118. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • 1) President Ford’s Trip to Europe and the Miki Visit to Washington
  • 2) The President’s and the Secretary’s Trips to China


  • U.S. Side:
    • The Secretary
    • Assistant Secretary Philip C. Habib
    • Director Winston Lord
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary William Gleysteen
  • PRC Side:
    • Ambassador Huang Chen
    • Chien Ta-yung
    • Shen Jo-yun
    • Yang Hsu-ching

Ambassador Huang: You must be very busy Mr. Secretary.

Secretary: Yes. I wanted to have dinner with you tonight at Marquis Childs’ but unfortunately I have to work on a speech instead, [Page 723] my speech in Birmingham.2 Perhaps it could be arranged on another occasion. We could have dinner at the house of another mutual friend.

Ambassador: Good. Let’s do that.

Secretary: It’s been too long since we last saw each other. I thought we should have a brief review of events. We have, as you know, just come back from the Helsinki meetings and Eastern Europe.

Ambassador: Are you going away soon on another round of shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East?

Secretary: It’s not settled yet, but chances are now better than 50–50. The chances are that I will go the middle of next week.

Let me say a few things about our recent trip. The President’s trip was obviously not designed to strengthen Soviet control over Eastern Europe. We deliberately visited those countries in Eastern Europe that have shown the most independence. In Romania we found deep concern and hostility toward the Soviets. I am sure you are familiar with the situation in Yugoslavia. As we announced during our trip, we will start selling some military equipment to Yugoslavia.

Ambassador: Is it decided already?

Secretary: Yes. It has been decided.

Let me first say something about the formal conference at Helsinki. I think it is a great mistake to overstate the significance of the conference. We do not see it as having ratified any frontiers. No new legal status was accorded to frontiers beyond the status they had from previous agreements. The Declaration dealt only with the methods of change, not the sanctity of borders.

In the bilateral meetings with Soviet leaders, Brezhnev seemed to us to have been in better health in other places we have met him than he was in Helsinki. He seemed to have a little trouble concentrating. We talked primarily about the problems of strategic arms limitation, but we haven’t come to any final conclusions; we are not even sure they are possible.

On other issues, I made clear that we would not participate in the Soviet scheme for an Asian collective security system. (The Secretary turned to Lord and asked if he had sent to the Chinese his Helsinki press statement which ruled out U.S. participation in such an exercise. Lord replied that he had.) Of course, if China should favor our participation, we might reconsider our position.

[Page 724]

Ambassador: I received a copy of your statement. We think that the Soviets will have a very hard time peddling their collective security system.

Secretary: I agree. We will oppose it. We also told Brezhnev privately about our position. Those were the only significant issues in our bilateral discussions with the Soviet leaders. The President also had an extremely good meeting with the British Prime Minister, the President of France, and the German Chancellor concerning ways of strengthening cooperation. The meeting was extremely constructive and may be followed by another one in the fall dealing with the economic situation.

Ambassador: I understand from the press that less than a week after the Helsinki conference, the Soviets violated Norwegian airspace. This would seem to confirm our view that the conference represents no change in basic Soviet strategy. They will continue to feint toward the East and move toward the West.

Secretary: Maybe they will feint toward the West and move toward the East, but for us the problem is the same. Although I am not aware of the Norwegian overflight, I won’t contest that it actually occurred. I agree there has not been any fundamental change in Soviet policy.

Ambassador: We do not think that the CSCE will change things, especially the Soviet strategy of feinting to the East but moving to the West.

Secretary: It won’t change our determination to prevent an attack in either direction.

I would also like to tell you about our meetings with Prime Minister Miki of Japan. We told the Japanese we supported their attempt to improve relations with you. Miki asked me privately about the anti-hegemony clause in the treaty negotiations. I told him we couldn’t object to what we put in our own communiqué with you.

The Japanese expressed great concern over the Korean situation. We agreed with them on the extreme importance of maintaining peace in the Korean peninsula. We also told the Japanese that we were opposed to the Soviets’ Asian collective security scheme or any other moves which seemed directed at the People’s Republic of China.

