92. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • US:
  • The President
  • The Secretary of State
  • Mr. Akalovsky
  • USSR:
  • General Secretary Brezhnev
  • Foreign Minister Gromyko
  • Ambassador Dobrynin
  • Mr. Sukhodrev (interpreting)


  • SALT II, Cyprus, Middle East, CSCE, Trade Bill

The President: Mr. General Secretary, I have consulted with not only Dr. Kissinger but also others. In a spirit of progress in the area of strategic arms limitation as well as other areas in our relations, we considered the various issues before us, including that of bombers. I know you have deep concern about counting ballistic missiles on aircraft. In the spirit of progress in our negotiations and broader aspects of our relations we can agree to count any ballistic missile with the range of over 700 kilometers within the 2400 ceiling. This in effect will mean a serious limitation on our capability to use such systems.

General Secretary Brezhnev: So what you are suggesting is that any ballistic missile over 700 kilometers in range should be counted as one launcher?

The President: Yes.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Mr. President, I have here a small souvenir for you. We also have some more souvenirs elsewhere, but I know that you are a pipe smoker and I thought I would give you this one now. It is a set of pipes and a pipe stand, which I hope you will enjoy.

The President: I will very proudly have this on my desk. I really don’t know how to thank you.

General Secretary Brezhnev: There will also be a souvenir for Mrs. Ford from Mrs. Brezhnev.

The President: Thank you very much. I talked with Mrs. Ford this morning and I told her that we were having very constructive discussions in an excellent atmosphere. She is looking forward to meeting Mrs. Brezhnev in the United States.

[Page 352]

General Secretary Brezhnev: For our part, we would be very pleased to see Mrs. Ford in Moscow and we will accord her a very warm welcome when she comes here.

The President: When you come to the United States, I would like to take you to the Merriweather Post Estate in Florida. I’ve never been there myself but I’m told it’s a most beautiful place. It was given by Mrs. Merriweather Post to the American government.

The Secretary: To be used as a government guest house.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Mr. President, where is your home?

The President: I was born in Nebraska, but the home where I was born has been torn down. I didn’t live in Nebraska too long and spent most of my life in Michigan.

General Secretary Brezhnev: The house in which I was born was an apartment building housing a number of families, including ours. Later, when I was on the City Council in my hometown, I was once told that there was a house in very bad repair and that in fact it was a hazard for the fifteen or so families living there. So I went to look at the house and it turned out to be the one I was born in. As I inspected the house, I saw props in the basement to support the first floor, then props on the first floor to support the second floor, and so all the way up to the top floor. When I said let’s get trucks and move out everybody, however, all those families came to me and demanded three room apartments.

The President: When I went to Omaha, Nebraska, I found just an empty lot where my house of birth had been. It had been leveled by a bulldozer.

Mr. General Secretary, I hope you will recognize that over strong objections of many of my people, although not all, I have made a really significant move which is in the spirit of what we want to achieve here. It is a major shift on our part when we agree to include in the aggregate ballistic missiles on aircraft. Frankly, this move is not unanimously approved on our side, but I made this decision myself in order to break the impasse we got into last night after five or six hours of generally constructive talks.

General Secretary Brezhnev: When I went to bed last night, I had difficulty falling asleep and kept thinking about our talks. I thought they had been fruitful and reflected a spirit of frankness and respect, both personal between ourselves and between our two nations. As I was thinking, all kinds of figures came to my mind, although in some respect I believe it is really regrettable that we have to discuss atomic arms at all. Personally, I did not have the impression that we were in an impasse. After all, these issues have many serious implications and we should not make hasty decisions. Last night, we did not specify bombers, we discussed them only in general terms. Today, you put for [Page 353] ward an interesting suggestion. What we have in mind is that bombers, specifically the B–1’s, carrying missiles with a range of up to 600 kilometers be counted as one launcher. Bombers carrying missiles with a range from 600 to 3000 kilometers should be counted according to the number of missiles they carry. All bomber-carried missiles over 3000 kilometers should be banned. Perhaps this could resolve this entire problem, and then we could say that we have made a great contribution to détente. I believe this golden medium could solve this problem.

The Secretary: Ambassador Dobrynin is an expert as regards the design of our weaponry.

General Secretary Brezhnev: He’s your chief designer!

Ambassador Dobrynin: What the General Secretary has just suggested is basically what you, too, have in mind; the only difference is whether the lower range should be 600 or 700 kilometers.

General Secretary Brezhnev: This would be a beautiful solution, especially for your side.

The Secretary: If we abolish the B–1, it would sound even better!

