[Page 650]

229. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • USSR
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Vasili V. Kuznetsov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Georgi M. Kornienko, Member of Collegium of Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to the United States
  • Victor M. Sukhodrev, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • USA
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for NEA
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff
  • Ambassador Robert McCloskey
  • William Hyland, NSC Senior Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

The Secretary and the Foreign Minister began by initialing the agreed US-Soviet understanding on the meaning of the phrase “under appropriate auspices” in paragraph 3 of Security Council Resolution 338. The text [at Tab A]2 was initialed in English and Russian copies.

The Secretary offered a second written understanding [Tab B] to confirm the agreement to use maximum influence with the parties to ensure an exchange of prisoners of war within 72 hours of the ceasefire. “This will help me in Israel,” the Secretary said. After a brief private conversation, it was agreed that a formal written understanding was not necessary. The Foreign Minister assured the Secretary that we had the personal commitment of Brezhnev. “I’ll take the word of the General Secretary,” Dr. Kissinger stated. “There is no need to sign.”

The group was then seated at the table, and breakfast was served.

Gromyko: At this breakfast you are the host.

Kissinger: I told you I once gave Brandt a lunch in his own house.

Gromyko: The next lunch I will give for you.

Kissinger: Good.

Gromyko: Another agreement reached!

[Page 651]

Sisco: Did you hear about Scali’s phone call about “practical fulfillment?” I had to explain it to him in the middle of the night. He said, “Did you discuss it?” I said, “We discussed it fully.”

Kissinger: One other question: Can I tell newsmen at the airport that I’m going [to Israel]? Would it be embarrassing?

Gromyko: Psychologically . . . It would be preferable if you not tell your destination from Moscow [laughing].

Kissinger: Then we do it from Washington.

Gromyko: I think it’s rather [better] psychologically.

Kissinger: Good.

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: Then I won’t say anything at the airport. Otherwise I’d be lying.

Gromyko: You should be enigmatic. [Laughing]

Dobrynin: Like a sphinx.

Kissinger: They will ask me, “Where are you going?” I’ll say, “It remains to be decided!”

The Chinese, when they were informed of this resolution by the President of the Security Council, McIntyre, were very angry. He [Huang Hua] pounded the table, I heard.

Gromyko: [rises] I offer a toast to what we accomplished yesterday and the day before and to all who accompanied you. [drinks toast]

Kissinger: [rises] Mr. Foreign Minister, we’ve negotiated many agreements. But even more than agreements, we’ve negotiated a relationship between our countries which is fundamental to peace in the world. What we’ve done in the last two days is important not only to the Middle East but to US–Soviet relations and our whole foreign policy. I therefore offer a toast to the Foreign Minister and all he has done for the friendship between our two countries and the peace of the world.

I also want to offer a toast of a personal nature. What we’ve accomplished couldn’t have been done without the contribution of your Ambassador in Washington, who—if it doesn’t ruin his position here—I must say is not only a distinguished Ambassador but a great personal friend.

Gromyko: We call him the Russian American. [Laughter]


Twenty years ago there was an interpreter at the UN named Sherry, who repeated every gesture of the speaker. If the speaker stretched his hand out like this [shakes his fist] he did it too. [Laughter]

Dobrynin: Once during a UN debate on the Congo . . .

Kuznetsov: It must be ten years ago.

[Page 652]

Dobrynin: A speaker gave a quote from Hamlet, “Everything is rotten in Denmark.” And the representative from Denmark got up and said, “He may know something about the Congo but he knows nothing about Denmark.” [Laughter]

Gromyko: I offer a toast to the President. [toast]

Kissinger: This isn’t strictly protocol, but I offer a toast to the General Secretary, who has done so much for US–Soviet relations.

Gromyko: Sometimes protocol must be subordinated to something substantial.

Kuznetsov: To something substantive.

Kissinger: To affection.

Gromyko: In Russia we keep the main toast to the last.

Kuznetsov: There is a difference between drinking and a toast. [Laughter]

Gromyko: When do you get back to Washington?

