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204. Message From President Nixon to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev1

The President has received with appreciation the oral message from General Secretary Brezhnev2 containing his reflections about the situation in the Middle East. We also appreciated being informed about the trip of Premier Kosygin to Cairo. We hope soon to hear his conclusions.

As the General Secretary is aware, the President and the Secretary of State have used all their influence to prevent the destruction of what has been achieved with so much effort. I agree that it is “necessary to talk about the future.” Let me do so candidly.

I am convinced that the Soviet proposal of October 103 calling for a cease-fire in place was a very statesmanlike act. It provided the basis for a reasonable solution to the fighting while at the same time giving the greatest possibility for negotiations to follow. I only hope that Egypt will not come to regret having failed to seize the opportunity to secure its gains by its refusal to go along on October 13.4

We share the General Secretary’s view that what is going on in the Middle East is “a test of the determination of both our powers to strictly adhere to the course they took in their relations and in international affairs.” For our part, we want to continue to build on the important understandings that have been achieved between us as a result of the two meetings at the Summit. This crisis can and must lead to cementing the relationship between us.

The situation in the Middle East is indeed complex, as the General Secretary indicates. We each have special relationships with various states in the area and both of us are in a position to influence the situation. We say this particularly mindful of the fact that, provided we are able to achieve a ceasefire that brings with it the beginning of a process towards a fundamental settlement, there will exist new opportunities for bringing about a durable and just peace.

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A new situation will have developed in the area, not based on the supremacy of one party over the other. We expect this new reality to erase the humiliation which the Arabs felt over the defeat of 1967. It will also bring about a more reasonable attitude on the part of the parties and offer hope that more than a respite between two wars can be achieved.

The President wishes to stress that he will engage himself fully to help produce a just and honorable settlement. The détente between the United States and the Soviet Union will remain incomplete unless peace is achieved in the Middle East and both of us have played a cooperative role in achieving it.

In the days ahead we will be doing a good deal of thinking about the substance of this matter, and we will wish to exchange further views with you. We expect that once this conflict has been brought to an end, the need for a durable settlement will have become more firmly rooted with both sides. We will bend every effort in this direction. In the context of the new realities, our influence will be both constructive and effective. The concrete content to be given to these efforts should be the subject of further exchanges in this channel.

The President wishes to stress the great importance he attaches to the further improvement of US–Soviet relations.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 70, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Exchange of Notes Between Dobrynin & Kissinger, Vol. 7. No classification marking. The message is attached to a note marked Exclusively Eyes Only from Eagleburger to Scowcroft. A handwritten notation at the top of the message reads: “Joe Pizzano (Sit Rm) delivered original to Soviet Embassy, 10:30 p.m., 10–18–73.”
  2. See Document 202.
  3. See Document 149.
  4. See Document 175.