104. Telegram From the Embassy in Finland to the Department of State1

431. Department Pass White House. Subject: Talk with President Kekkonen. Policy.

Summary. President Kekkonen told me during a private talk that Soviet leadership seemed sincere in its relief that US and USSR could reach accord on problems of mutual interest. Kekkonen also impressed by President Nixonʼs imagination and courage in undertaking visits to Peking and Moscow.2 Kekkonen noted that there is an outstanding invitation to President Nixon to visit Finland and that Mrs. Nixon would be welcome alone if President were unable to come. End summary.
On March 21 I made a call on Finnish President Urho Kekkonen. Our discussion, which lasted close to an hour, touched on a variety of subjects but, as could be expected, dwelt primarily on East-West and Sino-Soviet-US relations. Kekkonen was friendly, outgoing and affable and seemed to be frank in conversation.
I was principally interested in obtaining President Kekkonenʼs assessment of the attitudes of the Soviet leadership on major world matters. Kekkonen is probably the Western head of state with the most frequent and intimate contacts with the Soviet leadership, having made 18 visits to the USSR since taking office in 1956 and having received Soviet leaders in Finland on a number of occasions. Most recently (February 26 and 27) he spent two days hunting with Brezhnev, Kosygin and Podgorny at Zavidovo, some 70 miles outside of Moscow, with only his military aides and an interpreter accompanying him.
US-Soviet relations. Kekkonen said it was his clear impression after his visit with the Soviet triumvirate that the Soviet leaders, regardless of such differences as may exist between the US and the USSR, sincerely believe that they and we share a real common interest in negotiating a solution of problems of mutual concern to the benefit of both and to the world. Kekkonen added that he shares this view.
US-Chinese relations. Kekkonen said that the Soviet leaders were closely following the course of President Nixonʼs visit to Peking which was going on during the hunting weekend. He said that his hosts had daily briefings on the Nixon visit at the hunting lodge. Although the Soviet leadership had obviously not yet arrived at a position on the Nixon trip to Peking, it was mentioned to Kekkonen by his hosts that the Soviets believe it is sometimes easier to deal with the United States than with the Chinese since we are more pragmatic.
Kekkonen commented to me that he was extremely impressed by the imagination and political courage of President Nixon evidenced by his trip to Peking and forthcoming visit to the Soviet Union. These initiatives of President Nixon, said Kekkonen, have already brought a significant and positive change in the world climate which has and should continue to have important ramifications for the future of all of us.
As our conversation drew to a close it turned to Kekkonenʼs visit in 1970 to Washington,3 and he commented that he had then extended an invitation to President Nixon to visit Finland. I remarked that Mrs. Nixon had at that time said to me that she would like very much to come to Finland, and President Kekkonen replied that he would be delighted to have Mrs. Nixon visit even without the President.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL FIN–US. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Moscow.
  2. President Nixon visited China February 17–28 and the Soviet Union May 22–30.
  3. See Documents 100 and 101.