Kissinger: Midnight Washington time.

It [the visit to Israel] will be very important for the guarantee question. If we did it in Washington, there would be many exchanges. When it’s done I will let your Ambassador know in Washington.

Kuznetsov: It’s very important.

Kissinger: It’s also our preferred way of doing it.

[Phone call comes in for Sisco from Scali, Sisco goes out to receive it.]

The meeting [of the UN Security Council] started one hour late, but it finished in exactly three hours as we had planned. It was excellent example of cooperation.3

Gromyko: The French and Chinese were absent.

Kissinger: No, just China. The French voted for it.

[Page 653]

Sonnenfeldt: The French made a speech saying “auspices” meant the Security Council.

Kissinger: A number of countries offered their interpretation that it meant that.

Sisco: [comes back:] Malik and Scali have agreed that the UN Secretariat will send the resolution to Israel, Syria, and Egypt and as note verbale to others related to 242, such as Iraq, Syria, etc. as a matter of information. I think it’s a good idea. Doesn’t make any difference.

Gromyko: Right.

Kissinger: You should know that when we agreed to go to Israel, there were two conditions—they had to accept the resolution and there had to be substantial compliance with the resolution.

Gromyko: And they accepted.

Kissinger: They accepted. Because I didn’t want to be there if there was a violation going on.

Gromyko: Did any Arab representatives speak?

Kissinger: Zayyat spoke. We understand that Huang Hua was very angry until Zayyat told him that the non-committed wanted it adopted. He had been very angry.

You must have been in very active touch with your Arab friends yesterday.

Gromyko: We were in touch. We were in touch with some of them. With several of them.

Kissinger: Knowing how the Foreign Minister operates, I didn’t think he was entirely ignorant of their probable reaction. And so were we, but not with so many. Australia, Britain, France.

Gromyko: And you were in touch with the nonaligned bloc countries.

Dobrynin: The nonaligned bloc!

Kissinger: We told the Yugoslavs we would rather deal with hostile countries, who were less critical than the nonaligned. [Laughter] We should form a bloc of our own. [Laughter] Has there ever been a joint US–Soviet resolution at the Security Council before?

Sisco: I think there was on the non-proliferation treaty.

Sonnenfeldt: And General Assembly resolution Number 1 in 1946.

Kissinger: But it must be the first time that during a crisis the US and the Soviet Union joined in a resolution.

Gromyko: You are right.

Dobrynin: The United Nations was puzzled yesterday. They couldn’t find a way to oppose it!

Kissinger: I don’t know what the American press will say. When we were meeting, they were writing about détente being ruined.

[Page 654]

Gromyko: Are they good boys or bad boys?

Sisco: Today they’re good. [Laughter]

Kissinger: Tomorrow I’ll have a press conference and I have a certain ability to handle them.

Gromyko: We will have time to negotiate one more resolution.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 76, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Kissinger Trip to Moscow, Tel Aviv & London, October 20–22, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at the Guest House of the U.S. Delegation in Lenin Hills, Moscow. All brackets except those that indicate omitted material are in the original.
  2. Tabs A and B are attached, but not printed.
  3. In telegram 4119 from USUN, October 22, Scali reported that the Security Council had adopted the U.S.–Soviet draft as Resolution 338 without modification at 12:50 a.m. EDT by a vote of 14 to 0 with no abstentions. (China did not participate in the vote.) He added that the United Nations was cabling the resolution immediately to Egypt, Syria, and Israel and would communicate it shortly to the other combatant states. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1175, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, 1973 Middle East War, 22 October, 1973, File No. 17) For a summary of the proceedings in the Security Council, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1973, pp. 196–198. The text of the resolution reads in full: “The Security Council, 1. Calls upon all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately, no later than 12 hours after the moment of the adoption of this decision, in the positions they now occupy; 2. Calls upon the parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts; 3. Decides that, immediately and concurrently with the cease-fire, negotiations shall start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.” (Ibid., p. 213)