At some point, not necessarily now, we would be interested in your Government’s assessment of the Indochina situation, especially the relations of Cambodia and Viet-Nam.3 We would like your real assessment.

Ambassador: I think our leaders have already discussed this with some of your recent visitors.

[Page 725]

Secretary: I haven’t seen any such reports. You must get your reports faster than we do.

Ambassador: The situation in Cambodia is good.

Secretary: Except for all the people who had to leave Phnom Penh.4 Seriously, although I would not have recommended or endorsed the measures adopted by the Government in Phnom Penh, we are genuinely interested in Cambodian independence.

Ambassador: Cambodian conditions are really very good.

Chien: We don’t discuss such relationships or even make suggestions.

Ambassador: We are opposed to expansionism in Southeast Asia.

Secretary: Expansionism? I agree.

Do you have any views or comments on my review?

Ambassador: Nothing in particular.

Secretary: I also wish to discuss the possibility of the President’s visit to China. We are thinking of the beginning of December, give or take a day or so. Specifically, the President might arrive on November 29th or 30th. For my trip, I would plan to go to China five or six weeks earlier than the President, around the 16th of October or so. And if these plans are convenient, we could first announce my visit, perhaps in mid-September, and then when I leave China we could announce the President’s trip.

Ambassador: We will report.

Secretary: Please confirm to my colleagues or me, if this is convenient.

Ambassador: We will report and tell your colleagues. Did you say your own trip would be around the 16th?

Secretary: Yes, the 15th or 16th.

Ambassador: For how long?

Secretary: Maybe three or four days. I think we should agree on the communiqué while I am there. It would be too precarious to leave it until the President’s trip. The President is also thinking of a stay of about four days. Of course, we are open to suggestions.

Ambassador: We would follow the old practice of making a joint announcement of the President’s trip at the end of your trip. Is that correct?

Secretary: Exactly.

[Page 726]

I should tell you that the President is also thinking of visiting a few other countries, not on the way to Peking but on the way home. He certainly would not visit India because of the situation there, but he probably will go to the Philippines, Australia, and possibly Indonesia.

Ambassador: Will he go to Singapore? I saw something in the press about his visiting Singapore.

Secretary: Certainly not. We cannot go to Singapore without going to Malaysia. We have no scheme to visit Singapore or Malaysia.

Ambassador: How definite is Indonesia?

Secretary: There is a good chance of stopping in Indonesia. We haven’t discussed these plans with any of the countries involved. In my own case, I have to get to a NATO meeting by the 11th of December. I know you wouldn’t want me to miss it.

Ambassador: Yes. You should help strengthen NATO. How about the situation in Turkey and Greece? What is happening on the southern flank of NATO?

Secretary: I have told many friends that China would be watching the southern flank even though it was far away, because I remember my conversation with Chairman Mao. What is happening is a total stupidity. I think we can get it reversed by mid-September when Congress returns.

Ambassador: Good.

Secretary: By then, there is also hope for an interim agreement in the Middle East.

Ambassador: Will you spend about ten days in the Middle East?

Secretary: A week to ten days.

Ambassador: I see that there are two Israeli delegations here.

Secretary: Yes. They are here right now to help us draft.

Ambassador: I understand one delegation is here about aid.

Secretary: Yes. We have held up aid matters. However, it has also been understood that we would give aid after the agreement was reached. The technical studies just happen to coincide with the arrival of the aid delegation.

Who is going to head your delegation to the UN General Assembly?

Ambassador: Even I do not yet know.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Convenience Files, 1969–1977, Box 39, Richard Solomon Subject Files, 1974–76. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Gleysteen.
  2. Marquis Childs was a prominent journalist. On August 14, Kissinger spoke before the Southern Commodity Producers Conference at Birmingham, Alabama. Kissinger’s address is printed in Department of State Bulletin, September 15, 1975, pp. 389–396.
  3. There had been reports of fighting between Vietnam and Cambodia. (“Vietnamese Forces Reported in Clash With Cambodians,”The New York Times, June 14, 1975, p. 1)
  4. Reports had reached the United States about the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh, slave labor, and mass starvation. (“Fleeing Cambodians Tell of Khmer Rouge Killings,”The Washington Post, July 21, 1975, p. A1)