44. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • New Soviet Pressures for a European Security Conference

While calling on the Under Secretary of State on another matter recently, Ambassador Dobrynin presented an oral statement on the need for further movement toward a European Security Conference (Tab A).2

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The main points were:

  • —sufficient agreement exists on such broad issues as the need to relax tension in Europe that preparatory discussion for a conference should begin immediately;
  • —an agenda and date could be negotiated, or all of these questions relating to preliminary steps and preparations could be agreed simultaneously.

This is the most specific proposition from the Soviets for early talks which would be clearly identified as preparatory to a general conference. Much of their presentation, however, is in the form of arguments against NATO’s current policy of linking any movement toward a conference to a satisfactory conclusion of the Berlin negotiations. The Soviets argue strongly against such pre-conditions, and accuse us of opposing a conference.

It seems that this is a rather routine Soviet effort to keep alive the notion of a conference and keep some pressure on the Europeans (who received similar notes) to reduce pre-conditions to a conference. In fact, the Europeans are uneasy about sticking to the agreement that Berlin must be settled first of all. Some now talk of “progress” on Berlin as a sufficient prerequisite for a conference.

The next NATO Ministerial Meeting in June will have to deal with some problems of the conference issues if Berlin is settled. We are engaging the Allies in more discussion to point up the many problems that have to be dealt with not only in terms of procedures, but also in terms of substance. We will also discuss in the Senior Review Group some of the issues that we foresee arising following a Berlin agreement.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 714, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XII. Confidential. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. Attached but not printed. See footnotes 3 and 4, Document 43.