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219. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Nixon1


  • Secretary Kissinger’s Initial Report From Moscow

The following is Secretary Kissinger’s first report from Moscow which he requested that I forward to you:

Brezhnev and I held a preliminary two hour meeting this evening in the Kremlin on the Middle East,2 and we will get down to negotiations tomorrow.

He began by underlining in glowing terms his relationship with you and the importance of U.S.–Soviet relations. Your letter to him3 today clearly had a positive effect, although he is construing it to mean that I have full power and no right to refer back to you. Your other message to me4 on what to say arrived too late for this meeting. The major theme of his presentations was that our two countries have a responsibility to maintain the peace, specifically now in the Middle East, by implication on a broader scale. In this regard he was very sensitive to our domestic critics of détente, reacting strongly to the mention of Senator Jackson, and pointing out the irresponsibility of the opponents of our policy. He also took his customary jabs at the Chinese, citing their slandering of the two super powers. I in turn played on his concern for our bilateral relationship by stressing the importance of a quick Middle East settlement so as to demonstrate to our critics the concrete benefits of détente.

He moved immediately to the Middle East situation saying that it had reached a “very acute” stage. He stressed that our discussions should not be affected by the tactical military situation, perhaps reflecting apprehension of the Israeli advances. He noted the deep differences between the Arabs and Israelis but said that this should be no obstacle to our two countries’ finding a solution. He then invited my [Page 631]comments on their three part resolution which we received on Thursday5 night.

I gave him our preliminary reactions, saying that we would be prepared to negotiate specific language tomorrow (Sunday). The first point was basically acceptable and was only a drafting problem. The third point was also generally acceptable with a somewhat more complex drafting problem. I said that our major difficulty was with point two; however, with a constructive attitude on both sides, I thought it might be possible to make progress. I also made a sharp reference to their massive supplies to the Arabs.

Brezhnev showed great interest in their proposed side understanding on U.S.–Soviet guarantees. He explained that they meant guaranteeing both the negotiating process and the actual settlement, the United Nations being powerless. I said that we were prepared to consider this approach.

Brezhnev agreed to begin concrete negotiations tomorrow. We will meet at 11:00 Moscow time and continue without interruption. I see very tough negotiations ahead of us, particularly on point two of their draft resolution. It is therefore too early to tell whether we can reach a resolution, although his attitude on our bilateral relations suggests we may have an even chance.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 69, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 20, [October 12–November 21, 1973]. Secret. Sent for information. A notation by Scowcroft reads: “Pres has seen.”
  2. The memorandum of conversation of this October 20 meeting is ibid., Box 76, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Kissinger Trip to Moscow, Tel Aviv, and London, October 20–22, 1973.
  3. Document 217.
  4. See Document 218.
  5. October 18. See Document 202.
  6. In telegram Tohak 56/WH32586, October 21, Scowcroft informed Kissinger that he had passed his report to the President, who “was in a much more subdued mood than yesterday and appeared very relaxed with respect to the Middle East issue.” Nixon remarked that if anyone could handle Brezhnev it was Kissinger and noted that his message to Brezhnev was designed to be helpful and certainly did not inhibit the Secretary from saying that he had to consult with the President prior to making a commitment. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 39, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Moscow, Tel Aviv, London, TOHAK 1–60, Oct. 20–23, 1973)