313. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Anatoli G. Kovalev, Deputy Foreign Minister and Chief of Soviet Delegation to CSCE
  • Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to the United States
  • Georgi M. Korniyenko, Chief of the American Department and Member of the Collegium, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Vasily G. Makarov, Chef de Cabinet to the Foreign Minister
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Counsellor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Interpreter)
  • Oleg M. Sokolov, Chief, American Section of the American Department
  • Yuri E. Fokin, Special Assistant to the Foreign Minister
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Amb. Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Ambassador to the USSR
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department of State
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff
  • Amb. Albert W. Sherer, Jr., Chief of U.S. Delegation to CSCE
  • William G. Hyland, Director, INR
  • Jan M. Lodal, NSC Staff
  • Mark Garrison, Director, Office of Soviet Union Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • CSCE

[Large bottles of Coca-Cola were on the table]

Kissinger: This is the biggest Coca-Cola I’ve ever seen.

Gromyko: Our Pepsi Cola, when you pour it into a glass, it’s full and it remains full after two minutes. Your Pepsi, after you pour it, it’s half gone.

[Page 894]

Kissinger: Ours—you pay for it all, and don’t get it.

Gromyko: That’s why you are so rich. Why do we have Pepsi Cola and not Coca-Cola?

Dobrynin: Because their chairman is more energetic.

Kissinger: And he was a friend.

Gromyko: May I greet the Secretary of State and all other gentlemen who are here with him.

We are indeed pleased to have this new opportunity to exchange views on several important problems. These matters we are to discuss relate both to our bilateral relations and to broad international concerns. I would submit—and we had a brief exchange on this a minute or two ago—that we start by having a word on European affairs and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Those were my brief opening remarks and our proposal.

Kissinger: Mr. Foreign Minister, let me say I am glad we are meeting again, and given the responsibility of our two countries, the increasing regularity of our discussions is important to the stability of the world and we should meet even if we have no urgent matters to discuss.

In spite of the public notices you may hear from America, the President and I are committed to the course we have pursued since 1972 and we believe it is of great importance to peace and security of the world.

As for the agenda, I am in agreement.

Gromyko: Then let us begin to exchange views on the European situation and, first and foremost, the European Security Conference. Would you like to say a few words first?

Kissinger: In my experience no one understands the European Security Conference as the Foreign Minister does. As I understand it, the only thing holding up agreement on the date is Malta,2 and all the issues are settled. They are getting ready to register all the rest. As I said [Page 895] to the press in Paris,3 our government favors the most rapid possible conclusion, preferably at the end of this month. I understand the date they’re now talking about is July 30th.

Gromyko: I would say the following: The situation at the European Security Conference as of today is this. In substance, practically all questions have been agreed upon. If perhaps there are some third-rate nuances, we believe, given the desire, it would require hours—literally hours—to clear away all those nuances, and would take a matter of days to prepare all the texts for signing. There is a question which is of particular interest to Turkey and they have not given final agreement, and that relates to the depth of the zone on one’s territory for giving notice of troop maneuvers. But the basic question is setting a definite date for the final stage of the European Security Conference. Everyone seems to be in agreement with the Canadian proposal4 to begin the final stage on July 30th, although we have not given our formal approval because we believe more suitable is the proposal you and I discussed, and in fact no one in the Conference objected to it.

Kissinger: To meet on the 22nd.

Gromyko: And no one objected.

Kissinger: It’s a little late now.

Gromyko: If we don’t agree on an earlier date, we’ll probably agree to July 30.

It is true we are now faced with a most formidable force—Malta—and there does seem to be the real possibility that Malta will twist all the others into a ram’s horn. But let us see whether all the European states can talk Malta into July 30th as a real possibility. I think it is a possibility.

[Page 896]

Kissinger: We are prepared to meet on the 22nd, and we would also accept the 30th. We think there are no issues remaining and we think we can do it. That’s really the latest we can do. If we do not have it then, we will have to move to the end of August, because we have other visitors.