The President: Mr. General Secretary, a total ban on anything over 3000 kilometers is a principle that is very hard for me to accept. It would look as if we had capitulated in an area where I believe many of our people think we should go forward. As far as counting as one unit missiles from 600 to 3000 kilometers, I don’t think that should be any problem. But I know that a total ban on everything over 3000 kilometers would be seriously objected to by some of my advisors. In order to come to what I believe is a fair proposition in this very important, indeed vital, area I would make a counter-proposal that I think would fit very well into what we want to achieve. I would suggest that there be a limit of 200 on your MIRVed heavy missiles so that while we would give up aircraft-carried ballistic missiles with a range of over 3000 kilometers, you would limit the number of your MIRVed heavy missiles to 200.

(At this point, the members of the Soviet group engaged in a lively discussion among themselves, with Dobrynin arguing in favor of the President’s suggestion and Gromyko, on the contrary, telling Brezhnev that a limit on Soviet heavy missiles with MIRVs was out of the question.)

The Secretary: To be quite candid, the problem of strategic missiles is both strategic and political. Strategically, whether you have a limit or not—whether you have 200 or 300 heavy missiles with MIRVs—would make no difference as regards the strategic equation. Politically, however, our limit on B–1’s should be counterbalanced by your limit on heavy missiles. This would be of great help politically and of significant symbolic importance in the United States. In principle, you could retain 300 heavy missiles but MIRV only 200 of them.

[Page 354]

The President: I believe you should recognize that I am making a very basic decision in banning missiles over 3000 kilometers on our bombers. Many of our experts will object to this, but I believe I can make this move provided I can say that you have agreed to limit the number of your heavy MIRVed missiles to 200.

General Secretary Brezhnev: But the principle of equal security is not observed under such an arrangement, and this is a very important point.

The Secretary: How is that?

General Secretary Brezhnev: Missiles over 3000 kilometers can reach from Leningrad to the Urals. The distance from Moscow to Kiev is only 700 kilometers. Moreover, frankly speaking, such long range missiles would be launched from an area not covered by our anti-aircraft defenses. The fact is that bombers could fly 5000 kilometers, and if you add the range of the missile, which is over 3000 kilometers and could be even 5000 kilometers, you can see that our entire country would be covered. After all, the distance from Moscow to Vladivostok is 9,000 kilometers! So there would be no equal security.

The President: But, Mr. General Secretary, we would count ballistic missiles on aircraft as part of the aggregate of 2400 missiles. So I don’t understand the strategic difference, because in order to put a missile on a bomber we would have to give up a land-based missile. Our land-based missiles have the same range capability, so that it is only a question of choice on our part.

The Secretary: I have the impression that Mr. Gromyko is rejecting the General Secretary’s proposal. Let me sum up the President’s suggestion.

On the lower end, the difference is 600 versus 700 kilometers. I’m sure we could find a solution to this 100-kilometer problem very quickly, perhaps in 5 minutes. Then you said that everything over 3000 kilometers should be banned. The President said that this would be all right provided there is a limit of 200 on your MIRVed heavy missiles. But we would still count everything between 600 and 3000 kilometers as part of the aggregate of 2400. So the only problem is the limit of 200 on your MIRVed heavy missiles. I don’t believe you want to MIRV more than this number anyway. So this is the only issue. You should keep in mind that if there are 10 ballistic missiles on an aircraft, and those missiles have a range of over 700 kilometers, they will count against the aggregate.

(At this point, members of the Soviet team again engaged in consultation among themselves, with Dobrynin pointing out that the Secretary was right that the USSR would not want to MIRV more than 200 heavy missiles. Brezhnev, supported by Gromyko, maintained that [Page 355] while this might be so, the Soviets should retain the right to exceed that number.)

General Secretary Brezhnev: Could we have a fifteen minute break?

The President: No objection.

(After the break, the meeting resumed with Mr. Sonnenfeldt joining the U.S. group. The break lasted almost an hour.)

The President: I smoked one of the pipes you gave me, Mr. General Secretary, and I find it excellent.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Doesn’t a pipe have to be broken in?

The President: Yes, it has to be done slowly.

General Secretary Brezhnev: I have the following question: how would the liquidation of one of your submarine bases, that is Rota, we agreed upon yesterday2 be implemented in practice after 1983?

The Secretary: We would give you a letter just as we did as regards the 54 Titans. That is our intention.

General Secretary Brezhnev: When would you give us such a letter?

The Secretary: When we sign the agreement, in the summer.

The President: Our intention is to preclude the use of Rota by nuclear submarines.

The Secretary: You would get a letter from the President that our intention is not to use Rota after 1983 for submarines equipped with nuclear weapons.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Mr. President, do you believe that the new agreement should be signed in Washington?

