124. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Dobrynin’s Papers on MBFR and CSCE;2 Other Topics for Talk with Dobrynin:
  • SALT, Science Commission


Dobrynin gave you an advance copy of the Soviet reply to our note.3 It contains the following points and problems.



The Soviets will propose Vienna, while we proposed Geneva. While Vienna poses no particular problem, this is calculated to serve two aims: it precludes Vienna as the future site of any CSCE work. Second, the Soviets propose that Austria issue the invitations to the initial MBFR talks, which means that they will be willing to fall in with the Soviet scheme of inviting “all Europeans” (see below).

We can go along with Vienna, but this is almost certain to set off a wrangle in NATO.



There are two aspects: 1) who participates in the initial talks, and 2) who participates in the reductions.

  • —The Soviets accept our list of participants, including the “rotating observers” for the initial talks.
  • —They advocate that “all Europeans” should have the right to participate in the initial talks on an equal basis.
  • —Dobrynin’s talking points4 state that they should be invited to express their views for “tactical reasons” presumably to placate Romania, Yugoslavia, etc.
  • —On the actual negotiations, the Soviets argue, as we do, that participation should not prejudge which countries will be involved in reductions.
  • Dobrynin, therefore, proposes a “working body” of states (Benelux, FRG, Canada, US and UK; and the GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and USSR) that would be the states whose forces would be reduced. This excludes Hungary.

In short, the Soviets want us to agree that the Austrians can invite all European states to the initial talks, and to agree in private that the actual reduction areas exclude Hungary.


Agenda, Procedures at Initial Talks

The note states that the purpose of the initial talks is to discuss matters of organization, procedures, determination of participants, time and site, and working out of proposals regarding the agenda.

This is acceptable to us.


French Participation:

The talking points, but not the note, state that the possibility of French participation in the “working body” should be foreseen.5 This implies that French forces would be reduced, since the working body is composed of those states whose forces are to be considered for reduction.

Your Response

You should raise some hell for their delay in replying especially since they have raised some thorny procedural problems.

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  • —We are opposed to a blanket invitation of all European states. That is why at the summit and in September we held out for “Central Europe.”
  • —While Vienna may be alright, we had reasons to believe from the Soviets and other Warsaw Pact States that Geneva posed no problems; it is far more convenient for all concerned.
  • Possible compromise: to drop the idea of inviting all European states to the initial talks, and to work out some formula that will allow them to make an appearance at the actual negotiations.
  • —If the Soviets start a long squabble over participation, we will have to slow down the Helsinki CSCE talks, since it was your understanding in Moscow that we would start in Helsinki last November if we had a guarantee of MBFR starting on January 31.
  • —Since it appears from the Soviet documents that Moscow is seeking to exclude Hungary from a possible agreement, we could compromise by 1) including Hungary in the working body of the negotiations, but 2) that this would not mean that we prejudge whether or not Hungary would be included in reductions. We want the eventual negotiations to consider a variety of possible reduction schemes and not prejudge the geographical area now.

(HAK Note: The formal Soviet note, as distinct from D’s “talking points,” does not engage the issue of Hungary directly. But it clearly will be an issue in the preparatory talks if the Soviets insist on excluding Hungary from the working body that their note says they want to agree on in the preliminary talks.)

MBFR Agenda

Depending on how you judge the tactical situation you may want to give Dobrynin the paper at Tab A which lists the topics that we think should be considered by the main MBFR negotiating body next fall, i.e., the agenda. You should point out that the topics are phrased in a neutral manner and are designed to facilitate systematic discussions of all the issues. You should caution Dobrynin that not all Western countries see the eventual outcome of negotiations the same way and the Soviets should therefore be prepared for speeches in the preparatory talks that may not be wholly consistent with each other.

(HAK Note: The list of topics is taken directly from the “guidelines and agenda paper” developed laboriously in NATO.)6

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Dobrynin gave you a document on the agenda,7 and a draft of a declaration.8


The Soviets have re-formulated two agenda items in an apparent attempt to take into account our positions. As a result their formulation and the Western position have come fairly close.

