165. Conversation Between President Nixon and West German Chancellor Brandt1

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

Nixon: Allow me to brief you here on SALT. We—well, with—the joint announcement2 indicated an intention to try to seek, this year, eliminating of ABMs and on some offensive weapons. Now, the two are linked. The two must be simultaneous. The reason why you—why different language was used in the communiqué [unclear] Moscow and Washington, is that the ABM system, of course, is one [unclear] whereas if you’re only biting off a part of the offensive—for example, ICBMs—you’re leaving out air power, you’re—I mean, airplanes—you’re leaving out submarines—

Brandt: Hmm.

Nixon: —of course, and the rest. Now, there’s a lot of hard negotiating to go on. It will start again in July and August sessions. But, a lot of preliminary negotiation has already taken place. I think the hope, at the present time, the prospects—now, I would say they were prospects at present, despite anything that’s said publicly, are that some kind of agreement will be reached—perhaps this year. I’d say that’s the prospect. Now, you can never be sure, just as you can’t be sure about Berlin—

Brandt: Hmm.

Nixon: —but, in this field, this agreement—now, the reason this is, of course, terribly important. I was saying to the Chancellor earlier, that even though, even though our—which, of course, our Soviet friends are always saying: “There is no linkage. We never talk about linkage,” if they will make progress on SALT, that makes it more likely that we make progress on Berlin.3

[Page 513]

Brandt: Um-hmm.

Nixon: If, on—and, on the other side of the coin, if we’re able to make progress on Berlin, it makes it more likely that we make progress on SALT.

Brandt: Um-hmm.

Nixon: So, we—we, therefore, have a common interest, it seems to me, in making progress. The other thing I should say about SALT, though: that you can be very sure that nothing is being done—I mean, in any way, in any way—that is not mutual, that will not be simultaneous. And, it will—it will, of course, that will, in any way, weaken our own position in the alliance. I mean, that’s all—

Brandt: Yes.

Nixon: —that’s [unclear]. But, we are moving forward, and it’s hopeful.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 520–6. No classification marking. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met with Brandt from 11:02 a.m. to 12:34 p.m. Kissinger and the West German State Secretary for Foreign, Defense, and German Policy, Egon Bahr, joined the discussion at 11:13 a.m. Kissinger left at 12:30. (Ibid., White House Central Files) The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume. For portions of the conversation related to Germany, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Document 254.
  2. See Document 160.
  3. At 2:30 p.m. on June 15 Nixon, Kissinger, and Dobrynin met in the Oval Office, at the Soviet Ambassador’s request, to deliver a message from the Soviet Government for a five-power nuclear conference. According to a memorandum prepared by Kissinger, Dobrynin asked: “What do you think of US/Soviet relations in general?” Nixon replied: “We can make a breakthrough on SALT and Berlin, and then our whole post-war relations will be on a new basis. The whole relationship can, indeed, be on a new basis.” (Memorandum for the President’s files; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 491, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 6 [Part 1]) The full text is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIII, Soviet Union, October 1970–September 1971, Document 260.