193. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Willy Brandt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • Walter Scheel, Vice Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Guenter Van Well, Foreign Ministry
  • Paul Frank, Foreign Ministry
  • Peter Hermes, Foreign Ministry
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Martin Hillenbrand, Ambassador to FRG
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Middle East; Declarations; MBFR;CSCE; Energy and UNGA; Hungary; Yugoslavia; European Unity; Consultation Procedures; Berlin; SALT; XXIV (6)

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


Secretary Kissinger: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] Then I must say my view on MBFR and the Vice President’s view are not the same.2

Dobrynin has now proposed to me a 30,000 troop cut, 15,000 Americans and 15,000 Europeans with a guarantee that MBFR will include the Germans.3 We have already rejected this.

Minister Scheel: It seems to be the main policy of the Soviets to cut the Bundeswehr.

Secretary Kissinger: We will not accept the singling out of the Federal Republic in these negotiations.

Minister Scheel: It should be the US and Soviets in the first stage.

Secretary Kissinger: If we can reduce that number, on both sides, and still keep it to the US and Soviets, that is no problem. There is no great compulsion to get US troops out of there. We have the sense that the Europeans would not object to a smaller US reduction even if it means a smaller Soviet reduction.

Minister Scheel: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: It has to be linked to the second phase.

Minister Scheel: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: And we are not prepared to give up a common ceiling.

Minister Scheel: Yes.

[Page 576]

Secretary Kissinger: The basic principle of our position is that we will not accept a definition of the second phase that singles out the Federal Republic.

Minister Scheel: We should say that the next phase should “include all Conference partners.”

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. We will go no further than that.

Minister Scheel: It is not possible to accept a treaty that singles out the Bundeswehr.

Secretary Kissinger: That could begin a process of neutralization, or at least a special regime.

Minister Scheel: And supervisory rights.

Mr. Van Well: Atreaty would probably be signed. In the Conference.

Secretary Kissinger: Our present view—and I wanted to discuss this with Walter—is that we can accept just the US and Soviets in the first phase if it is linked to a second phase with a common ceiling, and we are prepared to say it should include stationed and also indigenous forces. We will not accept “German forces.”

Minister Scheel: What we want is that it should include “all Conference participants who are full Conference members.”

Secretary Kissinger: We have no problem with that.

Mr. Van Well: We would very much like to have this as an arrangement between the alliance systems.

Secretary Kissinger: We would be prepared to have it as an arrangement between alliance systems that says it’s only the US and Soviets in the first phase, but between alliance systems.

They may try to make it bilateral.

We won’t conclude anything in Moscow, in any case. Sonnenfeldt and Hartman will brief NATO afterwards, and may come to Bonn.

We will stick to the common ceiling and to the principle that if there is any reference to the Europeans, it will be to the “states participating in the Conference,” rather than to the Federal Republic.

Chancellor Brandt: We must now give you something to eat.

Secretary Kissinger: How nice of you to come.

[The group moved to the doorway. The conversation turned to CSCE.]4


Chancellor Brandt: We are open to one road or the other—I do not know how the others feel.

[Page 577]

Secretary Kissinger: If we agree among ourselves that the present document, plus some changes, is all right, should we go to the summit or not?

If we go to the summit, we can sell it for a better document.

Chancellor Brandt: I am worried about the President coming to an understanding with Brezhnev before coming to an understanding with the allies.

Secretary Kissinger: I have been talking about it for a year.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1028, MemCons—HAK & Presidential. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rodman. The conversation took place in Schloss Gymnich. Attached but not printed are a letter given to Kissinger by Scheel on the establishment of FRG Federal agencies in Berlin and a copy of Kissinger’s public remarks after the meeting.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 192.
  3. Dobrynin apparently made the proposal to Kissinger on March 19. Sonnenfeldt wrote Kissinger on March 20: “Dobrynin’s proposal [of March 19] that we consider a 30,000 man cut by each side, fifty percent to be made by the US and USSR, fifty percent by other Allies of each, is in fact a step back, from our viewpoint, from proposals already made by the East in the Vienna talks.” Sonnenfeldt suggested that a formula for equal numerical reductions by the two sides, or by the United States and Soviet Union, was unrealistic: “It does not take account of the fact that the US is an ocean away from Europe while the Soviets are not, and that there are more than twice as many Soviet as American forces in Central Europe, or of disparities between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.” (National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 5, Nodis Memcons, 1974, Folder 3)
  4. Brackets are in the original.