A. Security

  • “On ensuring European Security and on principles of relations between states in Europe, including certain measures of strengthening stability and confidence.” (Soviet)
  • “Questions of Security, including principles guiding relations between the participants and appropriate measures aimed at strengthening confidence and increasing stability with a view to reducing the dangers of military confrontation.” (Western proposal)

On this item, the Soviets have a apparently accepted our two confidence building measures: advance notification of maneuvers and invitational exchanges of observers at maneuvers.9

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3. Human Contacts

“On the expansion of cultural cooperation, contacts between organizations and people and on dissemination of information.” (Soviet)10

“Development of human contacts, broadening of cultural and educational exchanges and wider flow of information.” (Western)

You should say

We are quite close on these two agenda items. We also are close on the economic cooperation item.

—It is only a matter of some drafting changes, which could be accomplished by the delegation in Helsinki.

—We will work for an acceptable statement of both agenda items.

CSCE Declaration

The Soviet draft is fairly mild and poses no insurmountable problems for us. It bears down heavily on recognition of borders, and, most important, includes the establishment of periodic conferences and a “Consultative Committee” to prepare future conferences and for political consultations.

A major issue will be the European desire, including some of the Warsaw Pact, to strengthen this document to refute the Brezhnev doctrine. Also, they will want some statement on human contacts (i.e., freer movement).

From our standpoint, we could probably live with much of this Soviet draft as the eventual outcome of the CSCE —and it bears some resemblance to a French draft11 already tabled for discussion in NATO.

You should say

We need to study this in some detail, and talk to our Allies.

  • —We assume the French have this.12 Do the Soviets intend to table this in Helsinki or to work with us privately (we would prefer that they table it)?
  • —Are they going to work with the French on this document?
  • Ask him whether they expect us to give them in your channel a counterdraft.
  • —Is this the Soviet equivalent to our “mandates,” or will they table their versions of these as well?

(Note: It is important to determine the disposition of this document so we can make some plans on how to work in the Alliance.

You should give Dobrynin the paper we drafted on CSCE which lays out the issues we can work on with the Soviets (Tab B).13

I believe this paper remains valid even though we have received the Soviet texts in the meantime. In particular, you should note the way in which we are trying to compromise the issue of post-conference machinery (included as paragraphs XI a. and b., in the Soviet “General Declaration”). Incidentally, Dobrynin’s “talking points” do not raise this issue, presumably because you had not had a chance to discuss it yourself with Dobrynin.

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

Tab A14

Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions

Items for Inclusion on the Agenda for Negotiations

Area or Areas: Delineation of Geographic Aspects of Negotiations.
Phasing: Timing and Stages in which Measures Might be Agreed and/or Carried Out.
Principles: Principles and Criteria.
Constraints: Arrangements to Enhance Stability and to Reduce the Danger of Miscalculation of the Intentions of Either Side and of Reducing Fear of Surprise Attack.
Forces: Determination of Forces to be Addressed.
Size and Methods of Reductions.
Verification: Means of Providing Assurances of Compliance with Obligations Assumed under an Agreement.

