143. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrey Andreyevich Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Ambassador of the USSR
  • Georgiy M. Korniyenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Vasiliy Makarov, Chef de Cabinet to the Foreign Minister
  • Yuly M. Vorontsov, Minister Counselor, Soviet Embassy
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Counsellor, Second European Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Interpreter)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • William G. Hyland, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department of State
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • FRG; Africa; U.S. politics; agrément for Toon; SALT; Middle East; MBFR; Law of the Sea; U.S.-Soviet maritime and civil aviation agreements; Iran

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks

Kissinger: Maybe we should say a few words about SALT.

Gromyko: Good.

[Page 641]

Kissinger: I know we owe you an answer. There are many complicated reasons for it. One is the difficulty of coming to clearcut decisions. But let me ask you this question: What is your reason against deferring some of the items—like seabased cruise missiles and Backfire—for later negotiations? Because if we could defer those, we could come to agreement fairly rapidly.

[Dessert is served.]

Is Mrs. Gromyko with you?

Gromyko: Yes, she’s my chief of staff, I told you.

Kissinger: Nancy sends her regards.

Gromyko: Thank you, and my best regards to Nancy.

Kissinger: Thank you.

Gromyko: What is this wine?

Waiter: California.

Gromyko: It’s very good. Why don’t they make propaganda for it?

Dobrynin: They do

Gromyko: We have always emphasized all the important questions should be resolved in a complex, without separating one or two of these important problems from the rest. You will recall which questions were discussed, and there was an exchange of statements about this, about treating them all as a complex. Especially in Geneva.

And we were in agreement. Which, in fact, is the one and only possible method of going about these solutions.

So we don’t think there is any good to come out of separating them. Let us abide by what is agreed. These considerations should reflect in our discussions.

Kissinger: Bill, do you want to say something?

Hyland: The point you made is there is a chance to make major progress on what was agreed at Vladivostok, between the President and the General Secretary. And we should take advantage of this. The remaining issues of cruise missiles and Backfire might be solved after Vladivostok is finished.

The Agreement we proposed in February2 would not work to the disadvantage of the Soviet Union, but would put substantial limits on American programs.

Gromyko: Are we moving to the other room now?

Kissinger: [rises] I wanted to say a few words.

[Page 642]

You and I have been meeting for many years now. As we look back on the years, we can say that on the whole U.S.-Soviet relations have progressed.

You will see in my speech tomorrow,3 except for some slight retaliations, I’ll call attention to the importance of our relationship, which is important to the peace of the world. We have differences of ideology, and because we are great powers we have differences of national interest. But we have special responsibilities for the peace of the world for reasons that we two countries can appreciate.

It is idle to deny there have been setbacks—some because of our domestic position, some because of what we see as unnecessary Soviet action.

But it is clear that the course on which we embarked in 1971 and 1972 was the correct one. And the future of the world depends on whether our two powers can find and continue a correct relationship.

On the personal level, I want to say I appreciate our working together, and I want to propose a toast to the friendship of our two countries. [Toast]

Gromyko: [rises in reply] It is extremely good to deliver two speeches in two days, yesterday in the General Assembly, and today at this table. But my consolation is this one will be shorter. [Laughter].

There are many problems that are to be discussed. I am ready to discuss those problems. On many of them, there are some aspects on which there is an understanding at least in principle. On others, there is not. But on those, an exchange of opinion must take place.

But on number 1—I had in mind the subject we just talked about—the impact of this problem is obvious. We believe it must be solved on the basis of the Vladivostok understanding. This is our position. From the beginning, we await your answer to our proposals. Several times it was postponed; I won’t count how many times it was postponed. It was not so simple; it was complicated in this country, for certain circumstances—but you know better than we how to cope with those circumstances.

The problems must be solved. The more important they are, the better the solutions will come from an exchange of views.

[Omitted here are Gromyko’s comments on the Middle East and U.S.-Soviet relations.]

Kissinger: If we could defer some items it would be easier to make progress.

[Page 643]

Gromyko: It won’t work to try and separate some of the issues from the others.

That approach is unacceptable. Let’s be brief and to the point. We have many other questions. We cannot accept an agreement that leaves open the bomber and cruise missiles.

Kissinger: Do you think if we would send some technical experts to Geneva and explain the advantages, you would change your mind?

Not all cruise missiles, only sea-based.

Gromyko: What will that do? I don’t think it would work. They couldn’t prove anything to us. I am treating that as a joke.

Kissinger: What is your answer to this argument? There are some weapons that are a grey area which can be used strategically but are not necessarily strategic—such as some of our cruise missiles and some of your bombers.

Gromyko: What exactly do you have in mind? If you mean our bomber, an appropriate explanation was given you [in January in Moscow] by the General Secretary. It is you that refer to that bomber and system that can be used strategically, but we rule that out.

Kissinger: I would suggest you discuss this question of deferral with the President.4 With more substantive arguments. Because I know the substantive arguments. Bill?

Hyland: It would be helpful.

Kissinger: You said you made certain concessions in Geneva as a package.

Gromyko: On an extremely important matter. The matter you said was the “most important.”

Kissinger: On the counting rules.

Gromyko: On the counting matter.

Kissinger: If you could point out the linkage you established then, because some of our people think it’s settled. Between us there is no misunderstanding. I’ve always understood some of the concessions made by the General Secretary were all linked to a satisfactory understanding on other issues.

Hyland: It might be helpful if you went over the January proposals, especially Brezhnev’s proposals.

Kissinger: If you could give a brief summary of where we stood in January, and the linkage, and your position on deferral.

[Page 644]

Gromyko: All this consumes some time.

Hyland: We have 90 minutes scheduled, but really it’s two hours.5

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger-Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 29, USSR, Gromyko File (33), 9/29/76. Secret; Nodis. All brackets, except those inserted by the editor to indicate omissions in the text, are in the original. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s suite in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Kissinger and Gromyko were attending the UN General Assembly session.
  2. See Document 132.
  3. The text of the Secretary’s speech to the UN General Assembly on September 30 is in the Department of State Bulletin, October 25, 1976, pp. 497–510.
  4. When Ford and Gromyko met on October 1 in Washington, Gromyko reiterated the Soviet position. The memorandum of conversation is in the Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, 1973–1977, Box 21. It is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XVI, Soviet Union, August 1974–December 1976, Document 292.
  5. Reference is to this conversation; no record of another meeting in New York has been found.