287. Editorial Note

On May 20, 1975, Secretary of State Kissinger and Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko held their final day of talks in Vienna. During a conversation at the Soviet Embassy from 3:10 to 3:40 p.m., they briefly discussed the European security conference. A memorandum of conversation reads in part: “Gromyko: On European security, we believe that when it is finally resolved, we will rise one step higher in our own relationships. But what we don’t like is when somebody tries to tread on our feet. Kissinger: But we have really made an effort in Basket III. We’ll make an effort to meet the deadline. We have already reserved the week of the 21st on the President’s calendar. Gromyko: So on CSCE we will be expecting to hear from you in the very near future, and we expect it will be positive. Kissinger: On Basket III, we’ll instruct our delegations to begin immediately. On the military, we’ll let you know by Tuesday of next week. Gromyko: Good.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger and Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 32, USSR, Gromyko File [25])

On May 21, Kissinger sent a report to President Ford on the second day of talks in the form of a message to President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Scowcroft. The message, which Scowcroft forwarded to the President as a memorandum, reads in part: “I spent some six hours with Gromyko today, including two private sessions. The meeting took place in the garish Soviet Embassy built along Stalinist architectural lines. We skipped lunch to allow more time for talks. He continued to be genial in tone and manner and anxious that our meeting should be portrayed positively in public. In the plenary sessions, however, Gromyko was almost completely unyielding on SALT issues.” The memorandum continues: “I pointed out that in conjunction with unhelpful Soviet positions on CSCE, impact could be quite negative on whole détente outlook. I deliberately overdrew negativism of Soviet positions to see if this would smoke out any flexibility. Gromyko himself merely urged that we not overlook helpful elements in Soviet positions (in fact, there were none in his formal presentation which closely followed a set of handwritten notes).” The memorandum notes with regard to CSCE: “Gromyko produced amendments to the Western compromise proposal on the rights of journalists. These are extremely restrictive and will require a good deal of further haggling. I agreed that these issues can be reviewed by our representatives in Geneva on condition that Soviets provide comments on the whole Western counterproposal and that all outstanding texts on journalists, broadcasting and human contacts be examined. As I indicated yesterday, I think these matters will eventually be settled, but only after a miserable series of haggles. There also was some slight give [Page 844] on maneuver notification. Gromyko agreed to 18 days advance notice instead of 12—and here too I think after some horse trading there will be a resolution.” Gromyko, the memorandum further notes, “indicated that Brezhnev now firmly intends to come to the U.S. in October. This is probably realistic in view of the great amount of work remaining on SALT and the fact that the CSCE finale may well not be feasible by late July. Brezhnev’s health is also a factor that was not clear.” (Ibid.)

On May 22, Scowcroft replied to Kissinger in telegram Tohak 45: “The President said that he had been thinking about Gromyko’s stonewall positions on SALT. He said that if they were a reflection of Soviet attitudes at this point, perhaps we should think about using the leverage of the convening of the CSCE summit conference. I pointed out to him that Gromyko had never been a principal SALT negotiator and that Dobrynin had substantially softened Gromyko’s positions. The President concurred, but said we ought to keep this possibility in mind, because CSCE was for us a minus, not a plus, and there is no reason we should give it away for nothing. I think this reflects the unease which the President has discussed several times with you about CSCE, stemming obviously from the Baltic-American pressure groups.” (Ibid., Trip Briefing Books and Cables for Henry Kissinger, 1974–76, Kissinger Trip Files, Box 9, May 18–23, 1975, Europe and Middle East, Tohak [5])