7. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Ford1

Dear Mr. President,

First of all I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of your assuming office of the President of the United States.

I received your message of August 9.2 Saying it straight, I and my colleagues were gratified to see your determination to continue the policy of maintaining and developing further all the good progress which was achieved in relations between our countries during the administration of your predecessor, President Nixon.

Such an approach concurs with our course in Soviet-American relations. I wish with all firmness to underline to you, Mr. President, personally that we are full of determination to build further our relations with the United States on the basis of long-range and stable perspective. To maintain with the United States the relations of peace and cooperation on the basis of full equality and mutual benefit is the line of principle for the Soviet Union and this line remains invariable.

Thus we are convinced that the better and more stable are the relations between the USSR and the US as the most powerful countries, the more lasting will be peace on the earth, the more realistic will be the possibility of eliminating completely the threat of nuclear catastrophe, and consequently the better it will be for all the peoples of the world.

It is well known that it took energetic and pointed efforts of both sides to make possible the turn which has been achieved in the relations between the USSR and the US during last years. It is also clear that further advance along the road of détente and improvement of relations between our countries is not a simple task. But we make from this only one conclusion: it is necessary not to relax but to persistently multiply efforts directed at securing what has been achieved, at further developing and deepening the reconstruction of Soviet-American relations.

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Judging by your message, by your confidential words which were reported to me, and also by public statements made by you already in your capacity as the President of the United States, we have between us a common understanding exactly in the main thing—where to lead to in Soviet-American relations. And this is very important. Let us, Mr. President, act jointly in this big and important cause.

And we do have established channels for frank exchange of opinion on all questions which may arise. On our part we consider these channels quite effective and, like you, intend to further use them.

I thank you, Mr. President, for reaffirming the invitation to come to the United States next year with official visit. I intend to take advantage of this invitation. Concrete time of my visit to the United States can be agreed upon later. Of course, we proceed from the assumption that after this you also will make an official visit to the Soviet Union.

At the same time I also believe, like you, that a working meeting between us before the end of the year and somewhere on, so to say, neutral ground would be in the best interests of the cause. Experience shows how useful and valuable are personal contacts. There will be no difficulties, I think, to agree upon details of arranging such a meeting with due account of the development of events.

In conclusion I would like to tell you, Mr. President, that I and my colleagues understand full well the enormous responsibility which the leader of a great country has to shoulder, and we wish you successful and fruitful activity in your high office.


L. Brezhnev3
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 27, USSR, The “D” File, Items #1–4 (8/9/74–8/11/74). Secret. A copy of the letter in Russian, initialed by Dobrynin, is ibid. According to his Record of Schedule, Kissinger returned a telephone call from Dobrynin at 10:37 a.m. on August 12. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 439, Miscellany, 1968–76) No substantive record of the conversation has been found. During a meeting in his office at 11:30, Kissinger remarked: “Dobrynin has come back. I will see him at noon. He has a message from Brezhnev to the President.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 91D414, Records of Henry Kissinger, Box 5, Nodis Memcons, Aug. 1974, Folder 5) No record of the noon meeting has been found. In addition to Brezhnev’s reply to Ford, Dobrynin probably also delivered Gromyko’s letter to Kissinger (Document 8).
  2. Document 4.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.