374. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei Gromyko, Foreign Minister of the USSR
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador
  • Victor M. Sukhodrev, Interpreter
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Europe; Nuclear Understanding; Jackson Amendment; Middle East

[Omitted here is an exchange of pleasantries.]

[The Foreign Minister began speaking in Russian.]2


FM Gromyko: On the question of the rights of the four powers, the formula that our Ambassador received from you [U.S. draft of September 18, Tab A]3 is something that simply cannot be discussed. It cannot be discussed. I can’t imagine who it was prepared for. Let’s agree this way! With regard to the admission of the two Germanies to the United Nations—this is why the matter of rights and responsibilities was raised in the first place—the matter of rights and responsibilities simply is not touched upon; it does not arise. This is the best formula for us and for you. So as not to create the impression that it was discussed. Otherwise someone might develop a taste for reviewing [Page 1065] these matters, and in some years from now they may want to review them.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t understand. How does it differ from what you said?

Ambassador Dobrynin: Your’s said [shows copy of Soviet text handed over in Moscow, Tab B]4—it mentions all sorts of things about a peace settlement and unification and so forth.

Dr. Kissinger: Unification? Where does it say that? Peace settlement? We can take that out. [He puts brackets around the clause “which they retain pending a peace settlement for Germany”].

FM Gromyko: First, the word “Germany” is mentioned. We do not know such a phenomenon. Second, a peace treaty is mentioned; this cannot be. Third, everything is in terms of whether these rights exist or they do not exist, whether we respect rights or do not respect them. We think all three points are not justified. We should not create the impression that this is being discussed, or else three or five years from now someone will develop a taste to take up the matter of rights and responsibilities.

Dr. Kissinger: I can see your point with respect to the clause “which they retain pending a peace settlement for Germany.” Two of your points apply to this clause; that can be deleted. Let me tell you that the main operational difference between your version and our version, in our mind, was that we added the phrase about practices and procedures to the clause about rights and responsibilities. That was the important part for us. Your third point is about whether we should affirm these rights and responsibilities at all. On this there is a difference of opinion. The reason we feel we must have it is because by entrance into the United Nations the GDR acquires a character of sovereignty which up to now we have not admitted, and transit rights across a sovereign country are not the same as transit rights across a country whose sovereignty we did not admit.

FM Gromyko: But the strongest possible guarantee of your and the British and the French position is our wording “does not affect the question of.”

Dr. Kissinger: The real difference is that our version says, “does not affect the rights.” Your version says, “does not affect the question of the rights.”

FM Gromyko: The difference is that ours does not imply anything about substance.

[Page 1066]

Dr. Kissinger: I would say just the opposite. To affirm the rights is not to detract from them. The implication of yours is that the question is still open. So sometime in the future or someone—for example your German allies—could take advantage of this. If you affirm that it does not affect the rights and the responsibilities, then the only question open is what are these rights. The answer is in the Berlin Agreement.

FM Gromyko: But we are saying that the question can never be raised. In connection with UN membership. The phrase “does not affect [nye zatragivayetsa]” is in the sense of “is not involved.”

Dr. Kissinger: What is your objection to the other language?

FM Gromyko: It means that we are discussing the question of rights and admit the possibility of changing them.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand. It is an interesting point. Let me think. Now if we agreed to drop this clause about a peace settlement and if we agreed to add the phrase “the question of,” would you agree to add the phrase about practices and procedures?

Ambassador Dobrynin: Why do you need that? What does it mean?

Dr. Kissinger: If it is not affected, what difference does it make? Of course, this whole thing has already been discussed with our allies and we will have to discuss it again. Now if we take your phrase we are saying that the whole complex of the Berlin machinery is not affected. Is that right?

FM Gromyko: The whole question is not affected.

Dr. Kissinger: That I am willing to concede. But we will place great stress on this phrase with respect to what has developed in the body of arrangements on Berlin. I can understand that you don’t want to affirm them individually, but we need some reference to the whole body.

FM Gromyko: But which “procedures”? Several questions arise from this phrase. Do you mean multilateral, bilateral?

Dr. Kissinger: But all we are saying is that they cannot be challenged on the basis of UN membership. We are not codifying them for all eternity. Our concern is not to create new pressures as a result of voting for UN membership.

FM Gromyko: Maybe we will give thought to it.

Dr. Kissinger: We will give thought to it. We ought to handle it like the Berlin thing. I understand your point exactly, and I think you understand mine. I’ll talk to Stoessel. We will give you a document which you won’t find acceptable, but we will agree ahead of time on how it will come out.

FM Gromyko: When can we get a final result?

[Page 1067]

Dr. Kissinger: What I have given you is what the allies want. We will try to nudge them in the direction of what you want.5 Would you consider something like “procedures, decisions and practices?”—we’ll leave out “procedures”—if we dropped out the clause about peace settlement and added “the question of”?

FM Gromyko: It creates difficulties for us.

