291. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. Gen. 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.]

Kissinger: On your trip2 we didn’t get to discuss CSCE.

On CBM’s, the issue left is what territory should be included for notice of maneuvers. The Europeans wanted 500 kilometers inside the Soviet Union, maneuvers involving 12,000 troops, and notice 96 days ahead. The Soviet Union proposes 30,000 troops, 18 days ahead, 150 kilometers. The Soviet proposals are inadequate.

On human contacts, it is a total fraud. Only Gromyko can understand the language. The language is very abstract, but even this the Soviet Union won’t accept.

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As for post-conference machinery, the Soviets previously wanted a permanent Secretariat. We wanted an assessment in two years. Now the Soviet Union is on our side; but they want to delay four to five years since they now are afraid Yugoslavia and Romania will use the machinery against them.

I think your position must be hard-line. No more concessions to the Soviet Union. If they want a conference, let them concede.

The President: Did you see the New York Times editorial?3

Kissinger: It was unconscionable. You should see the editorials they had in ‘69 and ‘70. But the Jews are trying to get the maximum polarization with the Soviet Union.

But on CSCE, I would listen and not get engaged. Say if we can get a decent settlement, fine; if not, wait a few months.

The President: If the Soviets are so eager to get a CSCE, can we use that for SALT leverage?

Kissinger: It would be difficult; it could have been done a year ago maybe, but the Europeans would leave you. We should, three years ago, have linked it with MBFR. But if it isn’t finished but early June, there can’t be a meeting in July. Our negotiation can drag just a bit behind the Europeans and slow it up as much as possible.

The President: I think we should hang back. Will the Europeans care?

Kissinger: Yes. Brezhnev said he wouldn’t come here before the CSCE. I told him that is OK; we are better off domestically on our anti-Soviet line.

[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 12. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office.
  2. It is unclear to which trip Kissinger is referring.
  3. On May 26, the New York Times published an editorial entitled, “What Price Security?” It reads in part: “The agreement [on European security] is something the Soviet Union has sought for two decades and, especially, since 1966. There is not much the West expects to get out of it except some pious phrases, which are more likely to be honored in the breach, although it would be an error to yield on the minimum points the West is now down to defending. The real issue is whether the President of the United States, the President of France, the Chancellor of West Germany, the Prime Minister of Britain and virtually all the other heads of government of West Europe should take part in a Helsinki gala with Mr. Brezhnev and his East European satellites that might create a false euphoria over ‘peace in the world.’” (New York Times, May 26, 1975, p. 14)