416. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei Gromyko, Soviet Foreign Minister
  • Viktor Sukhodrev, Soviet Foreign Ministry (Interpreter)
  • Secretary Henry A. Kissinger
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Middle East; US–GDR relations; Summit preparations; SALT; CSCE; MBFR; Trade; Brezhnev visit to Cuba; Pompidou and Brandt visits to USSR

[After a brief photo opportunity, the conversation began informally in the anteroom.]

Secretary Kissinger: I think we came out all right.

Minister Gromyko: When I talked with the General Secretary just before I left, he said it is all arranged on Zavidovo.

[Page 1191]

Secretary Kissinger: Good. It is a great place.

When I looked at the auspices question yesterday, I realized that you preferred what we would have preferred. I think we let the Egyptians maneuver between us. We had no interest in having UN auspices and we had a lot of trouble with the Israelis on this. We were lukewarm, and you were too, but neither of us wanted to take the responsibility for it.

I think the British and French were pushing it.

Minister Gromyko: Especially the French.

Secretary Kissinger: This is just for you: I’ve complained officially to the French for their behavior on the Middle East.

Minister Gromyko: Jobert never misses any forum to throw his arrows at us.

Secretary Kissinger: That is true.

Minister Gromyko: I asked him how many arrows he has sharpened for us!

[Vodka was served. Gromyko recommended a Belorussian vodka named for “bison herbs,” which prompted a discussion of bison, boar, and hunting.]

Secretary Kissinger: Can you go hunting in Zavidovo in the winter?

Minister Gromyko: Yes. I went just before I left Moscow for Geneva.

Secretary Kissinger: We’ll get the Israeli military delegation here by Tuesday,2 just to talk.

Bunker will be back on Thursday.3 I’ve talked to Eban; he’ll have an Ambassador here.

You were right. It’ll be better that way.

[The group then moved to the dining room for the luncheon. The main topics of the conversation over lunch were eating, drinking and hunting.]

Secretary Kissinger: Ambassador Dobrynin has a good cook. We know sooner or later we will lose him [Dobrynin].

Minister Gromyko: You’d prefer later rather than sooner.

Secretary Kissinger: From our point of view. He is intelligent, reliable, a good friend of the United States.

[Page 1192]

Minister Gromyko: He played a role in the development of US–Soviet relations.

Secretary Kissinger: The Arab world is very new to me, Mr. Foreign Minister. I’ve no experience with it.

Minister Gromyko: You never dealt with them before?

Secretary Kissinger: I have never been in an Arab country and never had much dealings with them. I frankly thought I could get through my term of office and let someone else do it. To be honest. Now that I have started, I will finish it and with enthusiasm.

Minister Gromyko: It is an extremely complicated world.

Secretary Kissinger: Extremely. And you can’t count on every word they say. [Laughter]

Minister Gromyko: Should I comment or not?

Secretary Kissinger: [Laughter] No. That is why we should communicate; otherwise the confusion will be total.

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

Minister Gromyko: Tomorrow I have to repay my courtesies to the Egyptian Foreign Minister and I invited him to come over in the afternoon to discuss some matters connected with the Middle East conference. So I leave the day after tomorrow, in the morning.

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

[Minister Gromyko:] Now, as regards the problem of the agenda for the next Summit—and the agenda for the discussions with you, as your meeting will be in the context of preparations for the Summit—I would like to add a few words in addition to what we discussed at the UN General Assembly and when I was in Washington and met with the President.

[Both drank glasses of cognac].

Secretary Kissinger: I am amazed [at his drinking]! Training!

Minister Gromyko: What comes to mind in this respect—and this is something I talked about in great detail with General Secretary Brezhnev—we’ll be at that time at a certain point as far as the Middle East is concerned. So certainly this has to be on the agenda as a major item.

Secretary Kissinger: No question. And in much better conditions than last time. Because if there is progress, so much the better, and if there is no progress, it will be all the more important for our two leaders to break the deadlock.

Minister Gromyko: We should put out of our head talk of no progress.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree. There will be progress, and we will be able to envisage the final outcome by then. There will be progress by the Spring.

[Page 1193]

Minister Gromyko: That is something that must be achieved.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree. It will be a much better discussion than last time.

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

Secretary Kissinger: Of course. I want to thank you for not only the fact of this information but the spirit. Especially on the Middle East. It is more reliable if we talk to each other instead of learning from the Egyptians.

Minister Gromyko: I appreciate the spirit in which you receive it.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 71, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Gromyko 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place in the Soviet Mission. All brackets except those that indicate omitted material are in the original.
  2. December 25.
  3. Bunker, who was also negotiating the Panama Canal Treaty, left Geneva on December 24 and did not return, but accompanied Kissinger on his Middle East trip in January 1974.