Gromyko: Well, let us on both sides make an effort to get that date accepted. Let us then really act in that direction to assure it’s accepted. Let us agree that this is not a formal agreement to this, because usually it happens that as soon as the United States and Soviet Union agree on something, someone else comes up with reproaches and says, “Aha, the United States and Soviet Union reached a separate agreement again. And we must have our own view.” Let us act so as to insure success. If you want to refer to this agreement for any purpose, You’re free to do so. The important thing is to do it de facto.

Kissinger: Let’s get Kovalev and Sherer to both come here. I’m prepared to instruct him to work together with you. They know the tactical situation.

[Gromyko tells Fokin to go and call Kovalev. Garrison goes out to call Sherer.]

Don’t you think that’s the best way?

I want our representative here because I told him if we couldn’t do it at the end of July we would do it at the end of August. I don’t want him to be confused. He’s waiting for a call.

Our preference is the earlier the better. July 28 would be better than the 30th.

Gromyko: What about on the duration?

Kissinger: Two and a half days. On this proposal, we would arrive the evening of July 30.

Sonnenfeldt: The end of the day on Wednesday…

Kissinger: The end of the day in Finland in July is …[Laughter]

What about 5:00 p.m.?

We’ll talk to our representative.

I spoke to the French President today.5 He’d prefer to have it in July. Otherwise, August.

Gromyko: July would be best.

Kissinger: He’d prefer July. I see no problem. When I left his office I told the press we wanted it to conclude as rapidly as possible. The Germans I don’t know. I’ll see Schmidt tomorrow.

[Page 897]

But how do you move Malta?

Gromyko: 2–3–4 days—what do you mean two and a half?

[Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt and Hyland confer.]

Kissinger: Well, we’ll just … Let’s talk to our two representatives. It’s a purely practical problem.

I have no idea how to move Malta. Maybe we could sell it to Libya.

Gromyko: The whole island?

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: As a last resort. As a last resort. But we should first have the meetings. As a precondition.

Kissinger: How to move Malta I don’t know. We’ll certainly agree to make a joint representation.

Gromyko: Let’s set the date and go to Finland, and Mintoff will go to Finland. If he doesn’t, well …

Kissinger: He got a big reception in China. They had four people on the street who had lived in Malta.

The problem is countries that agreed to the 30th may not agree to this procecure, where everybody just accepts and Malta is just left out.

Gromyko: But there is a consensus.

Kissinger: We will agree with you to begin on the 30th. You will hear my instructions to Sherer: to work with you and consult with the Germans, French, and British, but to bring it to a rapid conclusion. We will work it out.

[Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt and Stoessel confer.]

What is old Garrison doing? Is he calling Hartman for authority? [Laughter]

Did the one who went out for you come back yet?

Makarov: Not yet.

Kissinger: All I want is to make sure the speeches are kept to 15 minutes at the European Security Conference.

Ours is on the way. Yours is coming.

Gromyko: Let me say a few words about our cooperation, while we’re waiting. There was businesslike cooperation, but there were times when cooperation was uneven. There were times when the American side preferred to remain on the sidelines. But in recent days it has been smoother.

Kissinger: In the cases when we remained on the sidelines, we were working to the same result, as on the 250 kilometers.

[Garrison and Fokin return.]

He’s on the way?

Fokin: Yes.

[Page 898]

Kissinger: [To Garrison] Is Sherer on the way, or is he checking with Hartman?

Garrison: He’s on the way.

Kissinger: When I was in Hanoi, I stayed at a palace in the center of town. I went for a walk. They wouldn’t let me back in, because I had no pass.

Gromyko: You told me that last time.

Kissinger: Now they’re yours.

Gromyko: What’s happening?

Kissinger: I understand they’re making English a compulsory subject, but they won’t have much of an opportunity to practice it.

Gromyko: By two and one-half days, you mean no business on the day of arrival.

Kissinger: I’m told by Sonnenfeldt that the French President is willing to stay only two nights. So we arrive the afternoon of the 30th, stay a full day the 1st and 2nd. That would be our definition.

Gromyko: Three full days.

Kissinger: This gives us two and one-half days. What Schmidt wants to do is to see some people. He can come right before and see them in the morning.

Gromyko: It’s really three days.

Kissinger: Probably many delegations will arrive before.

I’ve talked to Anatol about the possibility of the President meeting Brezhnev while we’re there.