The President: Yes.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Alright, so let’s sum up. The U.S. would have the right to have 2400 launchers of all types, on land, on the sea, and in the air. The same would apply to the Soviet Union, which would be entitled to 2400 launchers of all types, land, sea and air. As regards MIRVs, the United States would have 1320 MIRVed vehicles, and the USSR would also have 1320 such vehicles. United States aircraft carrying missiles up to 600 kilometers would count as one launcher, whereas aircraft carrying missiles over 600 kilometers in range would be counted according to the number of missiles they carried. In other words, if an aircraft carried 15 missiles, it would count as 15 launchers—if it carried 20, it would count as 20 launchers. All this would be counted against the ceiling of 2400. Under this arrangement, we would [Page 356] meet each other half way. As regards heavy missiles, there would be no limit either for us or for you. Also, as was agreed yesterday, neither we nor you would build new silos. Nor would there be a limit on our heavy missiles as regards MIRVing. This is what you proposed this morning.3

The Secretary: But these limitations regarding bombers would apply to both sides, wouldn’t they?

General Secretary Brezhnev: Of course, on the basis of reciprocity.

The President: There would be no limit on our capability of over 3000 kilometers?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Correct, but each missile over 600 kilometers would be counted within and against the ceiling.

The Secretary: I just whispered to the President that I would be willing to bet any amount that the Soviet Union will not MIRV over 200 heavy missiles and the United States will not build air missiles with a range of over 3000 kilometers. But it seems that weapons designers have won.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Well, each side will retain the right to proceed in these areas.

The President: This is fine with us. I would suggest that Dr. Kissinger come to the Soviet Union sometime in the spring, prior to your visit, Mr. General Secretary, so that there would be no difficulty later.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Agree.

The Secretary: But this time I will go to Leningrad! I believe we should give this agreement in principle to our Geneva negotiators to work on it for two or three months in order to develop all the details, and then we can finish whatever is left when I come to the Soviet Union in the spring, so that the agreement can be signed in the summer.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: When would Dr. Kissinger come to Moscow?

The Secretary: Perhaps in early April.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: That would be all right with us.

General Secretary Brezhnev: So, Mr. President, this meeting was not in vain!

The President: Certainly not, it has been very constructive.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Mr. President, we have another souvenir for you, this time from a local artist. It is a portrait of you made of inlaid wood.

[Page 357]

The President: Thank you very much, but this portrait makes me much more handsome, and Mrs. Ford will think she is married to a new man. It is really amazing how an artist can find different shades of wood to render the color of the skin, hair, and eyes. This is really true art!

Ambassador Dobrynin: Well, Mr. President, this man found a picture of you in a newspaper, and frankly speaking not a very good picture, and did this portrait from it. He then sent the portrait to comrade Brezhnev and asked him if he would like to present it to you.

The President: Well, I would like to meet the artist and thank him personally, if that is possible.

Ambassador Dobrynin: I don’t know where he lives, but I’m sure we can find him. Mr. Aleksandrov can do that.

The President: But I don’t want to make too much trouble for you, so perhaps you can find out his address and I will write him a note.

Ambassador Dobrynin: Yes, that might be simpler.

The Secretary: Time is getting short, so may I raise a few practical questions before we move to the next topic. My impression is that you, Mr. President, and the General Secretary have agreed that a separate statement on strategic arms limitation will be issued in addition to the communiqué.

General Secretary Brezhnev: That’s right.

The Secretary: We can ask Sonnenfeldt and Kornienko to work on this.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: That would be fine. We have a draft of such a statement that is based on the draft you had given us.

The Secretary: We should release this statement a few hours before the President departs, so that our press can use it.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Simultaneously with the communiqué?

The Secretary: Yes, at the same time. Then, perhaps during the banquet, I can brief the press. Our press will leave with the President and won’t have opportunity to file unless it gets the statement before then.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: That is entirely up to you.

The Secretary: Perhaps we can release the communiqué sometime around 3 o’clock with an embargo until 5 o’clock?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: No, that would be too early. I suggest that the embargo be until 6 o’clock, because otherwise our press in Moscow, given the time differential, will have problems.

The Secretary: That wouldn’t make any difference to us.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Well, then, it will be still better if we embargo until 7 o’clock local time.

[Page 358]

The Secretary: No problem. Where is the signing of the communiqué going to take place?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Here, in this room.

The Secretary: As regards numbers, Mr. President, my instinct is that you will have to brief congressional leaders. Thus the figures will come out, but only 2400 and 1320 and not those about bombers.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: This is not a good idea, because there is much yet to be clarified. After all, the agreement will be signed only in the future.

The Secretary: But we can use the language we suggested without figures, can’t we?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Yes.

The Secretary: All right, but after the President talks with congressional leaders the numbers are bound to come out.

