299. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania
  • George Macovescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Vasile Pungan, Counsellor to the President
  • Corneliu Bogdan, Romanian Ambassador to the U.S.
  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Amb. Harry Barnes, U.S. Ambassador to Romania
  • Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs


  • Bilateral economic relations; CSCE; Middle East; Korea; Spain; Disarmament

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

President: I know you are concerned about the European Security Conference and about the problems that held up the agreement. We of course have had some reservations about Baskets I and III. I would appreciate hearing your own appreciation about the prospects and what you anticipate.

Kissinger: Macovescu and Gromyko are the only ones who have read all the documents.

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

President: Mr. President, I appreciate your personally delivering the invitation to come to Romania. There is a distinct possibility and I would like to do it. If there is a European Security Conference Meeting in July or August it might be possible to stop for a visit in Romania after the conference in Helsinki.

Ceausescu: Following the European Security Conference?

President: Yes.

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


Ceausescu: As far as European Security is concerned, we are concerned not so much by the fact of delay as by the content and expected results of the Conference. For us, it is not a problem of the dates, but of the results of this Conference. Of course, if it can take place in July, that is fine, or if it is in August or even September, that is fine. The principal thing is to get results which will contribute to the strengthening of confidence and will enhance détente. Therefore, it is not Basket III which is essential, the question of how many journalists or artists travel. That is for the experts. This isn’t what is so essential. As far as we are concerned, let as many as want travel around. The essential problems are in the first Basket. On this hangs the movement toward détente and for that matter the conditions of things like cultural exchanges.

[Page 865]

In connection with this we see some problems which must be solved if the Conference is going to wind up with good results. First of all there should be firm engagements of states on the renunciation of force and noninterference in the internal affairs of other states. Secondly, there is the problem of certain military aspects. Granted it is not a question of resolving basic problems, but we have sought nonetheless to make sure that there will not be interference in the internal affairs of other states. It is a question for example, of these engagements regarding military maneuvers. And even here it is not so much whether it will be 250 or 180 kilometers or 10 to 20 thousand men, but the very fact that the content of these measures should be obligatory and not something voluntary. Therefore if all these problems are going to be reduced to something voluntary, it no longer makes any sense to waste time and energy over 100 kilometers of distance here and there. But what we are doing is introducing into international law certain rules which have existed up to now. When a group of states arrives at certain understandings, these would be mandatory and not voluntary. That is important.

Macovescu: One of the other principal problems is that connected with continuity of the Conference, the follow-up.

Ceausescu: I don’t know what your opinion is but we believe the most dangerous situation is still in Europe where there are the two military blocs with modern armaments, huge concentrations of troops, atomic weapons as well. Therefore we would want to have the summit meeting represent not the conclusion but rather the beginning of European security. For this reason we are in favor of an organism, a process for assuring the continuity of this conference.

President: How often do you see it meeting? Every year, every two years?

Ceausescu: Once a year, once in two years, any time when it is necessary. If there should appear some tense situation, if something should happen, then it could discuss what might be done to prevent things getting worse.

Kissinger: What do you think of the idea of a review conference in 18 months or two years?

Ceausescu: In our opinion that is a good idea. We think as a matter of fact that this sort of permanent organism could have the role of preparing such a conference. I don’t have in mind something that would be set up with a lot of bureaucracy, but rather something that would meet periodically once a year or every six months. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of one of the countries would have the role of coordinator, and this could be on a rotational basis.

Kissinger: For example, rotating?

Ceausescu: United States, Soviet Union, Romania.

[Page 866]

President: [Smiling] Romania.

Kissinger: We have explained to Romania2 and we have been in close touch with the Romanian delegation to the Conference, that the very reason Romania wants this is why we are not agreeable. We are not eager to grant to countries the right of permanent interference in the West. Quite frankly, this is the problem with a permanent mechanism. I understand why you want something to which you could appeal, but we do not want established structures in the West to be exploited. We are sympathetic, though, to your concerns.

Ceausescu: We don’t think of this organism as having any sort of right to do this, and in order to avoid this problem we could regulate the basis on which it would act to exclude such possible intervention. We see it as preparing for new conferences and for solving such problems as will appear. We don’t want any Eastern intervention in the West or Western intervention in the East or Western intervention in the West or Eastern intervention in the East. I would ask you to reflect some more on this problem and to review your position.

[Both Presidents and the Secretary nod agreement.]

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

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Entry 5339, Box 3, HS Official, Chronological. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office at the White House. Brackets, with the exception of those indicting omission of unrelated material, are in the original. Ceausescu visited the United States on June 11 for one day of discussions with President Ford.
  2. See Document 259.