240. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Fifth and Last Plenary Meeting Between President Carter and President Brezhnev


  • U.S.
  • The President
  • Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance
  • Secretary of Defense Harold Brown
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • General David Jones
  • Mr. Hamilton Jordan
  • General G. Seignious
  • Mr. Frank Moore
  • Ambassador Malcolm Toon
  • Mr. Joseph Powell
  • Mr. Reginald Bartholomew
  • Mr. Jerrold Schecter
  • Mr. Wm. D. Krimer, Interpreter
  • U.S.S.R.
  • President L.I. Brezhnev
  • Foreign Minister A.A. Gromyko
  • Marshal D.F. Ustinov
  • Mr. K.U. Chernenko
  • Deputy Foreign Minister G.M. Korniyenko
  • Marshal N.V. Ogarkov
  • Ambassador A.F. Dobrynin
  • Mr. A.M. Aleksandrov-Agentov
  • Mr. L.M. Zamyatin
  • Mr. V.G. Komplektov
  • Mr. A.M. Vavilov
  • Mr. V.M. Sukhodrev, Interpreter

President Carter said that President Brezhnev and he had agreed between them that this meeting would be brief, to enable them to get back on schedule and be on time for the signing ceremony.

The President said he considered this conference in Vienna to have been very satisfactory to him personally, to our nation and, he hoped, to the Soviet Union and the world at large. The signing of the SALT II [Page 954] Treaty in a few minutes will be a historic contribution to world peace. The President expressed his gratitude to Brezhnev for his leadership role in making this achievement possible. His own hope and belief is that the SALT II Treaty will be a basis on which it will be possible more expeditiously to conclude discussions leading to agreement between our two countries on many other matters. At their private meeting this morning he and President Brezhnev had agreed to increase the frequency of meetings between them, and had extended mutual invitations to visit their respective countries. The President looked forward to the opportunity of exchanging visits without having to wait for a crisis or some other momentous event, simply for the purpose of routine discussions of issues and for the purpose of understanding each other better. The President also remarked that he and Brezhnev had agreed that the two Presidents at such routine meetings would be in a position to correct the mistakes that would inevitably be made by their Foreign Ministers. (Foreign Minister Gromyko protested vigorously.)

The President said that he and Brezhnev had agreed that in the relations between our nations they would never act in such a way as to threaten peaceful relations between the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union. In order to avoid misunderstandings between our countries, they will also continue their personal correspondence to keep each other informed of questions of mutual interest. Finally, they both greatly valued the statements each had made and had listened to each other with great care. Both had agreed to examine each other’s statements with additional care when they returned home. Each had in particular remarked on the substantive conformity of and correlation between the plans Brezhnev had suggested for future arms talks and the ideas on arms control the President had put forward. He hoped they would be able to build on these without further delay as they moved toward SALT III. To summarize, the President said he was grateful for the progress achieved and hoped to continue making progress in their common work in the future.

Reading from a prepared statement, Brezhnev noted that he and President Carter had the same view—that conclusion of the SALT II Treaty should generate more favorable conditions and, he would say, a more favorable climate for solving other problems of Soviet-American relations.

[Omitted here is Brezhnev’s statement on the need for better U.S.–USSR bilateral ties, institutional contacts, and regularization of trade. Brezhnev complained that “discriminatory legislation” had brought these contacts and trade to “a state of stagnation.” Carter responded that he did not have time to respond to Brezhnev’s points, [Page 955] since they must shortly sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, but he would have Secretary Vance investigate the problems.]2

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 37, Memcons: President: 6/79. Secret; Nodis. The conversation took place at the Soviet Embassy. Drafted by Krimer on June 21.
  2. The Joint Communiqué issued on June 18 in Vienna is printed in Public Papers: Carter, 1979, Book I, pp. 1081–1087.