Gromyko: All right. I tell you, all right.

Kissinger: Two meetings?

Gromyko: All right.

Kissinger: The morning after the Conference closes.

Gromyko: Yes.

They’ll probably be arriving any minute now, so we can wait. Let’s not switch to other subjects yet.

Kissinger: I agree.

Gromyko: Soon mothers will start frightening their children by saying, “Malta will come get you.” Mintoff. If they said, “Mintoff will get you,” that would be the cult of personality. [Laughter]

Did you see Mintoff?

Kissinger: I’ve never seen him. He’s often asked me.

I already have half the madmen of the world as my clients. I have to leave some for after.

That’s our strategy: We want him to join the Warsaw Pact; we’d never have a conclusion.

[Page 899]

He was voted in by a one vote majority. They must be due for another election.

Gromyko: I saw him at Helsinki. He was at the meeting.

Kissinger: Why? Was it a Foreign Ministers’ meeting?

Sukhodrev: He’s both Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Gromyko: It will be speech after speech after speech.

Kissinger: I don’t know how I am going to live through two and a half days of speeches.

Gromyko: Suppose they are 20 minutes. Suppose. It would take two and a half days. Two working days, six [hours] plus six.

Kissinger: Plus the closing ceremony.

Gromyko: For signing.

Kissinger: Can’t we make it 15 minutes?

Gromyko: For us, 15 and 20 are the same.

Kissinger: They will take more time anyway.

[Kovalev comes in. The Secretary greets him.]

Gromyko: Here is a victim of Malta.

Kissinger: Where is Sherer? [Garrison goes out.]

Gromyko: Do you think Malta is melting? Maybe Malta is inclined to declare merci. He refused to answer his phone for 24 hours.

Sukhodrev: He is holed up somewhere where there is no phone. [Lodal goes out.]

Gromyko: Malta wants the unconditional surrender of the United States.

Kissinger: We are prepared to surrender to Malta. As long as we do it in startling fashion.

Where is Lodal? This is all a Soviet trick to cut down our delegation. Will someone go out to get Lodal? [Lodal comes in.]

Gromyko: He [Kovalev] wanted to go to attend NATO. They rejected our proposal. How narrow-minded.

[Sherer and Fokin come in.]

Kissinger: We wondered how you two fellows managed to prolong this negotiation.

Gromyko: Malta intercepted him.

Sherer: They are doing their best.

Kissinger: Could you describe the situation?

Sherer: I will try to, but it’s a fast breaking situation. When I last spoke to Minister Kovalev, before meeting the Secretary’s plane, we were faced with a very hard, very hard position by Malta with respect to the situation in the Mediterranean. Even though 34 countries favored [Page 900] the Canadian proposal to go to Helsinki on July 30th. But Malta, it looks like, is going to interfere with that.

While I was meeting with the Secretary, the Soviet Union came forward with two very good initiatives, in my view. The first was to ask the Romanians to talk to Malta to try to soften their position.

Kissinger: That is very clever.

Kovalev: And the Yugoslavs too.

Sherer: I don’t know whether it was the Yugoslavs and Romanians who brought about this possible compromise.

Kissinger: When the United States and the Soviet Union have to use intermediaries to talk to Malta!

Sherer: The compromise is that we will ask the Maltese to accept in toto the follow-up paper, which they have also tried to monkey with, fool around with. We will also ask them to accept Quadripartite Rights and Responsibilities by 7:30 tonight, no changes. We will also ask them to accept the Canadian proposal as is. We have to give them something.

Kissinger: Sicily.

Sherer: Two points on the Mediterranean paper that are boring but might be of interest. There are two phrases, that concern not only “contributing to peace and strengthening security in the area” but also “lessening tension.” There was concern by someone that this could be used to remove the fleets.6 But that is arguable. It could be argued that the fleets contribute to stability.

Kissinger: Could you read me the sentence?

Sherer: “In order to advance the objectives set forth above, the Participating States also declare their intention of maintaining and amplifying the contacts and dialogue as initiated by the CSCE with the nonparticipating Mediterranean States to include all the States of the Mediterranean, with the purpose of contributing to peace, strengthening security, lessening tensions in the area, and widening the scope of cooperation, ends in which all share a common interest, as well as with the purpose of defining further common objectives.”

