[Page 1196]

418. Memorandum for the President’s File by Secretary of State Kissinger1

SUBJECT

  • Meeting with Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, in the Oval Office, Wednesday, December 26, 1973, 10:35–11:29 a.m.

PARTICIPANTS

  • The President
  • Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin
  • Secretary of State Kissinger

The President greeted Ambassador Dobrynin during a photo opportunity.

The President began the conversation by remarking on the vote in the Congress on the Trade Bill which prohibited MFN for the Soviet Union on grounds of restricted emigration. It was a “miserable vote.” The opponents of MFN were American Jewish groups and others who were hawks in the Middle East and doves in Viet Nam. The opponents thought better relations between the Soviet Union and the United States served parochial interests. The Europeans too, were now attacking détente. But the United States and the Soviet Union were the two nations that mattered in the world today. It may not last, the President suggested. But we must take the responsibility. Ambassador Dobrynin asked, Why be so pessimistic?

The point of the matter, the President continued, was that we had to understand that the shape of the world would be determined by our two countries. Such matters as arms control in Europe were very much determined by us. The United States and the Soviet Union must come out working together in a world where the two superpowers can organize the world.

The newspapers did not reflect his views, the President continued. The course on which we were now embarked was irreversible.

Our decisions were so important, because of the danger of miscalculation. “Maybe we made a mistake in October,” the President said, “maybe you did.” But it was an interesting thing, with Jackson and with the liberals all moving to the right.

[Page 1197]

The main thing was the shape of the world, the peace of the world. General Secretary Brezhnev must have his own problems. The American press was creating the impression that we could not succeed. Communication between our two sides could help the peace of the world. There were different kinds of opportunities for different countries. For our part, “we will continue to work together.”

Ambassador Dobrynin thanked the President for his remarks. The President had just covered the whole gamut. The Ambassador wanted to mention his analysis of the situation including our domestic situation. It was important to keep our relationship on a frank and good basis. He wanted to keep it on a personal basis.

On the Middle East, the Ambassador said that we agreed on the main points and he did not want to go into detail. A crisis should not occur. Both governments should work together in close cooperation and should not let the opposing sides in the conflict pit us against each other. The Soviet side was going to see to it very carefully that foreign policy would not pit us against each other. General Secretary Brezhnev gave instructions to Gromyko that he should work closely together with the United States, and there was very good cooperation at the Geneva Peace Conference.

The President emphasized one point he wanted to make to the Ambassador—that we must not be in conflict and we must not have one side try to drive the other out. That was a short-sighted view. The Ambassador agreed. It went without saying that that approach must not be used by either side. He looked forward to close cooperation as the negotiations proceeded. He wanted to mention once again that as the Soviet side evaluated the situation, the task was to make progress on implementing Security Council Resolution 339. Ambassador Dobrynin complimented Secretary Kissinger for bringing the parties together.

“I will deliver the Israelis,” the President declared. “It will be done.”

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

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 72, Country Files, Europe, USSR, U.S.–USSR, Presidential Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.