199. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • The President
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Viktor Sukhodrev, USA Department (Interpreter)

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

Gromyko: I would like to say a few words on Europe, especially on the all European Security Conference. In this area, we are happy to see the US taking a more constructive position. We said so to Dr. Kissinger in Moscow2 and also to you previously. In Moscow, Dr. Kissinger had certain interesting ideas. We told him we hoped the US Delegation would play a more vigorous role in Geneva. We are pleased to see that in recent days this has happened. We hope you and Dr. Kissinger will do everything to bring the Conference to a successful conclusion and to conduct the third stage at the highest level. You see, I have something pleasant to say.

President: Yes, we have made great progress. If the conferees can agree to important matters, then we will come to the summit. It is the same with you—you don’t want to come if there is no agreement. Of course, there are also the Europeans and they also have ideas. So it is not all that easy to get agreement.

Kissinger: We have worked with the Allies and you will have seen that there has been progress.

President: I have talked with the Italians, with Wilson and Brandt 3 and they are all on track. Also with the Dane.4 We are using our influence; I am.

[Page 609]

Kissinger: We have to do a little more with the British in regard to one item—confidence-building measures in the spirit we discussed in Moscow. These are the military things, Mr. President.

Gromyko: Well, thank you very much. Thank you for this conversation. I certainly appreciate it. It has been a very frank exchange of views. I express the hope that all that relates to the closeness of our positions will be brought to fruition. On those matters on which I had to say things are not so pleasant for you to hear, I hope they can be worked out too. I would like you to instruct your Secretary of State that when he addresses the General Assembly he should not fire too many arrows at us. Because in my own speech I had to do some “fighting,” you know against whom.

President: I would like you to discuss one question that you didn’t make much progress on—MBFR.

Gromyko: What is the question?

Dobrynin: Reduction of forces in Central Europe.

Gromyko: Yes.

President: I would like you to discuss it with Henry at lunch. It is very important for certain reasons here.

Gromyko: That is indeed a very important matter, as was said by General Secretary Brezhnev in Moscow. But the Western position in Vienna is not objective. No agreement can be reached on that basis. And what is more, we think they think so too.

President: Well, we discussed with Mr. Brezhnev a five percent cut by both sides.

Gromyko: Well, thank you very much Mr. President.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1029, MemCons—HAK & Presidential. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Drafted on April 15 by Sonnenfeldt. The conversation took place in the Oval Office.
  2. See Documents 194196.
  3. During an April 4–7 trip to Paris to attend the funeral of President Pompidou, Nixon conferred with interim French President Alain Poher, Wilson, Brandt, and Prime Minister Poul Hartling of Denmark. According to a memorandum of conversation, April 6, between Brandt and Nixon: “Brandt pointed out that the USSR wanted a CSCE summit and observed that he was not specially interested in it—the Foreign Minister level would do just as well. The value in a summit signing was it would be one additional commitment by the United States to Europe—beyond the NATO framework. He added that it would not be good if the President met only in a CSCE meeting and not beforehand with his European colleagues/allies. He had no fixed ideas on the forum, but perhaps NATO—anything we and the French could agree on. The President said that, in principle, it was, of course, good for the West to meet before any CSCE summit, if there was to be one, but we had made no commitment on a CSCE summit—the level should depend on a satisfactory outcome of the negotiations.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1028, MemCons—HAK & Presidential.
  4. A record of Nixon’s conversation with Prime Minister Hartling in Paris on April 7 was sent the same day to Kissinger in telegram Tohak 63. (Ibid., Kissinger Trip Files, Box 49, March 30–April 9, HAK Trip, Acapulco, Mexico, Tohak/Hakto)