324. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Deputy Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs


  • Portugal; Energy; MBFR

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

The President: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] With Helsinki off the agenda, can we make progress on MBFR?

Chancellor Schmidt: The dust must settle first, but it will eventually become the next item on the agenda.

Secretary Kissinger: We are now discussing Option III,2 without a complete agreement.

The President: What are the problems?

Secretary Kissinger: There are some who object to discussion of nuclear matters. Then there is also implicitly a ceiling when forces are withdrawn.

Chancellor Schmidt: I think I was one of the inventors of MBFR—in the latter part of the ‘50s. Once one starts to discuss reductions mutually, it is easier to tell the Congress that you can’t reduce unilaterally. This is what led the U.S. to agree to try MBFR. Things have not gone too energetically, and I am content to have it that way. As long as we can hold the Congress off, what is the hurry?

Secretary Kissinger: But the Congress one day will say that since they can’t be negotiated, they must be done unilaterally.

The President: I think it will come sooner than later. Vietnam held it off, but I think it will not last long.

Chancellor Schmidt: Could we tailor progress to your domestic necessities?

The President: That would be helpful.

Chancellor Schmidt: On the substance, I can’t say anything.

Secretary Kissinger: On the substance, we need a serious review. It is a ridiculous position. We have put forth Option III. Perhaps some serious people should get together to decide what a serious proposal might be.

Chancellor Schmidt: Then we will do it to suit your pace. We are under no pressure.

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The President: I think now that CSCE is out of the way, the Congress may push again. The Congress can be most difficult. Vietnam kept it out of the debate last year, but we could have a bad year if it looks like stalling.

Chancellor Schmidt: We don’t want to stall, but we have no reason to push. There are some pushing in my party but that I can handle.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 14. Secret; Nodis. The conversation took place during breakfast at Schloss Gymnich. President Ford visited the Federal Republic of Germany (July 26–28) and Poland (July 28–29) en route to the CSCE summit in Helsinki (July 30–August 1). Memoranda of Ford’s conversations with Schmidt on matters other than CSCE or MBFR on July 27 and 28 are ibid.
  2. See Document 357.