The President: The document we’re issuing will have to refer to equivalence regarding both missiles and MIRVs.

Mr. Aleksandrov (who had just joined the group): We have language on this point.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Perhaps Mr. Sonnenfeldt can now meet with Kornienko to work on the text.

The Secretary: As regards the communiqué, there are two points that are still unresolved.

(At this point the Secretary asked General Scowcroft to join the U.S. group.)

General Secretary Brezhnev: Perhaps after our return to Moscow and Washington respectively we could exchange, through our embassies, aides-mémoire on the figures we have arrived at.

The Secretary: Yes, that is very important.

The President: We will do this as soon as the Secretary returns from his trip.

The Secretary: A week from tomorrow, would that be all right?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Agree.

The Secretary: We would state it exactly as the General Secretary has summed it up.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Yes.

The Secretary: To return to the communiqué, perhaps we could complete it now and then we could discuss other subjects. I know that the President and the General Secretary also want to discuss a restricted subject.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Then Sonnenfeldt and Kornienko should come back to the room.

[Page 359]

The Secretary: Sonnenfeldt yes, but not Kornienko! But maybe they deserve each other!

General Secretary Brezhnev: They sure do! Mr. President, may I excuse myself for 10 or 15 minutes, I have some personal business to attend to.

The President: I’ll also leave the room for a while.

(At this point, Ambassador Stoessel and Assistant Secretary Hartman were invited to join the U.S. group.)

Foreign Minister Gromyko: In the draft communiqué, you have a bracketed reference to strategic arms limitation. I think we should drop it, now that there will be a separate statement on this subject.

The Secretary: I think the communiqué without any reference to the most important subject of strategic arms limitation would look rather peculiar. I believe we should have some language stating that the subject was discussed and that a separate statement on it is being issued.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: All right, perhaps we can have a sentence reading as follows: “A joint statement on the question of limiting offensive strategic arms is being published separately.”

The Secretary: That sounds all right.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: As regards Cyprus, perhaps we could use your text but add to it that both the United States and the USSR oppose territorial division of Cyprus. Such an addition could be included in the sentence which speaks of territorial integrity of Cyprus.

The Secretary: How would you do it?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Perhaps we could add a separate sentence, something like this: “They expressed themselves against territorial division of Cyprus in any form.”

The Secretary: I believe the point is made in the sentence as it stands now, and I don’t think we should prejudge the results of their negotiations regarding possible federal or cantonal arrangements.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: But the Turks can partition without saying that they are doing so.

The Secretary: Our formulation takes care of territorial integrity and independence. Also, the UN resolution is against partition,4 so the problem is covered.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: But the Turks say that they are acting in accordance with the UN resolution although in fact they are not. We [Page 360] know that what the Turks are doing is not what those who voted for the resolution had in mind.

The Secretary: I believe both sides are about to engage in negotiations, and we should not make their work more difficult.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: My point will strengthen the position of both sides.

The Secretary: Considering that our two principals will have no opportunity to discuss Cyprus, I believe this is as far as we can go.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Well, perhaps we could add to your sentence at least the words “and will make every effort in that direction.”

The Secretary: That I could accept.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: What about withdrawal of troops?

The Secretary: I believe this is as far as we can go. So now you can tell the Greeks that we oppose withdrawal, and that will make you very popular with them.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: May I suggest a three-minute break before we turn to the Middle East section of the communiqué?

The Secretary: Sure.

(While Gromyko was consulting with his associates, the President came back into the room. In talking with Sukhodrev, the President recalled his 1958 trip to Moscow, during which—although he was a junior member of the Congressional group he was with—he and Mrs. Ford were given the plushest accommodations at the Ukraina Hotel. The President commented that the only explanation one could think of was that whoever was making the arrangements on the Soviet side thought that Congressman Ford from Michigan must be related to Henry Ford from Michigan. When Brezhnev also returned to the room, in the course of a chat with the President he suggested that they go sightseeing in Vladivostok. The President accepted the invitation.)

The Secretary: Could we establish a schedule for the rest of the day.

General Secretary Brezhnev: I believe we should finish discussing the basic issues and then have lunch. Thereafter, I would suggest that we allocate an hour or so for visiting Vladivostok.

The President: That would be excellent.

The Secretary: Perhaps the Foreign Minister and I could come along, in a separate car?

General Secretary Brezhnev: All right, let’s go together.

The Secretary: I’m simply trying to figure out the time when I can brief the press, so that they can file their stories.

General Secretary Brezhnev: When would you like to do it?

[Page 361]

The Secretary: At 3 or 3:30. Perhaps while you are having lunch.

General Secretary Brezhnev: No objection.

