170. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Conversation between FRG Foreign Minister and Dr. Kissinger


  • FRG
    • Walter Scheel
      • Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister
    • Berndt von Staden
      • Ambassador to the United States
    • Helmut Roth (for part of conversation)
      • Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control, Foreign Office
    • Guido Brunner
      • Head of Planning Office, Foreign Office
    • Heinz Henry Weber
      • Counselor, Foreign Office (Interpreter)
  • United States
    • Dr. Kissinger
    • Mr. Sonnenfeldt
    • Mr. Hyland
    • Mr. Stoessel

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

Mr. Scheel noted that de Gaulle had initiated the détente policy with the East. The FRG had been one of the last to take this up, but it had done its duty and had removed obstacles to relations with the GDR. Now we have moved into the multilateral phase of détente with CSCE and MBFR. Both are test cases. NATO will have to prove that it can pursue a coherent détente policy. This had been most successful at Helsinki. It will be more difficult with regard to MBFR, where there is a tendency toward a legalistic approach. Mr. Scheel did not like this.2

[Page 513]

Dr. Kissinger agreed, saying that the formalistic approach to problems diverts energy to peripheral issues.

Mr. Scheel said that NATO can prove its worth. The negotiations will be a test for both sides. We shall see if only declarations are possible or whether concrete steps can be taken. The difficulties must be clearly stated, since détente can be jeopardized if the issues are not understood.

On CSCE, Mr. Scheel commented that he knew Dr. Kissinger was not very partial to it. However, he had to say that nothing had encouraged the political development of the European Community so much as the CSCE. As a result of the CSCE, decisions will have to be taken in connection with security matters and about contacts between people. Mr. Scheel said that he wanted to see the U.S. as a partner in these matters from the beginning. Dr. Kissinger said he agreed that this was a good approach.

Mr. Scheel said that it was also of great internal importance for the European countries. The CSCE was an instrument which could be used against the Brezhnev doctrine. He recalled that just after the Helsinki meeting there had been a shooting at the Berlin wall; countries everywhere had said that this was against the CSCE. Now, all actions will be measured against the CSCE, and this could have an influence on the Brezhnev doctrine.

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

Dr. Kissinger commented with regard to the CSCE that he had assumed it probably would result in a series of platitudes. Maybe he had been wrong. He had felt that, if platitudes were to be the only result, it was better to accomplish this with a minimum of effort and without great confrontations which would result in meaningless decisions. We did not wish to contribute to what might be the Soviet strategy of submerging existing institutions by creating new ones and by issuing meaningless declarations. We will not work against substantive results if it seems possible to achieve them. Dr. Kissinger mentioned that he had liked Mr. Scheel’s speech in Helsinki.

Mr. Scheel said he shared Dr. Kissinger’s views. The CSCE should not camouflage differences between the two sides. At the same time, he thought there was some hope that the Soviet Union, in an effort to [Page 514] achieve results in the area of security and economic contacts, might be prepared to make concessions in the field of greater communications and human contacts. Like the U.S., the FRG was absolutely against the creation of European institutions which would substitute for existing ones. In particular, the FRG did not support a permanent organization to follow the CSCE. The FRG would like to transfer CSCE decisions to existing organizations like the ECE. If it turns out that there is no appropriate organization for a task to be done, then one might think of establishing a new one, such as in the field of youth exchanges.

Mr. Scheel said that the FRG did not want a European court of appeal, which could be an organ for permanent interference in the political development of Europe. This is just what the Soviets would like. This would be fatal. This is why we need to make clear in a declaration that there are priorities, with Atlantic cooperation first and then East-West cooperation.

Dr. Kissinger said he had no disagreement with what Mr. Scheel had said. We also want to avoid European institutions—even including the U.S.—which would replace existing institutions. However, we would not object to establishing something if the need exists, such as in the area of youth exchanges.