Kissinger: Is all of this new?

Sherer: Only “lessening tensions.” All the rest of the paragraph is agreed to. Only this sentence.

Kissinger: That is all right. We accept it. Is that all right, Mr. Foreign Minister?

Should I refer it to Washington? [Laughter] I will accept it as Assistant to the President.

We have no reason to add it but we have no objection.

[Page 901]

My colleagues tell me if I hold out a few minutes, I will get an additional concession.

Sherer: The second one is a compromise worked out by Romania, Yugoslavia and Malta: “The Participating States would seek, in the framework of their multilateral efforts, to encourage progress and appropriate initiatives and to proceed to an exchange of views on the attainment of the above purposes.”

Kissinger: What are “the above purposes?”

Sherer: The Mediterranean paragraph.

Kissinger: Could you read it again?

Sherer [Reads the whole paragraph again.]

Gromyko: Without enthusiasm, we will accept it.

Kissinger: This means that all members of the European Security Conference agree to discuss a Mediterranean solution, right?

Gromyko: You see, “the Participating States would seek in the framework of their multilateral efforts”—it doesn’t say what kind,—”and would encourage …”

Kissinger: “Encourage” doesn’t bother me. It’s “to proceed to negotiations …”

Gromyko: The substance of the matter is in the first paragraph.

Kissinger: [To Sherer] What do our allies think?

Sherer: When I left the Center, there was no problem.

Kissinger: [To Kovalev] Do you know?

Kovalev: According to our information, all the Western Europeans are in favor of this. That is what the French told me. I don’t know what the NATO meeting did.

Sherer: There is not time for a NATO caucus.

Kissinger: Let me say that unless there is some objection by our NATO allies, which I don’t know about, I will accept. We accept, with that one proviso.

Sonnenfeldt: Malta has not accepted.

Sherer: Mr. Mintoff has been out on the beach, or out riding.

Gromyko: Or on a mountain.

Sherer: Possibly, Mr. Minister. But their representative, Mr. Kingswell, is possibly high enough to accept for the President.

Kissinger: We will accept these two paragraphs. We will support the July 30 date.

[To Sherer] Our allies have no objection to the July 30 date?

Sherer: There is a consensus on July 30.

Kissinger: The only problem is these two paragraphs and to get Malta to agree to the date.

[Page 902]

Sherer: It may be hard for Mintoff to swallow.

Kissinger: What happens if they don’t yield?

Sherer: We have several alternatives. There is one which is proposed by the head of the Soviet delegation.

Kissinger: Just issue the invitations.

Sherer: To go on a bilateral basis with the Finns.

Kissinger: Can we get our people to go along?

Sherer: No. The Dutch and others will dig in their heels.

Kissinger: What other alternatives do we have?

Sherer: That is hard to say. We are dealing with a man who is just unreasonable.

Kissinger: [Whispers]Assassination. [Laughter]

What do you think, Mr. Foreign Minister?

Gromyko: I think we must be serious about this. We are doing a serious piece of business and we can’t let it turn into a children’s game. If one or two don’t go along, we can’t drag them there. If all the others go, Mintoff will probably go. If he doesn’t … it will be a precedent of how to go about a serious job.

Kissinger: Our problem is the Dutch won’t go, and many neutrals. [To Sherer:] Any others?

Sherer: The Italians.

Kissinger: And some nonaligned.

Gromyko: It’s not serious.

Kissinger: The problem will be that some will say it establishes a precedent about treating small countries.

We will know by 7:30.

Gromyko: It’s not a matter of principle, it’s a matter of meeting the absurd.

Kissinger: We will know by 7:30 if Malta accepts, true?

Sherer: I can’t say.

Kissinger: Why don’t we do the following: Let’s see by 7:30 whether the allies will accept these two paragraphs. Maybe Malta will accept them. Maybe it’s not a good idea to go around about these; Malta will hear about it.

Gromyko: Let me make one correction: We should not start asking other countries their views before 7:30.

Kissinger: I agree. I modified my instruction. Why don’t we ask both of them to come back as soon as they know.

