94. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU
  • The President
  • Viktor Sukhodrev, Soviet Interpreter (notetaker)

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

General Secretary Brezhnev: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] I should like further to say a few words about Europe. I would very much like you to be very clear in your mind, Mr. President, that the Europe policy of the Soviet Union pursues the most honest and constructive goals and is devoid of any subterfuges—even though there is certainly no lack in the wide world of people who want to muddy the water and propound all sorts of pernicious fabrications. The Russian people and all the other peoples of the Soviet Union have suffered quite enough from wars that have originated on the European soil. We do not want this to be repeated anew. We want to rule out such a possibility. That is the objective of our Europe policy. I believe that the [Page 284] United States too cannot be interested in a repetition of all that has happened in the past. We believe that the United States is in sympathy with the achievement of détente in Europe and the strengthening of European peace. If that is so then you and we have before us a vast scope for cooperation to these ends. And we are hoping that it will be carried into effect under the hallmark of good will and a constructive approach. This hope of ours rests on a certain degree of practical experience. We do genuinely value the cooperation that we had with you at the time of the preparation of the agreement on West Berlin. We also value the steps taken by the American side to promote the ratification of the treaties signed by the Federal Republic of Germany with the Soviet Union and Poland. Permit me to express the hope that you and we will continue that good practice in matters including the preparation of the all-Europe conference.

As regards that conference I should like to say the following. This question too we seek to approach as realists. It is obvious that it will not prove possible to solve all the complex problems existing in Europe at one go. But we would think that such a conference if it passes successfully can lay a good foundation for cooperation between all European states.

I believe there is nothing in this that could be opposed by the United States or Canada.

We have on many occasions spoken publicly on this matter and I should not like to take up your time with a repetition of what has already been said. I believe we could discuss this matter in greater detail later and find mutual understanding.

I believe it would be a good thing to register our common positive attitude to the conference in the joint communiqué which will reflect the results of our talks. Such mutual understanding would have great meaning and significance.

The President: This is more a matter of form than substance. I was discussing this question on my way to Moscow with Kissinger and Rogers. I think we could reach understanding and that includes the question of timing. The other European countries will certainly be expecting us to mention this subject in our communiqué so we have to find a way of doing it.

General Secretary Brezhnev: I believe they will certainly be expecting us to do so. I also feel that we could agree without any public announcement to begin consultations on matters relating to the all-Europe conference on a bilateral basis.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 487, President’s Trip Files, The President’s Conversations in Salzburg, Moscow, Tehran and Warsaw, May 1972, Part 1. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place in the General Secretary’s Office in the Kremlin. For the full text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 257.