Dr. Kissinger: What I am proposing will create difficulties for me too. Home came to me6 and you told him that you didn’t think any declaration at all was required. Or so he thought you meant. He said to me Britain would not go along unless there was some declaration that rights and responsibilities were not affected. I will talk to Stoessel tonight and tell him what we want.7 I wanted it to develop more slowly, but let’s get it done. I don’t think we can do less than what I have told you. We can insert the phrase “question of,” but we need “decisions and practices.”

[Page 1068]

FM Gromyko: What decisions? Joint decisions?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

FM Gromyko: Decisions of the four parties?

Dr. Kissinger: That’s right. You will still get a document that looks a bit different. Then we will handle it like the Berlin negotiation. You make a counter proposal.

FM Gromyko: Not unilateral decisions, just multilateral decisions.

Dr. Kissinger: Right.

FM Gromyko: Why do you want to lay yourselves at a future time open to some review?

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t. All I am doing is to describe the body that cannot be reviewed, if we put in “question of.”

FM Gromyko: Then it is “the question of the rights, responsibilities, agreements, decisions and practices is not involved.”

Dr. Kissinger: Right.

FM Gromyko: Please think it over.8

[Omitted here is unrelated discussion.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 13. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at the Soviet Embassy. Gromyko, who had recently attended the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, was in Washington for his third annual review of U.S.-Soviet relations at the White House.
  2. All following brackets are in the original.
  3. The text of the U.S. draft of September 18 (Tab A) reads as follows: “The governments of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States and France … have agreed to support the application for UN membership when submitted by the FRG and GDR and to affirm in this connection that such membership shall in no way affect or change the four power rights and responsibilities, which they retain pending a peace settlement for Germany, or the agreements, decisions, and practices and procedures which relate to them.” Kissinger apparently gave Dobrynin the draft during their meeting in the Map Room at the White House on September 18 from 1:10 to 3:20 p.m. (Record of Schedule; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) The draft is largely based on a text suggested by the Department in telegram 167644 to Bonn, September 13. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 38–6)
  4. For the text of the Soviet draft of September 13 (Tab B), see Document 373.
  5. In a special channel message to Bahr on October 4, Kissinger reported: “As regards the four-power declaration, our talks with Gromyko show that the Soviets remain quite willing to have such a declaration. They are also close to us on the language but some details remain. As soon as there is a text that seems satisfactory, we will of course be in touch and nothing will be made final without participation and agreement of all the Allies. For the moment, would you keep the fact that we are talking to the Russians about the text just between yourself and the Chancellor. On this particular subject, it would probably be helpful for you to tell Brezhnev that a declaration satisfactory to all concerned is an essential part of the package.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser Files, Kissinger and Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 35 West Germany—Egon Bahr Communications)
  6. Kissinger met Home on September 29 from 3:40 to 4:05 p.m. and for dinner from 7:50 to 10:07 p.m. (Record of Schedule; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) A memorandum of conversation is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 62, Country Files, Europe, UK Memcons 1972 (Originals).
  7. According to Sutterlin and Klein, when Kissinger called to discuss the quadripartite declaration, “Stoessel proposed that the text be shown to Secretary Rogers, but Kissinger demurred on the ground that this raised various questions of responsibility that could only cause problems.” (Sutterlin and Klein, Berlin, pp. 174–175) Kissinger also met Stoessel on October 3 from 11:01 to 11:15 a.m. (Record of Schedule; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) No record of either conversation has been found. The two men reviewed the quadripartite declaration by telephone at 11:28 a.m. on October 4. After an exchange on revisions to the text, Stoessel mentioned that he had raised the issue with Rogers: “WS: I talked with the Secretary yesterday and told him that there have been discussions by you with the Russians on this and that they in general seem to be disposed to talk about it and we thought agreement was possible and they suggested that discussions be between Ambassadors in Bonn and also that we had shown them our text—he didn’t say anything about agreeing. HK: What did he say? WS: And he said that sounds reasonable and apparently he also had mentioned this subject to Gromyko yesterday morning and apparently gotten the answer that yes this could be worked out so he seemed fairly relaxed about it—. HK: Well, let’s get the text agreed and then how you handle it in your shop is your business.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 374, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  8. Kissinger called Dobrynin at 11:34 a.m. on October 3 to discuss how to handle the proposed quadripartite declaration. After tentatively agreeing to hold the formal talks in Bonn, the two men reviewed the informal procedures: “K: The only thing, Anatol, is we have to play the game again like we did with Berlin. D: Yes. K: Because we will give you the unacceptable version, you give us your unacceptable version, and we compromise on this. D: Oh, and so it will be precisely like this—you will send it, Gromyko will look if it’s all right so you put the thing in Bonn in our channel, yes? K: Right. D: Did you already present your text on this or not yet? K: No, no; we want to wait until we hear from you. D: No, I mean the previous one. K: We haven’t presented that. D: And so then you will present your old one or you will present the new one? K: No, we will present the old one, and you present your old one. D: I see and then it comes to compromise. K: Exactly. D: Okay, I think it is fine. Just fine.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 395, Telephone Conversations, Dobrynin, Anatoliy Fedorovich)