Sherer: We should know by the end of the dinner. 9:30.

Kissinger: Does the Maltese Ambassador think he can get through?

[Kissinger and Sherer confer.]

[Page 903]

Mr. Foreign Minister, I have no objection to stating—at the end of this evening, if there is no agreement—that we and you are prepared to meet on July 30.

Gromyko: Perhaps we could couch it in this form: We have come to an understanding and we agree with those states who agree to July 30.

Kissinger: We agree with those states who accept July 30.

Gromyko: Yes, and to inform the Finns that our heads of government and heads of state are prepared to go to Helsinki.

Kissinger: That will be more difficult. Why don’t we wait until 9:30?

Gromyko: All right.

Could we have a 15-minute break?

Kissinger: All right.

[Kissinger and Sherer confer briefly.]

Gromyko: And then we will go to another subject. We will meet in 15 minutes.

[The meeting broke at 6:35 p.m. It was agreed that Ambassador Sherer would speak to the Maltese representative in the name of the Secretary of State. Kovalev had done it in the name of the Foreign Minister. At 6:40 p.m. the meeting convened in a small group in the anteroom to discuss SALT.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Entry 5339, Box 7, Soviet Union. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rodman. The meeting took place at the Soviet Mission in Geneva. All brackets are in the original. Lodal wrote in his daily log about the meeting and the arrival of Kissinger and his staff in Geneva: “We arrived in Geneva about 4:00, checked into the hotel (which was not air conditioned and very uncomfortable on a hot, sunny day), and then headed to the Soviet mission for our first meeting with Gromyko at about 5:00. Kissinger and Gromyko had a very brief (5 minute) private meeting, and then we went into the main meeting. We held talks about CSCE for about two hours. Most of the discussions centered on how to handle Malta (Mintoff), which had hung up the conference at the last minute. Kissinger was trying to be cooperative with Gromyko, while realizing we had a little bit more at stake in Malta than do the Soviets.” (Ford Library, NSC Program Analysis, Jan Lodal Convenience Files, Box 70, Daily Log)
  2. Telegram Tosec 60025/161676 to Geneva, July 10, contained Hartman’s assessment of the status of the CSCE negotiations: “Agreement on a late-July CSCE summit remains blocked by actions of smaller states—especially Malta and Romania—which refuse to join consensus on certain issues until they receive satisfaction on questions of primary interest to them.” The telegram continued: “The Maltese indicated that Dom Mintoff would send a special envoy to Geneva to pin down a compromise Mediterranean declaration and that until this was accomplished, Malta would prevent agreement on follow-up. This action prompted Romanians to block registration of QRR text. Failure to register QRR as well as ‘peaceful change’ formulation (also blocked by Romania) caused FRG delegation to oppose any explicit target date for stage III.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  3. Kissinger visited Paris from July 9 to 10 for talks with Sauvagnargues and Giscard d’Estaing. On July 10, he and Sauvagnargues held a press conference. Kissinger responded to a question on the European security conference as follows: “With respect to the European Security Conference, I believe that both our countries are of the view that it should be brought to a conclusion as rapidly as possible and that both our delegations are working in that sense at Geneva.” (Department of State Bulletin, August 4, 1975, p. 186)
  4. Hartman wrote in telegram Tosec 60025 that “Canadians today spearheaded attempt to work out a compromise on timing, when they formally tabled a proposal calling for: (a) coordinating committee action to declare July 30 as a target date for opening of stage III; (b) intensification of efforts by all parties to complete substantive negotiations on all outstanding issues by July 15, when stage III target date would be confirmed, and (c) flexibility by Finland in holding to July 30 target date on understanding that financial and other obligations accruing to Finland as a result of summit preparations would be shared pro rata by all CSCE participant states. US delegation is supporting Canadian proposal while avoiding flat commitment to precise date and thereby remaining in step with EC-Nine on timing question.”
  5. No record of Kissinger’s meeting with Giscard d’Estaing has been found but he sent a summary of the meeting to President Ford in telegram Hakto 2, July 11. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, President’s Trip Files, Box 11, July 9–12, 1975, Europe, General)
  6. See footnote 4, Document 294.