145. Editorial Note

On May 1–2, 1973, West German Chancellor Brandt visited Washington for talks with President Nixon. Among the topics for discussion were the European security conference and mutual balanced force reductions. In an undated memorandum to Nixon regarding the visit, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger wrote: “Bilateral Ostpolitik is at the end of the beginning. The Chancellor is talking more about multilateralizing it, by which he means the Federal Republic’s participating influentially in the MBFR and CSCE negotiations with the East. The strategic target of his Eastern policy has always been the GDR. This policy has aimed at creating circumstances which will enable the two Germanies to reunify or confederate some day in some way. For all the apparent Eastern policy success, however, progress toward this ultimate goal has been slow. Indeed, by signing a ‘Basic Treaty’ with the GDR late last fall, accepting it as a state, and agreeing to its membership in the UN, Brandt may have defeated his long-term purpose. The East Germans are steadfastly resisting a closer relationship. The West Germans count on Brezhnev to put pressure on his GDR [Page 450] ally. This is a familiar situation, and it must tempt Brandt to offer concessions to Moscow—perhaps in the CSCE context. Brezhnev will see these and probably others in the economic field. You may wish to caution Brandt against breaking Western ranks in East-West negotiations, even on an issue as vital to German national aspirations as the GDR. The Chancellor’s imminent meeting with Brezhnev will heighten his interest in our policies toward the Soviets. He is mistrustful of their aims in Europe, but he has engaged them for his own ends. He is concerned about our SALT negotiations, our MBFR positions, and the continuing post-Moscow Summit momentum in US-Soviet relations generally. You will want to explain to him how you relate our bilateral relations with the Soviets in SALT and on other issues to the wider East-West negotiating in MBFR and the CSCE.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 297, Memoranda to the President, 1973, May, Folder 1)

Brandt and Nixon discussed the CSCE and MBFR during a meeting in the Oval Office on May 1 at 10:45 a.m. A memorandum of their conversation reads in part: “Brandt then described his agenda for the summit meeting with Brezhnev. It would deal mostly with bilateral technical matters, and would call for more political consultation. Brezhnev also had sent a note calling for a meeting of heads of state for the finale of the European Security Conference. Chancellor Brandt was dubious about the desirability of this. The President remarked that he was dubious about the Security Conference. The Chancellor said he believed they have proceeded not too badly. The Conference had an integrating effect in bringing Europeans together.” The memorandum reported Brandt’s further comments: “The objective of Brezhnev, the Chancellor continued, may be to divide the US and Europe. But the alliance was our top priority. We should not allow our summits to undo it. NATO was a guarantee for the stability of the Warsaw Pact, however, because ending NATO would also mean the end of the Warsaw Pact. Minister Bahr commented that the Soviets now accept the US role in Europe. They have now accepted the US as an organic part of the European Security Conference, and in MBFR, etc. The President asked for the Chancellor’s views on MBFR. The Chancellor said he didn’t know too much about it, but he favored cutting some indigenous forces along with stationed forces.” (Memorandum for the President’s Files, May 1; ibid., Box CL 138, Geopolitical File, Europe, Year of Europe, Memoranda of Conversation)

In advance of Brandt’s arrival, West German Minister for Special Tasks Bahr met with Kissinger and National Security Council staff member Sonnenfeldt on April 30 to discuss CSCE, MBFR, and other topics. No record of their conversation has been found. For a German record of the conversation, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1973, Volume I, pages 610–614.