So far as human contacts are concerned, Dr. Kissinger said, we will support this concept. We may have to decide how far we want to push on it. He felt it was not inconceivable that the Soviets might move in this area during the second phase. He had seen Ambassador Dobrynin two days ago, who had indicated that the Soviets at least are thinking about the question of human contacts.3

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

So far as force reductions are concerned, Dr. Kissinger said we felt we could avoid Congressional action this year, but we can’t give a guarantee beyond that. We need MBFR and a clear statement of strategy. Military people in general do not like to change anything.

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

Dr. Kissinger said we want to keep as many forces in Europe as we can. If MBFR is used skillfully and if the talks with our Allies about a declaration go well, then this will be helpful. However, if there is nothing but haggling, then it will make the task very difficult.

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

[Page 515]

Dr. Kissinger said we should give serious consideration to a heads of government meeting when the President is in Europe. It would be inexplicable if the CSCE ends with a summit meeting4 (and he felt that the odds were better than even that this would be the case, even though all of us are reserved about such a meeting) and if the leaders of Western Europe could not agree on meeting with President Nixon. If this were to happen, then we would refuse to attend a CSCE summit.

Mr. Scheel said he fully agreed. We cannot prepare for a CSCE summit without making preparations for it through a West European summit with President Nixon.

Mr. Scheel recalled that the last summit had been in Paris. Dr. Kissinger said this would be satisfactory; it would thus be an ad hoc meeting, which we would slightly prefer in any case. Dr. Kissinger suggested that we might think of a formulation by which the Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers would meet with the President in NATO. Then there could be a meeting with the European Community Foreign Ministers, following which there would be an ad hoc summit meeting in Paris. Mr. Scheel felt this would be satisfactory.

With regard to the NATO meeting, Dr. Kissinger said we do not want it organized the way it was the last time, with the European members asking questions and the U.S. answering. Rather, the meeting should consider common questions and the discussion should be on a common basis.

Mr. Scheel agreed and said this was something which should be taken up in NATO and in the EC. He thought that this approach and the series of meetings envisaged by Dr. Kissinger should make it easier for the French to agree. The meeting in Paris could be looked upon as a preparation for the CSCE summit.

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

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 139, Geopolitical File, Europe, Year of Europe, Memoranda of Conversation. Secret. Drafted by Stoessel. The conversation took place in Kissinger’s office. Scheel visited Washington July 11–12 to discuss the European security conference and MBFR with administration officials.
  2. In a meeting on July 16, Kissinger discussed MBFR with Italian Foreign Ministry officials Secretary General Roberto Gaja, Director of Political Affairs Roberto Ducci, and Italian Ambassador Egidio Ortona. A memorandum of their conversation reads in part: “On force reductions, Mr. Ducci said the Italians share with the French a fear of the creation of a special zone in Central Europe which could come about through reduction of national forces and the imposition of special constraints. He asked if Dr. Kissinger had discussed this with Mr. Scheel. Dr. Kissinger said he had talked with Mr. Scheel about this. We do not think it would be a good idea to include national forces in the first stage of force reduction. It would mean trading good German forces for bad Czech and Polish forces; moreover, they would be demobilized. Mr. Scheel wants to insert the principle that a reduction of national forces could be considered in Phase 2 of the negotiations. It is difficult to object to this. Dr. Kissinger said he would be talking with Mr. Leber this week on this matter.” (Ibid.)
  3. No record of this conversation has been found. See Document 171.
  4. The issue of a CSCE summit also arose in Kissinger’s conversation with Italian Foreign Ministry officials on July 16: “Dr. Kissinger said that in the first place we do not favor a CSCE summit, but that we know no European leader—with the possible exception of the British—who might refuse a summit meeting. He assumed, therefore, that, with some progress in Phase II, there would be a summit sometime in the early spring. He could assure Mr. Ducci that there would be no tie-in between this summit meeting and the President’s visit to the Soviet Union.”