4. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Rolf Pauls
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
  • William A. K. Lake

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

European Security Conference

Ambassador Pauls said that in his view the decisive point is not whether or not to hold a European Security Conference, but whether diplomatic political approaches could be taken which would improve the prospects for a meaningful conference. Mr. Kissinger stated that the U.S. would not try to veto the holding of such a conference if the Europeans desired it, but warned that he personally thought the Germans could live to regret it since they would often be a minority of one. He asked what specifically might be discussed at such a conference. Ambassador Pauls suggested mutual troop withdrawals. Mr. Kissinger pointed out the difficulties involved in such withdrawals, since U.S. troops must be withdrawn thousands of miles while the Russian troops would fall back only a few hundred. In addition, negotiating troop reductions simultaneously with SALT would be complicated.

If the German Foreign Office talks about troop withdrawals, Mr. Kissinger continued, U.S. public opinion—and the U.S. Senate—will be encouraged to call for them. Europeans should remember that when they make proposals, we may accept them. Ambassador Pauls hurriedly said that he was not proposing mutual withdrawals but simply thought that they could be discussed at a conference.

The Ambassador mentioned in passing the possibility of talking about Berlin and the German problem in preparing for a conference. He agreed, however, that as of now, a conference would make no sense. Such a conference might make sense later if there were diplomatic movement in the meantime. Mr. Kissinger said that he thought this would be an interesting subject to discuss during the Chancellor’s visit; we could consider what might come out of a conference.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 682, Country Files, Europe, Germany, Vol. III. Secret. The meeting was held in Kissinger’s office.