156. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Sir Burke Trend, Secretary to the Cabinet
  • Earl of Cromer, UK Ambassador
  • Richard Sykes, Minister
  • Charles Powell, First Secretary
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff
  • William Hyland, NSC Senior Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

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

Trend: On MBFR, are we back in your good books?

Kissinger: I haven’t heard any complaints lately.

Trend: You were so unhappy last time we met.2

Kissinger: You should be aware of one thing the Russians have proposed to us, on MBFR and CSCE. I am beginning to think I understand the Asian mind better than the European mind! Last year the Europeans were complaining we had to set a date for the opening of MBFR; now they are complaining we are trying to delay it.

As I told you, at Zavidovo Gromyko said it was academic because CSCE would be over by the end of September. Now they said if we [Page 481] agree to end CSCE this year, they will agree to fix a date for the MBFR opening even if it is prior to the closing of CSCE. This is the proposition they put to me.3 I understand Brandt is willing to end CSCE this year.

Sykes: Three to four months may be needed, on the commissions. But we really can not fix a date because we don’t know how it will go.

Kissinger: What would you say if we had a vague phrase in our Communiqué4 that we don’t oppose ending CSCE this year, or something like that?

Sykes: I don’t think you should do that; you will become a hostage.

Kissinger: We don’t care about CSCE. But would it be worth some small price in order to get MBFR?

Cromer: If it is just set as an objective, there is no price.

Kissinger: But CSCE now need not be over first. We have to have MBFR discussions going on when Congress reconvenes next January. You know this.

Sykes: Yes.

Cromer: The question is whether the Russians want a definitive date of before the end of this year.

Kissinger: A definitive date would be impossible to deliver.

Sykes: I don’t see how London would object to setting a date as an objective, if MBFR can begin before.

Kissinger: Could you get me an answer?

Sykes: Yes.

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

  1. Source: Ford Library, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 23, United Kingdom (5). Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The conversation took place in the United Kingdom Embassy Chancery.
  2. See Document 140.
  3. See Document 155.
  4. Apparent reference to the joint communiqué for Brezhnev’s upcoming visit; see Document 163.