The Secretary: So I’ll brief the press at 3:30 with a 7 pm Vladivostok time embargo. When would the signing take place?

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Right after lunch.

The President: All right. And afterwards we would go to Vladivostok and then depart?

General Secretary Brezhnev: Yes, after Vladivostok we will go straight to the train. Shall we discuss the Middle East now?

The President: May I suggest that we discuss that special matter first. During that discussion, I would like only Dr. Kissinger, General Scowcroft, and myself to be present.

General Secretary Brezhnev: On our side we’ll have only myself, Gromyko, Dobrynin and Aleksandrov.

(This discussion lasted from 1340 to 1405, with General Scowcroft taking notes.5 The meeting then resumed with Messrs. Hartman and Akalovsky returning to their seats. Somewhat later, Mr. Rumsfeld also joined the U.S. group.)

General Secretary Brezhnev: The Middle East question is a complex one. We faced its complexity a long time ago, at the outset of the conflict. When I was in Washington, I told Mr. Nixon, with Dr. Kissinger present, that this was a very explosive area and that measures should be taken to achieve a just solution. That statement was not sufficiently taken into account and ultimately war broke out. Dr. Kissinger knows well that for a long time we have been taking a position of restraining the Arabs and have never instigated anyone. It is no accident that after the war had broken out we both acted in the Security Council, which then passed a resolution. Thus we became in effect guarantors of peace in the area. At that time we acted both together, but later this fell apart. I don’t want to offend anyone or to make any complaints, but Dr. Kissinger apparently thought he could do it himself. There was a time when the Arabs, too, perhaps were hoping that a solution could be achieved and made certain concessions. But it is now quite clear that unless a solution is found, there will be war again. I was ill when the Rabat Conference took place but read the communiqué later.6 That conference reaffirmed the Arab position regarding a peaceful settlement, territorial integrity, and so forth. If we act together vis-à-vis both the Arabs and Israel, we can find a fair solution—if we don’t, there will be war. Of course, you may disagree. But the fact is that this is a very large area, which includes many countries—Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Is [Page 362] rael. We should really have pity for the people in that area. As for the USSR, it has no special interests there. I need not tell you that we are not buying or selling anything special in that area. The fundamental issue is that of Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. This is a complex problem and we ought to find out who will make what concessions. This is why the Geneva Conference should meet as frequently as possible. (Dobrynin whispered to Gromyko that Brezhnev should have said “as soon as possible” rather than “as frequently as possible” because the Conference had not yet begun, but Gromyko retorted that Brezhnev’s formulations covered that point too.) I’m sure a solution can be found at the negotiating table.

The President: I share the view that political cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union is absolutely important in this extremely volatile area of the world. We did cooperate in preparations for UN Resolution 338,7 and we do believe that joint efforts of all nations to solve all the problems in this area are possible and perhaps necessary. At the same time, however, we believe that it is necessary first to lay the groundwork for such efforts. So we are not against the Geneva Conference, but believe that it should convene at the proper time. Total involvement by all is also not possible for our domestic political reasons. If we can agree on cooperating as we did in the past, and if groundwork is laid at the outset, we can move to the Geneva Conference at an appropriate time.

The Secretary: It is not correct to say that we thought we could do it all alone. We always knew there was a limit to what could or should be done by us alone. We only thought that by our efforts we could achieve a certain disengagement of forces, also involving some withdrawal of Israeli forces. So we did not believe that a global solution should be sought from the outset. And never did we have any idea that we were competitors of the Soviet Union in the area or that it should be expelled from there. I discussed this with Ambassador Dobrynin many times on behalf of the President. In the final analysis, it is we and no one else who has to pressure Israel, but every time we do it, there are political difficulties. That is why we cannot push for a 40-point program. We have to keep our opponents divided.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Well, what should we do? What can we do to prevent another war?

The President: We have the same objective of preventing another war in the Middle East. I believe we should resume an active exchange of ideas between Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Dobrynin regarding our further actions, because time can escape us. We must discuss the [Page 363] tactical situation in the Middle East and how to handle it. I think this should be in the hands of Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Dobrynin.

General Secretary Brezhnev: There would be no harm in that, but we at the highest level should know what to do. Neither Dobrynin nor Kissinger could do it alone. You and I ultimately will have to decide what to do.

The President: Mr. General Secretary, I believe both of us recognize the danger in this situation and we agree that there is a great need for political cooperation between you and me. We agree that at least some preliminary steps are required for the Geneva Conference. If we agree on this framework, then Ambassador Dobrynin and Dr. Kissinger could develop the details in exchanging information as to what to do to prevent another war.

(Brezhnev whispered to Gromyko that perhaps he should agree because he could not see what else could be done.)

