56. Message From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon1

Dear Mr. President,

You have already been informed, of course, by Dr. Kissinger of the talks we had with him in Moscow. On my part, I feel that the exchange of opinion which took place, was useful, from the point of view of [Page 172]moving ahead in the questions that will be the subject of our discussions during my visit to the US next June.

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

As for the international problems, we always believed that one of the most critical issues is that of the Middle East. And now great dangers are in wait of us in the Middle East. The developments there can take such a turn which neither we, nor—I believe—you would like to happen. We frankly expressed to Dr. Kissinger our appraisal of the present situation. Our statements might have sounded quite blunt to Dr. Kissinger, yet the bluntness is dictated by the explosiveness of the situation itself.

In the conversation with Dr. Kissinger it was said—and I would like to repeat it to you personally—that if the main question of withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Arab territories occupied in 1967, is settled, then all the other questions, including those of the security of Israel and of other countries of the region, can be solved; frankly speaking, they will not then be an obstacle for the settlement. And it is the leaders of Israel themselves who constantly maintain, that those are the very questions, i.e. the questions of security, which concern them.

Dr. Kissinger also offered a number of considerations on how, in the US opinion, it would be possible to act further on the questions of the Middle East settlement. Certain ideas, expressed by him, went, in our view, in the direction of facilitating the search of a solution of the main question—that of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied Arab territories. But, frankly speaking, there is a lack of completeness here. We hope that necessary clarity will be added to the US position on this question when we receive the communication from you on that matter, as was promised by Dr. Kissinger, within 7 or 10 days after his return to Washington.

We, on our part, are prepared to work on the Middle East problem, sparing neither time nor efforts, before my visit to the US. There may not be any doubt that the fixation at our meeting of exact and clear understanding between ourselves regarding the ways of the Middle East settlement on a just and solid basis would be another major milestone both in the relations between our countries and in the normalization of the world situation as a whole. I believe that this is a feasible task and the achievement of such mutual understanding would undoubtedly give a due impetus to the peaceful settlement in the Middle East and to the working out by the parties concerned of concrete measures of its implementation.

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

In conclusion, I would like once more to note the constructiveness of the talks with Dr. Kissinger and the atmosphere of frankness, in which they were held and which increasingly characterize our rela[Page 173]tions. The talks were a useful prelude to the important negotiations which we shall have with you in the month of June.2

Sincerely,

L. Brezhnev3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 72, Country Files, Europe, USSR, BrezhnevNixon Exchanges, 1973. No classification marking. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Handed to HAK by D[obrynin], 1:00 p.m., 5/15/73.”
  2. On May 16, Nixon replied, saying that he had noted the General Secretary’s comments in his May 13 letter concerning forthcoming negotiations including the Middle East problem. He promised to address these important matters in a subsequent message. (Ibid., Box 940, VIP Visits, General Secretary Brezhnev Visit to USA, June 1973, Briefing Book [1 of 2])
  3. The original bears this typed signature.