134. Editorial Note

On April 10, 1973, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger met with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin at 8:40 a.m. in the Map Room of the White House. Among the topics they discussed was the European security conference. Kissinger’s memorandum of their conversation reads in part: “Dobrynin then handed me a communication about the European Security Conference [Tab C], the gist of which was that progress had been disappointingly slow even though the Soviet Union had made major concessions. He wondered whether a more effective procedure might not be for him to meet with Rush [Page 414] periodically on European Security Conference matters. I told him that it would be better for Stoessel to meet with Vorontsov and then they could pass their problems on to Dobrynin and me.” The Soviet note complained that “the sluggishness and even, one may say, slackness with which the things are proceeding in Helsinki causes certain concern on our part.” It asserted “that there should be no problems when principles of relations between states, which have already been expressed in many recent multilateral and bilateral documents, including Soviet-American ones, are being agreed.” The note continued: “The Soviet side holds the position which facilitates agreement on the questions of the preparation of the conference, and it has repeatedly demonstrated that. We consented, for example, to include into the agenda the question of certain measures strengthening confidence and stability in Europe, and we worded it as it had been confidentially agreed between us through the talks between Dr. Kissinger and the Soviet Ambassador. We expect that we will work together with you so that the measures on strengthening confidence and stability, as it was agreed between us, should be limited to a provision on mutual notifications about major military maneuvers in stipulated areas and by a provision about the possibility to exchange upon invitation observers at the maneuvers of such kind.” The note concluded: “L.I. Brezhnev hopes that President Nixon would find it possible to keep the question of Helsinki consultations within the scope of his attention in order to promote by joint efforts their speedy completion.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 496, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 16, Pt. 2)

Dobrynin and Kissinger also discussed the European security conference in a telephone conversation the same day at 12:54 p.m. The two confirmed that Soviet Minister Counselor Yuli Vorontsov would meet with Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Stoessel to discuss matters relating to the conference. Kissinger told Dobrynin that “I talked to the President, and he will take what you said very seriously.” Their conversation continued: “D[obrynin]: [omission in transcript] about this European Conference, you know, because many of them, I mean your President, Brezhnev, Pompidou and Brandt, involved in their many international activities, so we’ve got to have some sort of schedule for consideration of President, Brandt, and [omission in transcript]. I tell you this for your guidance. Let’s put it on the calendar of our bosses, so to speak, the following. The first stage—the foreign ministers level. June 27 or 28. For a meeting period of ten days—what do you think? K[issinger]: Right. D: Second stage: This is [omission in transcript] work. The middle of July. K: Right. I understand. D: And work until the end of September. K: Right. D: So it’s July, August, September. And the third stage we come to is of the highest level. Around October or November, this would be schedule for governments to participate. [Page 415] Roughly speaking. K: Okay. D: I tell you this right now for your own—but this is what Brezhnev would like to tell directly to President. K: I’d appreciate that, we’ll appreciate that, and [it is?] not inconsistent with our own thinking. D: Just to put their mind into some kind of—because maybe they have some changes to make in the approximate—” (Ibid., Henry A. Kissinger Telephone Transcripts (Telcons), Box 19, Chronological File)

Following up the same day, the Soviet Embassy delivered a second message to Kissinger at 1:45 p.m. It proposed a timetable for the security conference: a first stage at the foreign minister level beginning on June 27 or 28, which would last “10–14 days”; a second stage for “committee work” beginning in the middle of July; and a third stage “at the highest level” to be held in October or November 1973. Dobrynin wrote to Kissinger in a note attached to the message: “As I told you, this message from L.I. Brezhnev goes also to President Pompidou and to Mr. Brandt.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 496, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 16, Pt. 2)