The President: To keep it at a high level, let us exchange letters that would serve as guideposts for the DobryninKissinger exchange I suggested.

General Secretary Brezhnev: I do not exclude this possibility but I must admit that I have a feeling of dissatisfaction. It seems clear that we do not have the same appreciation of the problem and that our approaches to it differ. The situation in this area is poisoning the general atmosphere of détente, which—whether we want it or not—affects both of us.

The President: I don’t agree that the approaches we are suggesting are so different that they should destroy the atmosphere of détente. We can and will cooperate and I don’t think that relatively minor disagreements in this area could have such a negative effect on détente and its development.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Of course, what is of a fundamental, worldwide, importance are our basic relations and accords. Nevertheless, the situation in this corner of the world must be peaceful, because—as I said before—there are many states in that area.

The President: Of course, the situation there does worry me, because any throwing of fuel on the fire in that area affects negatively our cooperation there. Just as you said, I don’t want to offend or accuse anyone either, but it is imperative to recognize that greatly controlled restraint is required in that area. And we do want to exercise such restraint. So I believe that if we could exchange letters and pursue the KissingerDobrynin channel, we could lower the temperature in the area and prevent war. One final point. We have a very difficult problem at home with which I am sure you are familiar. If we are to move towards a solution and prevent war in the Middle East, we have to [Page 364] work with that group. I suggest, Mr. General Secretary, that perhaps we should now turn to the question of the European Security Conference, a subject in which we both are very interested.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Let’s do that.

The President: We hope that there can be some real movement in this area. I believe we have to work between ourselves to reach possible solutions, and I think we can do it. What is your view as to what should be done to move the Conference to its final successful conclusion?

General Secretary Brezhnev: Mr. President, I would like to turn this question back to you. There are a lot of artificial, invented issues in Geneva. All issues regarding security have been practically solved, but what is braking progress is the so-called Basket III. Let’s clean up that basket and everything will be solved. What is the United States concern in this area?

The Secretary: I would like to see that Dutch cabaret opened in Moscow so that I can visit it.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Give us time to build it.

The Secretary: May I ask what you discussed with Schmidt,8 since he will be visiting the President in a couple of weeks. As I told you in October, we would be prepared to talk with Schmidt and Giscard to expedite matters. But in order not to work at cross purposes, it would be useful to know what you discussed with Schmidt.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Generally speaking, Schmidt did not object to concluding the conference. In essence, what the Germans are concerned about is the question of reunification. (Gromyko corrected Brezhnev’s terminology by saying that the issue in question was that of peaceful change of boundaries.) So the question is where to place this point in the document. The basic principle is that borders should be inviolable and that states are to remain independent. A reference to peaceful change of boundaries could be placed somewhere, but the Germans came up with language the effect of which is to suggest that the primary purpose of international law is change of boundaries.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: I fully agree with comrade Brezhnev’s comments. I must also say that as of late the United States influence on the conference has diminished and that somehow the United States has become passive in Geneva. We regard this as part of United States policy. When the United States wanted to give a push to the conference, it did it rather well. Dr. Kissinger will remember that when the ques [Page 365] tion of principles was discussed, more specifically that of non-interference, the United States acted together with us and we succeeded in persuading others. But recently the situation has deteriorated. To turn to specific issues, I want to point out that neither in joint Soviet-American nor in separate United States documents is there specific reference to the United States endorsing the holding of the third stage of the conference at the highest level. Even in today’s communiqué there’s no such reference. This is my first point. My second point is that United States representatives in Geneva either don’t have or, if they do, are concealing and not implementing instructions to bring the conference to an end as soon as possible. All delegations should be instructed to conclude the conference by say January 1 or 15, or some other specific date. Many delegations are looking to you for taking the lead.

The Secretary: Here’s another complaint in addition to several others. Never before did I hear praise for our cooperation, but at least today, several months later, we heard that we had done something. But may I return to the statement on strategic arms limitation and raise one question. As I understand, the Soviet side does not wish to say that both sides have agreed to “equal aggregates” and is prepared to say only “certain agreed levels.”

General Secretary Brezhnev: What’s wrong with this formulation, what is your difficulty with it?

The Secretary: We can accept it, but you will have to understand that in the press briefing today and in the President’s meeting with congressional leaders we will have to say that the numbers would be equal, for otherwise there would be an explosion.

General Secretary Brezhnev: But you won’t mention any figures, will you?

The Secretary: We will state no figures, but we will have to say that they will be equal. Otherwise, even before the President returns home, there will be a great deal of criticism, which will destroy the effect of what we achieved last night and this morning.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: This is your business.

