231. Editorial Note

After accompanying President Nixon to Moscow, Secretary of State Kissinger visited Brussels (July 3–4, 1974), Paris (July 4–5), Rome (July 5–6), Munich (July 6–8), London (July 8–9), and Madrid (July 9). During his stop in Brussels, he briefed the North Atlantic Council on July 4 regarding the results of the summit meeting between President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev in Moscow. Telegram 3764 from USNATO, July 5, reported on the Secretary’s address and the ensuing discussion with NATO representatives. It reads in part:

“Regarding Europe, the Secretary said that first, it was his impression that the Soviet Union is not prepared to make any significant progress right now on MBFR. On CSCE, Mr. Kissinger said the Soviets pressed us very hard for conclusion of the present phase as soon as possible, and for a CSCE summit. He said the U.S. view is as related to the allies previously. Essentially there are two questions: a) does any result now foreseeable justify a summit? and b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what would be that result? The Secretary wished to emphasize two things: First, the United States has no agreement with the Soviet Union to produce a CSCE summit. Secondly, the United States would like to remove the whole debate with its allies about approach to CSCE from the level of theology. To do so, he said, we should seek answers together to the two questions he outlined above. He said the U.S. is prepared to work with its allies. The question is, can we together set down a list of eight or ten things we can agree upon which would amount to a successful outcome of the conference? He said that the U.S. was ready to work with its allies. The U.S. would not press its allies either on the substance of the outcome or on the level at which the outcome should be reached. In turn the U.S. did not want to be pressed either. In sum, he said, it is now up to the allies to clarify their own position in consultation with each other. He intended to raise this subject in further detail with the allies he will be seeing bilaterally later during his present European trip.”

The telegram continued: “Van Elslande (Belgian Foreign Minister) thanked the Secretary for his complete presentation which contained [Page 684] a number of interesting details. He further thanked the Secretary for consulting with the allies so promptly after conclusion of the Moscow summit. Van Elslande said he was thankful for the Secretary’s clarification on CSCE since, at the time he read the summit communiqué, he had the ‘not entirely happy’ impression that the U.S. and USSR felt that a conclusion to CSCE might be possible immediately. He noted that the Secretary had now put CSCE back in the context of the Ottawa discussions. He noted that problems remained to be solved before there could be a conclusion to Stage II. Van Elslande asked the Secretary if he thought it possible for the Geneva negotiations to be held up during a period this summer while the allies undertake consultations prior to a resumption, next September. In recent consultations with the Germans, Van Elslande had learned of possible new Soviet MBFR proposals. He asked if the Secretary knew of these and what they might mean for the future.”

The telegram noted Kissinger’s reply: “Responding to Van Elslande’s question on CSCE, the Secretary said that the U.S. position was as he had outlined it before, and remained as outlined, regardless of possible interpretations of the Moscow communiqué. The Secretary urged that the allies consult immediately on what would be a satisfactory conclusion to the CSCE. He did not exclude allied consultations continuing after July, and did not foresee that an agreement in CSCE could be reached by the end of this month. He advised, however, that any recess be undertaken with the greatest discretion in a non-provocative way and in the context of the holiday which is normal for August. With regard to CSCE negotiating tactics, the Secretary urged that the allies move from the present ‘bureaucratic’ approach, in which every country has a ‘shopping list’ of what it wants out of Basket III, and into discussion of the 6, 8 or 12 items which can be agreed upon as essential. He suggested that the definition of these essential items be undertaken now in consultations in NATO, in Geneva or in both places. The Secretary said it was important not to turn the Geneva negotiations into a drafting exercise. It was also important not to give the Soviets the impression that the West was engaged in a deliberate campaign of obstructionism. The allies should define what they are after and stick to it. The United States would not push beyond the allied consensus on CSCE, just as it hoped not to be pushed on CSCE outcomes.”

The telegraphic account continued: “With regard to MBFR, the Secretary said that nothing had been said in Moscow which went beyond known Soviet positions previously expressed in Vienna, and he noted the Soviets seemed reluctant to be drawn beyond that point. There had been a verbatim repetition of what the Soviets had said in Vienna and they could not be drawn into further discussion. The Secretary’s impression is that the Soviets will not move until they know what CSCE [Page 685] does.” The telegram continued: “On MBFR, Krapf asked if the Soviets had given the impression that they were interested only in small symbolic reductions as a prelude to forgetting MBFR, or were they prepared to consider non-U.S. forces. The Secretary repeated that nothing new had emerged from MBFR discussions at the summit. The Soviets had recognized differences with NATO over air and rocket reductions but did not make a special issue of indigenous forces. The Secretary said his impression was that the Soviets wanted to avoid having to make decisions on MBFR. Moreover, they seemed to want to avoid having discussions that might indicate the possibility of an agreement. They therefore seemed afraid to give any affirmative answers that might put them in the need of making firm decisions.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)

On July 5, Kissinger reported in a message to the President, sent through President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Scowcroft, on the results of his ongoing consultations with the allies: “My discussions in Western Europe thus far have shown substantial support for the results of your Moscow visit. The Europeans have also been highly complimentary about our briefings and consultations before and since the Moscow visit. As a result of the Brussels summit, your bilateral talks there and the earlier Ottawa meeting, European leaders felt they were on the inside. The only potentially troublesome issue is that of the conclusion of the European security conference where the Europeans continue to suspect some sort of U.S.-Soviet deal. I have taken a very strong line, pointing out that it was Western Europe that got us into this conference in the first place, over our own skepticism, that the idea of transforming the Soviet system through ‘Basket Three’ is absurd and that it was absolutely essential for the West to get a common line on how we want the conference to end. The Germans have been most receptive to these points and Foreign Minister Genscher indicated the other night that they would like to coordinate positions with us. I have also stressed to the French in particular that we are not committed to a summit conclusion but will not be maneuvered into a position where they and others signal a willingness to go to the summit—as Brandt and Pompidou did last year—and we are left alone in opposition. I think the upshot of the discussions will be an effort to harmonize Western positions.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 140, Geopolitical File, France, Chronological File)