31. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
  • Mr. Henry A. Kissinger

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

European Security

Dobrynin then turned to the subject at hand. He read me a Note Verbale which his government had asked him to transmit to us. The text is as follows:

  • “In continuation of our exchange of views on the questions touched upon at our meeting of June 102 I would like to say the following to be transmitted to President Nixon.
  • “The affirmations made in the course of the above meeting by President Nixon and, on his instructions, by you, Dr. Kissinger, concerning the interest of the US in maintaining the territorial status quo in Europe and the absence of intentions on the part of the US to act counter to this or in general to take any steps in the direction of aggravation of the situation in Europe, have been noted in Moscow. Likewise noted in Moscow was President Nixon’s statement to the effect that the US Government recognizes special interests of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and has no intention to ignore or undermine them due to the unrealistic nature of such a course. Those are, without doubt, realistic judgments.
  • “Likewise, the Soviet Union is convinced that recognition of the realities that have come into being in Europe, constitute that necessary foundation upon which a stable peace on the continent as well as in the world at large can and must be built.
  • “An important step on the way to strengthening peace in Europe would be speedy preparation and convocation of an all-European conference on problems of security and cooperation in Europe as proposed by the Soviet Union and other European Socialist countries.
  • “It should be emphasized that the Memorandum adopted by the Governments of European Socialist countries in Budapest on June 223 takes into account also the wishes of other possible participants in such a conference expressed in the course of bilateral and multilateral consultations. Taken into account, too, are the wishes expressed by the American side both with regard to participation of the US in the all-European conference and regarding questions to be discussed at the conference or in connection with it.
  • “Taking into consideration, in particular, the wishes of the US Government the Soviet Government together with the other Governments which adopted the said Memorandum, have come to the conclusion that consideration of the question of reducing foreign armed forces on the territory of European states would serve the interests of détente and security in Europe.
  • “In our view, this question could be discussed in a body on questions of security and cooperation in Europe which is proposed to be established at the all-European conference. At the same time we are prepared to discuss this question also in another manner acceptable to interested states, outside of the framework of the conference. Such an approach opens wide possibilities in selecting appropriate methods of discussing this question and takes into account the experience that has already been accumulated in considering outstanding problems of such kind, in particular between the USSR and the US.
  • “The questions of man’s environment, which the American side is interested in, could be, in our opinion, discussed within item 2 of the proposed agenda for the all-European conference.4
  • “We proceed from the assumption that in view of these clarifications the United States should have no reason for delaying further the convocation of the all-European conference by way of presenting various preconditions. We hope that the US Government will adopt a more constructive position and will thereby contribute to making the preparation of the all-European conference a more practical business.”

I asked what the phrase meant that in connection with a mutual balanced force reduction, an approach “opens wide possibilities in selecting appropriate methods of discussing this question” on a bilateral [Page 75] basis. He responded that the choice of appropriate forums could be determined after we had agreed in principle. He said he recognized that he owed me some answers to other questions, and they would be forthcoming within the next few weeks. I told him, of course, that I had to check my answer with the President, and I wanted to remind him that I had listed European Security as one of the three topics at our last conversation. I thought the tone of his note was constructive, and we would try to handle our reply in a constructive manner. I would let him know what the response would be.

[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, Pt. I, Vol. I. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The conversation took place in the White House Map Room. The full text of the memorandum of conversation is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 183.
  2. See ibid., Document 168.
  3. See Document 30.
  4. The Warsaw Pact Foreign Ministers proposed at their meeting in Prague October 30–31, 1969, the convening of a “pan-European conference” in Helsinki in the first half of 1970. They proposed two agenda items: first, to “organize European security on the basis of the renunciation of the use or threat of force in the relations between European states,” and second, to “expand commercial, economic and scientific-technical relations on a basis of equality of rights and in a spirit of political co-operation between European countries.” See also Document 11.