General Secretary Brezhnev: That’s right, that’s up to you.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: To continue, all delegations in Geneva should be instructed to finish the conference by a certain definite date. It would be good if we here could agree to act in such a way as to end Stage II by January 1 and have Stage III take place at the highest level sometime in January. As regards Basket III, the United States has demonstrated some sober judgment. But why do certain countries insist on imposing on others foreign institutions, even organizations managed by foreigners? Why should someone come as guest if he is not invited? [Page 366] We will have a cabaret if we want it. That’s my third point. My fourth point is regarding the question of borders. The main aspect of this problem, that is inviolability, has been agreed upon and there are no difficulties. As to peaceful change, one question is where to place that point. But then a new formulation appeared and the Germans told us that it was the United States who had proposed it. In his conversations with us, Dr. Kissinger was indignant and said that this was an FRG and not a United States proposal. Nevertheless, this new language has been floating around ever since, and its thrust is that the main purpose of international law is change of borders. Let us jointly convince the FRG not to drag out this issue. Now let me turn to my fifth point. It relates to the issue of the significance of principles. Some maintain that all principles, be they on cabarets or on inviolability of borders, are of equal significance. Of course, one cannot agree to this proposition. But this is exactly what some are trying to impose on us. In our view, all principles should be strictly observed, so let us both pursue this line, not only in the corridors but at the negotiating table as well. Now to my sixth point. In Geneva, certain measures relating to military détente have been under discussion. They pertain to such things as maneuvers and movement of troops. As regards movement of troops, it seems that this issue is being left for the future, but on maneuvers some people want us to give information about everything that goes on in the area up to the Urals, even as regards the activities of small units. In our view, a solution of this problem should be such as would lessen tensions and suspicions. But the approach I just referred to would have the contrary result. Long ago, we agreed on exchanging observers at maneuvers, but now this issue threatens to become an obstacle, because it is artificially exaggerated. So efforts should be made to resolve all these issues. Otherwise, the conference will not be concluded.

The Secretary: I will not give a six-point answer, partly because some of the issues are so complicated that I have a hard time understanding them. In fact, I believe that Mr. Gromyko is the only Foreign Minister who understands all the issues. My comments will relate to three points: first, principles; second, Basket III; and third, movement of troops. The problem of principles is essentially a German problem. The issue of equal validity or placement is a mystery to me, it is one that required Kantian education to understand. We do not believe that it can have any effect on the real situation, because no one will change the borders merely because the word “only” appears at the end of a CSCE document. As the President said, he will raise this question with Schmidt and try to convince the Germans to review their position. Then we will inform you.

[Page 367]

The President: I will meet with Schmidt and Giscard and will discuss these CSCE issues with them in order to try to develop a method for solving all the points raised by the Foreign Minister.9

General Secretary Brezhnev: I’ll make only a few brief comments, since comrade Gromyko has made a full presentation on this problem. I was pleased to see in one of your letters, Mr. President, the statement that you will seek the earliest conclusion of the Geneva conference and then sign the documents at the highest level. I’m a businesslike man and I believe you. I hope, therefore, that every effort will be made to this end. Do you think that the conference could be concluded by January 1, with the final stage at the highest level taking place in January?

The Secretary: Absolutely impossible.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Why?

The Secretary: Let’s be realistic. The second reading of Basket III has not yet been completed. In fact, you still owe us some formulations regarding that Basket. So, realistically, the conference could be concluded by the end of March, with Stage II terminating by the end of February and Stage III taking place in March or April.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: Can we agree that Stage II should end in the second half of February?

The Secretary: With a major effort, perhaps that might be possible, but we will be able to give you an honest estimate after our discussions with Schmidt and Giscard. To be perfectly frank, there is not one United States objective for which we would want to prolong the conference but, on the other hand, we don’t want to antagonize our allies. We believe the conference has been dragging too long and that by now no one really understands the issues, except perhaps Gromyko.

General Secretary [Foreign Minister] Gromyko: Can we have at least a tentative date?

The Secretary: Perhaps March or April.

The President: I will talk with Schmidt and Giscard and attempt to get them to move in this area.

(At this point, Assistant Secretary Hartman left the room.)

The President: Mr. General Secretary, time is pressing and I would like, therefore, to turn to some other matters. Regarding our Trade Bill, as you know, I worked personally on the Senate to get that bill moved. The problem that was holding it up fortunately has been resolved but then, unfortunately, one of the members of the Senate mentioned some [Page 368] figure neither you nor I had agreed to. I want to assure you that I did not authorize any figures, because in our exchanges no figures had been mentioned. We only proceed on the basis of three principles. One, that there will be no limit on applications; two, that there will be no refusal except for security reasons; and three, that there will be no prosecution of applicants. But we do not assume any specific figure. Now that the Trade Bill has passed the House Finance Committee, I will push it in the Senate. I will also push the Export-Import Bank bill so as to resolve the credit problem.

