151. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Michel Jobert, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador John Irwin II
  • Mr. Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff
  • Mr. Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

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

[Page 470]

Kissinger: I have told your Ambassador in substance about our talks with Brezhnev,2 but if you have any questions.

Jobert: You saw a lot of him.

Kissinger: Yes, 25 hours of talks, and 4 days in isolation at this hunting lodge.

Jobert: He is a jolly good fellow.

Kissinger: Not of great precision of mind. He is a nice man.

Jobert: Relatively open.

Kissinger: Yes, and probably committed to the improvement of relations, for whatever reason. We had a theoretical discussion about inviolability of borders and renunciation of force. We support the German position but saw no point in arguing with the Russians. It is basically between them and the Germans. They want a heads-of-government meeting at the end of the Security Conference. What is your view?

Jobert: We will wait and see.

Kissinger: That is our position.

Jobert: Brezhnev told us the last stage could be at Paris!

Kissinger: The Soviets gave us a draft declaration of the final outcome of the Conference.3

Jobert: I have not seen it.

Kissinger: You have one. With the permission of the Soviets, we gave it to the British. We would like to take it out of our channel and put it into regular channels.

Jobert: Are you empassioned with this Conference?

Kissinger: No! Our only difference with the Europeans is we want to get it over with quickly. Our feeling is that the more time we invest in it, the more significance it will seem to have. Our aim is to limit the damage, not to see some positive good from it.

Jobert: You want to see it happen in June?

[Page 471]

Kissinger: Only because of our general strategy to get it behind us. They want some permanent machinery. We are not very happy with this.

Jobert: We neither.

Kissinger: The maximum we could foresee is some secretariat that would pass papers around.

On MBFR—I know you won’t consider your career unfulfilled here if it never happens. The Soviets said it can be a month after CSCE. I said that was OK as long as it was no later than October 31. Gromyko said that was academic, because the CSCE will be over by September. I don’t believe him. So it is unresolved.

They are pressing us for a concrete MBFR proposal, but we have held off until consultation with our allies.

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

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 26, Geopolitical File, France, Chronological File. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The conversation took place in the Foreign Minister’s office in the Quai d’Orsai.
  2. Kissinger briefed Kosciuszko-Morizet on his Moscow talks on May 14: “The other matter we discussed [in Moscow] was the European Security Conference. It is mostly a German-Soviet problem. The issue is the inviolability of frontiers.” Kissinger stated: “this is not an issue where we have bilateral problems. With respect to MBFR, the only thing discussed of substance was the opening of the negotiations. We agree that it should be no later than thirty days after the ending of the European Security Conference. We said it should begin by October 30. The Soviets said this was stupid because the Conference will have been finished a month before then. They said this was a moot question. I happen to believe they are wrong. We have to say the date is disagreed. I don’t think Brezhnev will break relations if we don’t start the conference on October 30.” (Memorandum of conversation, May 14; ibid.)
  3. See Document 124.