go.

Brezhnev: There is one detail. From the airport we will have to fly in two helicopters for 50 minutes to the residence. The terrain is hilly. That is why the airport is not closer to the city. We guarantee absolute safety.

Kissinger: I’m not worried, but our security people will raise hell and will insist on our helicopters.

Brezhnev: You’ll be welcome. I know your helicopters in the United States. If you could have seen the helicopter I used with Brandt. His face turned as white as this napkin. The only kind of helicopter they had was the kind that their police use. The whole thing was vibrating.

We will work it out.

Kissinger: As long as it doesn’t land on Chinese territory.

Brezhnev: But I don’t think your Secret Service could believe I want to lose my life in a helicopter crash!

Kissinger: We will work it out.

Brezhnev: You have a lunch to go to; you’re late. Mr. Gromyko is a punctual man.

Gromyko: I have to be there first to receive the guests.

Meeting ended at 2:00 p. m.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, 1974–1976, Box 1, USSR Memcons and Reports, October 27, 1974—Kissinger/Brezhnev Talks in Moscow. Top Secret; Nodis; Sensitive. Drafted by Clift. The meeting was held in the Old Politburo Room in the Council of Ministers Building, Kremlin. Sonnenfeldt’s handwritten notes of the meeting are in National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Misc. Memcons.
  2. During his visit to the Soviet Union October 12–16, Simon attended the meeting of the U.S.–USSR Trade and Economic Council Directors; he also met with Brezhnev in Moscow on October 15. The Embassy reported on the visit in telegrams 15607 and 15664 from Moscow, both October 16. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files) See also footnote 7, Document 59.
  3. Kissinger met with Brezhnev and Gromyko in Moscow March 25–27 to prepare for the summit in June. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974, Documents 165170.
  4. Secretary Rogers and Minister of Foreign Trade Patolichev signed a Lend-Lease settlement and a comprehensive trade agreement on October 18, 1972, after Kissinger and Brezhnev agreed on the general outlines of the agreements during Kissinger’s trip to Moscow in September. For the text of the agreements, see Department of State Bulletin, November 20, 1972, pp. 595–604.
  5. Reference is to the unscheduled meeting in San Clemente at 10:30 p.m. on June 23, 1973, when Brezhnev warned Nixon about the possibility of war in the Middle East. For a record of the conversation, see Foreign Relations, volume XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974, Document 132.
  6. See Document 49.
  7. Documents 60 and 61.
  8. Not found.
  9. See Document 28.
  10. The President’s message is Document 4. It was Dobrynin, not Gromyko, who delivered Brezhnev’s reply on August 12. See Document 7.
  11. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, visited Moscow October 24–26.
  12. Kissinger made a statement to this effect during his press conference in Washington on October 7. For the full text of the press conference, including the Secretary’s statement on grain, see Department of State Bulletin, October 28, 1974, pp. 565–572.
  13. Kissinger addressed the World Food Conference in Rome on November 5.
  14. October 18. See footnote 8, Document 59.
  15. See footnote 2, Document 63.