General Secretary Brezhnev: I want to tell you that we are doing no such things—no one is being punished, detained or harassed, and no tax is being levied. But I must point out that the number of applications has diminished. In fact, over the past 10 months it has dropped 50% as compared with last year. We will give comrade Kissinger information on this subject through Dobrynin. I called Dr. Kissinger comrade because we know him so well—we have had something like nine meetings with him already and I believe that he’s quite satisfied with the way things have been going. But to return to our subject, the problem is that now there is this figure of 60,000 mentioned by Jackson and we don’t have as many applications, although I don’t have the exact figure at hand.

In looking back at our discussions, Mr. President, I find them extremely useful and productive. I’m very glad to have met you personally, and I think that such meetings can greatly help us in pursuing improvement of relations between our two countries.

The President: I fully agree, Mr. General Secretary, and I’m very grateful for your generous hospitality.

General Secretary Brezhnev: Before we break up and go to lunch, I would like to mention the fact that next year will mark the 30th anniversary of victory over Germany. We have a number of ideas as to how to commemorate this event. Through Dobrynin we will communicate to you our views on such activities as could be conducted on a joint basis, for example exchange of delegations, appropriate press coverage, etc.—in short, some activities of a public and political nature. After all, we were allies during the war.

The President: This has great merit and I believe we can work out something. Now, Mr. General Secretary, I would like to say that I believe that this first meeting has made it possible for me not only to meet you but also to establish a relationship with you that I hope will grow and receive new impulses at our future meeting. I heard from Mr. Nixon and Dr. Kissinger about your dedication to peace on the basis of détente between our two countries. Everything Mr. Nixon and Dr. Kissinger said has been borne out in these 24 hours. This gives me great hope that in the future we will be able to develop détente and do what I [Page 369] believe both our countries need. Everything I heard about your humanitarian approach proved to be true on the basis of my personal encounter. Of course, we have some differences philosophically and politically but I hope they can be overcome through progress in all areas of relations between our two countries.

General Secretary Brezhnev: I’m very pleased to hear this and I want you to know that I reciprocate in every respect. I believe Dr. Kissinger will confirm that if I say something, I always keep my word. I can argue and debate, but once I give my word, I stand by it. It is on this basis that mutual respect and confidence can thrive. It’s too bad we have been so busy that we had no time for telling jokes, something we used to do at our previous meetings.

Foreign Minister Gromyko: We can do it at the next meeting.

The Secretary: The General Secretary has a big store of jokes.

The President: Thank you again for the beautiful pipes, you see that I’ve started breaking them in.

General Secretary Brezhnev: We have some additional souvenirs which we will deliver at the airport, both for you and your wife. Please convey our best wishes for her recovery.10

The President: You were very kind in sending her best wishes at the time of her operation. Thank you very much.

(At this point, at 3:55 p.m. Brezhnev invited the President and others to join him for lunch in an adjacent room.)11

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 6, SALT, Nov–Dec 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. Drafted by Akalovsky. The meeting was held in the Okeanskaya Sanatorium, near Vladivostok.
  2. See Document 91.
  3. Reference should presumably be to the meeting the previous evening. See Document 91.
  4. Presumably a reference to UN General Assembly Resolution 3212, adopted on November 1.
  5. See Document 93.
  6. See footnote 9, Document 86.
  7. See footnote 8, Document 86
  8. Brezhnev and Schmidt met in Moscow during the latter’s official visit to the Soviet Union October 28–31. For the condensed English text of their joint statement, issued at the conclusion of the talks, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXVI, No. 44 (November 27, 1974), pp. 12–13.
  9. Ford and Schmidt met in Washington during the latter’s official visit to the United States December 4–6; Ford and Giscard met in Martinique December 14–16. For Ford’s discussion of CSCE with Schmidt and Giscard, see, respectively, Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIX, European Security, Documents 263 and 267.
  10. On September 28, 2 days after a diagnosis of breast cancer, Betty Ford underwent a mastectomy at Bethesda Naval Medical Center.
  11. After this meeting, Ford and Brezhnev attended a ceremony in the conference hall at Okeanskaya Sanatorium, where they signed the joint communiqué for the 2-day summit in Vladivostok. The two sides also released a joint statement on the limitation of strategic offensive arms. For the text of these two documents, see Public Papers: Ford, 1974, Nos. 257 and 258. They were also published in The New York Times, November 25, 1974, p. 14. Kissinger also held a press conference at 4:18 p.m. to discuss the substance of the summit. For the text of the press conference, see Department of State Bulletin, December 23, 1974, pp. 898–905.