73. Memorandum of Conversation, Belgrade, August 3, 1975, 7:35-9 p.m.1 2
THE WHITE HOUSE
MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION
- Josip Broz Tito, President of Yugoslavia
- Milos Minic, Vice President of Federal Executive Council and Minister for Foreign Affairs
- President Ford
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Amb. Lawrence H. Silberman, U. S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia
DATE AND TIME: Sunday, August 3, 1975 7:35 - 9:00 p.m.
PLACE: Federal Executive Council Building
Tito: I would like to say again how happy I am to exchange views with the President and his associates and to welcome you here. I am only sorry it is for such a short time. I hope there will be some opportunity for you to visit Yugoslavia unofficially.
President Ford: I am most grateful for your personal welcome and for the welcome of the Yugoslav people. My return to Belgrade brought back many memories of twelve years ago when I had a chance to meet many people in your government and establish a relationship. May I congratulate you on your speech and presiding at Helsinki.
Tito: And may I say the same to you as well.
President Ford: I wish we could stay longer. Mrs. Ford and would like to return again and enjoy the beauties of Yugoslavia.[Page 2]
Tito: I would like to hear how you would like to proceed. We don’t have much time tonight. I think our bilateral relations are good. We discussed international relations in Helsinki. Maybe we could talk about the future.
The President: I agree, Mr. President, that our bilateral relations are excellent. Maybe we could expand on what we touched on earlier — Greece and Turkey and the Middle East. Those are areas where the threat of conflict is great and the dangers that it could bring are very serious. Maybe we could discuss these things.
Tito: The Middle East is the most troublesome point. I feel that there is some deterioration and that the situation could get more and more complicated. Since it is the most serious, I would suggest discussing it tomorrow.
Perhaps we should discuss security in Europe and what we should do to promote it. I think that after Helsinki the moral factor will become important. I have heard that there has been, for example, some new progress between Greece and Turkey in Vienna. I hear there was also progress at SALT.
The President: Yes. We made some progress. Not as much as we hoped, but I think sufficient to lay the ground work for an agreement this year. The issues are very technical. While I had hoped for more progress, we did make some and I am reasonably optimistic.
Tito: These talks were just in passing then.
The President: Yes, but we are hoping they will lead to something in finality. We are also concerned about MBFR. Do you have any advice for us in this crucial area? We are deadlocked.
Tito: I know very little about them other than the fact that they are deadlocked. Perhaps Minic can give us something more.
Minic: I know little more about it. But Palme has made a proposal that the two sides should reduce on each side.
We think reduction would be good also.
Tito: I think there is a connection between the reduction of arms and Helsinki. Otherwise we haven’t done much.[Page 3]
The President: I assure you that we will do our best. We have a formula and we will attempt a breakthrough. We think the spirit of Helsinki should push the negotiations forward.
Tito: Reduction of arms certainly falls within the Helsinki concept. It is important not to let things stagnate.
Minic: Some progress should be made. Otherwise the spirit that we now have would be dissipated.
The President: There was some implication that CSCE would be followed by MBFR. Not an agreement to do so, only an implication.
Kissinger: So far each side has proposed disarming the other. But we will put forth a serious proposal this fall and should make some progress.
The President: We have turned it off for this year but the Congress, if there is no progress, will renew its efforts to make unilateral force cuts. I will resist, but it could happen.
Tito: I couldn’t believe the Congress would do such a thing.
The President: My Administration never will. But there are members who would do so. Thus far they are a minority.
Tito: In 1977, after your elections, there will be a summing up of the Helsinki follow-on.
The President: I am looking forward to attending it as President.
Tito: All the international conferences held in Belgrade have been successful. For example, the first non-aligned conference.
Kissinger: It is now bigger than the two blocs! It’s the biggest bloc now.
Tito: It is not a bloc. [Laughter]. There have been some rocky days in the non-aligned group, but we will get by. It is not good to be exclusive groups. We will discuss it tomorrow. I would like you to understand our position.
The President: I know you can imagine how much time I, and I assume Brezhnev, have spent working to implement the Vladivostok accord. We think that dividing the world into blocs is not the best way to deal with the [Page 4] problems. In the kind of world we live in today, there can’t be the kind of confrontation and military activity which took place during your time and mine. I will dedicate myself to eliminating those sources of conflict that could lead to military confrontation. Our orientation will be that way.
As I was saying earlier, I recall Dulles saying how important it was to establish a good relationship with Yugoslavia. Over the years that relationship has grown and expanded and been highly beneficial to both sides and to the world. The American people as a result have developed a great affection for the Yugoslav people. The American people — if I can say it in the right way — sometimes don’t understand criticism of our actions. The feeling for Yugoslavia is very strong, and under those circumstances criticism is easily misunderstood. So I would hope we could each moderate our statements.
Tito: I quite agree. A criticism can be expressed with friendly words or in a not friendly way.
Minic: Yugoslavia is entrusted with the preparation for the 1977 Conference so we will need consultation with all the parties.
The President: We will cooperate completely.
Minic: In past times we have had close cooperation between the foreign ministers and the ambassadors of our two countries.
Kissinger: I agree. We hope to continue to consult — and we will consult before the Special Session next month because we want to make a constructive effort.
Tito: We also want to be constructive. We have had many contacts with the heads of government in Helsinki and with others with whom we have disagreements, and we agree we won’t let the press lead our relations. But if there are differences, we will meet and talk them out.
The President: I have a very close and personal relationship with Secretary Kissinger. There are no differences between us. And the Ambassador is my appointment. He has my full confidence, so we have a good situation.
Tito: That is the best way — only a few sources for passing information.
The President: At the top, information should come to me through the Secretary. But Ambassador Silberman does have my complete confidence.[Page 5]
Kissinger: We attach great importance to the understanding between Yugoslavia and the United States, given the standing of Yugoslavia in the non-aligned world, and we will do our best to say in close contact.
Tito: Let’s close until tomorrow.
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs, Convenience Files, Box 70, Ford Trips File, July-August 1975—European Trip—Yugoslavia (2) WH. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Federal Executive Council Building.↩
- Presidents Ford and Tito met to discuss Yugoslav-U.S. relations and multilateral negotiations for security in Europe.↩