180. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Nicolae Ceausescu, President of Romania
  • George Macovescu, Foreign Minister
  • Sergiu Celac, Interpreter
  • President Nixon
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Harry G. Barnes, Interpreter

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

President Ceausescu: I might touch now upon some international issues beginning with Europe, since that’s closer to us. We would like to have the United States show a still greater concern for the successful conclusion of agreements which would contribute to real security in Europe. In addition to any eventual documents, a matter of great importance is the question of measures of military disengagement and also the matter of establishing a permanent body. We hope, therefore, that the United States would favor steps in these directions.

Connected with these questions is the matter of the conference at Vienna on force reductions. In our opinion, things there are not going all that well. First of all, not even all of Central Europe is being discussed. Discussions for that matter of some symbolic reductions have actually only a symbolic importance and in fact very little practical significance. It is a real question when you get right down to it whether the troops in question are going to be shifted to some other country’s territory in Europe or withdrawn to their own countries or reduced in numbers as far as national forces are concerned. These are some of the problems which concern not only us, but many other states in Europe.

President Nixon: First of all, with respect to MBFR, the discussions are going to be very difficult. We will have in mind the concerns of Romania [Page 535] and other countries which are not directly involved in our discussions with the Soviet Union.

So far as CSCE is concerned, there is considerable difference of opinion in Europe, both in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as among small and large states, as to how the conference should eventually come out. But for our part, we are particularly sensitive to the interests of Romania and other countries which have supported the conference and which should have a major voice in bringing about whatever agreement is eventually reached.

Dr. Kissinger will see that the closest consultations take place with Romania on both subjects.

Secretary Kissinger: On the question of mutual force reductions, I understand President Ceausescu to be saying that Central Europe is not adequately covered because of the lack of Hungarian participation. Our interest is in getting rid of Soviet troops and even if Hungary had been included reductions would have amounted to only 3 or 4,000. Therefore we did not consider it a question of principle to insist on Hungary’s inclusion at that stage. Of course, one doesn’t know where the Soviet troops would go. That is a question which concerns Romania and also China for they might go somewhere in Siberia. Perhaps you would prefer that. In addition, there is the problem of our own troops whom we now have in Europe and whom we might want to have available to use elsewhere.

President Ceausescu: So far as the matter of troops in Hungary and Northern Italy is concerned, this does not represent a question of great importance for us because there are some troops still on our other frontiers. But where the troops go still has an importance which is connected with other countries, and I am sure you understand that I am referring to the implications for Yugoslavia. That is the reason why I should like to have these problems noted. Incidentally, we will plan to raise this sort of question in Vienna, but of course not in the same way as I have raised it here.

President Nixon: It is difficult enough when there are just two parties to reach an agreement. When you have a dozen or so, it is almost impossible. It is important, however, to try to make some progress. Other meetings at Vienna such as the one that took place a century or so ago have succeeded. There have also been ones which have failed, both at Vienna and Geneva as well. I think it is a good step that we have both the conference in Geneva as well as the MBFR meeting in Vienna, but we realize the difficulties.

[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 279, Presidential File, Memoranda of Conversation. Secret; Nodis. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting took place in the Oval Office. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) In telegram 243762 to Geneva, the Department summarized Nixon’s conversation with Ceausescu. It reads in part: “Addressee posts [Geneva and the U.S. Delegation to MBFR] should have in mind statement made during discussions here December 4 and 5 with President Ceausescu on CSCE and MBFR.” It noted that “the President asked the Secretary to see that the closest consultations take place with Romania on both subjects.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 708, Country Files, Europe, Switzerland, Vol. II)