245. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

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

[Page 717]

Kissinger: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] Let me spend five minutes on CSCE.

The original proposal by the Soviet Union in the early 1960’s excluded the United States. Its purpose was to present a substitute for a peace treaty and to create the mood that NATO was no longer necessary. We originally opposed it but gradually changed because all the European leaders pleaded for it and Brandt cut the ground out from under us by recognizing East Germany. Brandt is a good example of a flashy guy with no substance behind it.

Your tactical problem with the CSCE Summit is the Europeans say they don’t want a Summit but if you oppose it, they will come out for it and drag you into it. So you have got to stay a half step ahead. But with the Soviets, don’t commit yourself so the Soviets can use it against us with the Europeans.

The document has four major parts, including the statement of principles, then the three baskets. One is conference [confidence]-building (military) measures, economic matters, and human contacts.

The document is meaningless. The big issue is the question of the inviolability of frontiers as against peaceful change—where the peaceful change will be. Now the big issue is peaceful contacts. The Europeans are trying to work on the Communist parties so they are pushing this. The Communists have gone along with much of it. We have asked the Europeans to put down all their demands in writing so we can put it to the Soviets, and they don’t want to.

We are now at Stage II. The Soviets want to have a Summit before the end of the year. I think it would be better in the Spring.

The President: I think it is mandatory to come after the first of the year.

Kissinger: I think you have to make the trip through Europe first. I would go to Yugoslavia, Romania, and Hungary. We haven’t been invited there, but there is some merit in the Soviets seeing a welcome in even a loyal satellite—no President has ever been there [Hungary].2

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

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 5. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office.
  2. Brackets are in the original.