184. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrey Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs, USSR
  • Anatoly Dobrynin, USSR Ambassador
  • Mr. Sukhodrev, Interpreter
  • The President
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department of State
  • Walter J. Stoessel, Ambassador to the USSR
[Page 547]

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

Mr. Gromyko: On European affairs, I would like to recall the understanding reached in the relevant US-Soviet documents, and also in talks between you and Mr. Brezhnev on the theme of Europe and the CSCE.

I went into more detail about this with the Secretary this morning,2 but, briefly, I would like to say that we are not completely satisfied with the progress in Geneva. We feel that some countries are artificially dragging their heels. We don’t know the reason for this. Perhaps some countries want to find ways to interfere with the internal affairs of the Soviet Union—or perhaps it would be better to say of the Socialist countries in general and the Soviet Union especially. I don’t know how to explain this. Perhaps there are some naive people who think they could divert the Soviet Union from its course, or perhaps there are other reasons.

I would like to underline that we feel that there are unjustified delays in the conference and we are not happy about it. We hope that the US can find ways of exerting its influence in Geneva on those who are dragging things out. We think you are able to do this, so as to achieve a positive outcome. We think this would be in the best interests of everyone and it would benefit US-Soviet relations. There is no need to go into detail.

Lastly, I would say that we hope that the possibility mentioned by you and Mr. Brezhnev regarding the holding of the final stage of the conference at the highest level could be realized. This would have enormous international significance. Secretary Brezhnev wanted me to underline this especially. We believe it would be a good thing to complete the agreements of the Conference at the highest level. This would be of historical importance for the world at large and especially for the US and the Soviet Union. I would appreciate your comment on SALT and the conference.

The President: I have already commented on SALT. As I said, our intentions are to reach agreement at the summit and this will have my personal attention.

About dragging feet at Geneva, this does not apply to the US. We are not doing this. I remember when Mr. Brezhnev pressed me at Camp David to agree to conclude the conference by the end of the year and I said this could be our goal but we can’t commit others. That is still true.

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As at Camp David, I would say that we want agreement at the Conference and, if they merit it, they could be signed at the highest level. We remain commited to that.

Dr. Kissinger will look into the question of who is dragging feet at Geneva, and see what can be done.

I know there are language problems at Geneva. If you could be flexible, we would have a better chance of influencing our allies. However, our two countries are together in their approach at Geneva; the problem lies with some of the allies.

Secretary Kissinger: Exactly. As I explained, some of the allies want to use the Conference to reform the domestic system of the Soviet Union, which is unrealistic since they failed to do so in several wars.

We agreed this morning on a procedure and we will try to work out some language. Then it will be a question of tactics as to how this should be presented at Geneva. Stoessel, Sonnenfeldt and Hartman will work with Vorontsov and someone else from the Soviet Embassy. They should find a formula this week.

The President: We are not dragging our feet. You want us not to drag our feet but rather to kick someone else in the tail.

Mr. Gromyko: We just want you to nudge them.

The President: When I think of the language worked out by Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt on world problems, it should be possible for us to get together on this matter.

Of course, we have our own ideas about your system and you have your ideas about ours, but we are not trying to change yours.

It is a question of how honest a person like Jackson 3 is who seems to want to change the Soviet system—and here I speak as an old cold warrior myself.

Mr. Gromyko: If there are such people—and there must be, judging by the obstructions in Geneva—either they have lost all feeling of realism and are unable to see what is possible and what is not possible, or they are real opponents of détente. I was asking Secretary Kissinger can there really exist people who are oblivious to the results of WW II?

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I agree with most of what you have said and I see you are against procrastinating. We need a little more coordination and we will work with Dr. Kissinger to see what can be done to speed things up.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 71, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Gromyko 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Oval Office. The full text of the memorandum of conversation is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974.
  2. See Document 183.
  3. Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson. In October 1972, Jackson first proposed an amendment to an East-West trade bill that would have made the granting of mostfavored-nation (MFN) trading status to the Soviet Union dependent upon Moscow’s ending its restrictive emigration policies, which discriminated against Soviet Jews. Although the amendment failed, Jackson demanded that the Nixon administration make improved relations with the Soviet Union dependent on changes in its human rights policies, especially with regard to Jewish emigration. He also continued to introduce legislation in Congress linking MFN status with the emigration of Soviet Jews.