27. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Dobrynin
  • Henry A. Kissinger

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


We then turned to Europe. Dobrynin said that we were the chief obstacle to the European Security Conference idea that they had put forward. I said that they had never explained satisfactorily why it was necessary to have a big conference simply to settle cultural and trade matters. Dobrynin said that it was impossible to please the United States. When they had proposed to Johnson to have a European Security Conference, they had been accused of wanting to settle too much. In this Administration, they were accused of trying to settle too little. He said we were oscillating between being too specific and being too vague.

For example, he simply did not know what we meant by mutual balanced force reductions and, frankly, he had the impression that we didn’t know ourselves what we meant by the term. As an example of how impossible it was to deal with us, he mentioned the luncheon conversation he had had with Elliot Richardson.2 He said Richardson had handed him a State Department working paper on mutual balanced force reductions3 and had asked him to comment on it. Dobrynin replied it was very unusual for a foreign diplomat to comment on a working paper of another foreign office. When he had called this to the attention of Richardson, the latter replied that he needed Dobrynin’s comments in order to bring the military around in our country. I told Dobrynin that I would be ready to talk in concrete details about mutual balanced force reductions later this summer, after we had worked out our own thinking a little more fully.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 489, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Part 2, Vol. I. Top Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The conversation took place on the Presidential yacht Sequoia. For the full text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 168.
  2. See Document 26.
  3. The paper consisted of the text of the guidelines printed in full in Document 28.