Date and Venue: Agreement on a site and on a date in the period between mid-September and October 9, for the start of negotiations.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 214, Geopolitical File, Soviet Union, Dobrynin, Anatoliy, Background Papers (“Talkers”), Jan. 1972–Feb. 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. The memorandum is misdated January 17, 1972. Kissinger wrote at the top of the memorandum: “CSCE—Who knows? How do we handle? Procedurally[,] mandates?” A third handwritten comment by Kissinger is illegible. At the bottom of the first page Kissinger wrote: “MFN—when will it be introduced?”
  2. Attached but not printed are three papers from Dobrynin delivered to Kissinger’s office on January 16. Dobrynin labeled the papers by hand: “talking points with Dr. Kissinger (all-European conference),” “talking points with Dr. Kissinger (on reduction of armed forces),” and “text of Soviet reply on reduction of armed forces (not yet handed to the State Department).” Dobrynin discussed the papers with Kissinger in two separate telephone conversations on January 16 at 7 a.m. and 7:10 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 17)
  3. See Document 119.
  4. Dobrynin’s attached talking points “on reduction of armed forces” read in part: “In our opinion, all European countries which would so desire should be also invited for tactical reasons to the negotiations themselves. These countries could be given an opportunity to express their views on major directions of solving the problem of reduction of armed forces and armaments in Europe. However, the decisions with regard to the substance of that problem should be taken only by those states which themselves will carry out the reductions.”
  5. Dobrynin’s talking points read in part: “Though France, as is known, does not express a desire at the present stage to reduce its armed forces in the FRG, nevertheless, in our opinion, the possibility for its membership in the working body should be foreseen, since France is a party to the Potsdam Agreements and its troops are stationed on the territory of the FRG.”
  6. Telegram 285 from USNATO, January 17, contained the text of CM(72), “Guidelines and Agenda Papers for Exploratory Talks on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Central Europe,” approved by the North Atlantic Council on January 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 6 EUR)
  7. Reference is to Dobrynin’s “talking points with Dr. Kissinger (all-European conference).”
  8. On January 15, a Soviet Embassy official hand-delivered to Kissinger’s office the Soviet draft “General Declaration on Foundations of European Security and Principles of Relations Between States in Europe.” The Soviet draft declaration is in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 77, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Moscow Trip, CSCE. Dobrynin informed Kennedy of the NSC staff in a telephone conversation at 8:10 p.m. on January 15 about the document’s forthcoming delivery: “This is a draft of the final document we would like to have adopted on the final stage of the European Security Conference. This was reintroduce [sic] Mr. Brezhnev to the President on a basis of confidential discussion in Moscow and then after Henry discussed with Mr. Brezhnev too this issue. So this is on a very confidential basis. We didn’t give it to the foreign office so don’t give it to the State Department.” Dobrynin reiterated, “It’s for Henry and the President.” (Ibid., Henry A. Kissinger Telephone Conversations (Telcons), Box 17, Chronological File)
  9. Dobrynin’s attached talking points on an “all-European conference” read in part: “With due regard for Dr. Kissinger’s observations, we would be prepared to consider, within the framework of the first point on the agenda, certain measures aimed at strengthening stability and confidence in Europe. By those measures we mean mutual notification of major military maneuvers in stipulated areas and of the exchange, by invitation, of observers at the maneuvers of that kind. The first point of the agenda of the all-European conference that we propose could be formulated as follows: ‘On ensuring European security and on principles of relations between states in Europe, including certain measures of strengthening stability and confidence.’ ”
  10. Dobrynin’s attached talking points on an “all-European conference” read in part: “We agree to single out questions of cultural cooperation, contacts among people, and of increased information as a separate point of the agenda of the all-European conference and we suggest the following language:’ On the expansion of cultural cooperation, contacts between organizations and people and on dissemination of information.’ It goes without saying that all that should be conditioned by strict respect for the sovereignty, laws, and customs of each country.”
  11. Not further identified.
  12. Dobrynin’s attached talking points on an “all-European conference” read in part: “We talked with President Pompidou along the same lines during the recent meeting with him and we intend to forward our considerations on the questions of preparing the all-European conference to Chancellor Brandt.” In his telephone conversation with Kennedy on January 15, Dobrynin said about the draft declaration: “But this particular [sic] was given to Pompidou when he met with Mr. Brezhnev and today we are forwarding on a very basis [sic]through our private, through our private channels to Chancellor Brandt—not through the foreign office, but through some private channels we have there.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 17, Chronological File)
  13. Printed as Tab A to Document 123.
  14. Top Secret. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Handed to Dobrynin by HAK, 1/17/73.”