218. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Meeting with Prime Minister Heath and Sir Burke Trend, Friday, February 2, 1973, 4:00 p.m. Camp David

The President began by expressing at length his views on the major East-West issues. He said he wanted to spend some time discussing the East-West situation generally and then to try to put into that the items that were uppermost in our mind. Secretary Schultz was now on board and would play a major role in coordinating our economic negotiations. The United States would keep the Prime Minister totally informed. On the matter of the British interest in Poseidons, Director Schlesinger had been directed to handle it all. The President’s feeling [Typeset Page 711] was that we would like to cooperate. We would like to handle it in the context of public opinion and the Soviet angle. We could handle it as an important bargaining chip.

The President saw the East-West situation in the following light: The Western heads of government would be meeting at a time when the Soviets had achieved strategic parity and had no public opinion to worry about. The Chinese were gaining ground in the world. There was a great isolationist current proceeding in the world, and the spreading fashionable view of détente at any price. This put the West at a serious bargaining disadvantage. On the plus side, there was the Sino-Soviet split. It was hard to understand the reasons for the Soviet view, given their style; the Chinese view of the situation was easier to comprehend. The President thought that this major split was likely to last. The Russians could never be too sure of Eastern Europe. Just as we in the West had the problem of a race to Moscow, in the East there was a race towards the West. At the Security Conference they wanted to talk about exchanges in contacts; this was for them running a risk of disintegration. That was our opportunity. There was a problem of Europe becoming inward-looking. We could stall on the European Conference, but public opinion would not permit it. People needed hope without giving up anything substantial.

The United States would play the Sino-Soviet game to the hilt. Their rivalry was desirable. We would reassure the Chinese in the case of Soviet attack.

The President then turned the discussion to the defense issues. As to forward-based systems, the problem was how to relate them to central systems which were the most important. On MBFR, the President emphasized that NATO needed substantial conventional forces. We had to be sure not to weaken this conventional strength through MBFR. The President also stressed the need for a strategy to take care of alliance concerns about SALT I and SALT II. The United States would not be trapped by the Soviets. Yet if we looked at reality we had to understand that we were limited in raising defense budgets. Dr. Kissinger explained that we were using SALT II and the MBFR negotiations partly as a way of getting the Europeans to address defense issues seriously, and focus on the real question of security. Hopefully we could use these negotiations in the same way at home and head off or postpone Congressional pressures for unilateral cuts in our forces.

The President emphasized that we had to get a common US/UK position. We should have joint study groups. Military men, of course, didn’t think anything can change. But we would have to address these issues. The Prime Minister raised the question of briefing the Europeans on trends in Soviet missiles. The President said that this would [Typeset Page 712] be done in the context of US/UK cooperation. With regard to SALT, MBFR and so forth, we had good communications.

The President emphasized his view that the worst solution in any of these areas was to take a spectacular initiative that failed, for example, as had happened in the Middle East.

The Prime Minister mentioned that the British were in communication with the Chinese on trade matters and wanted NATO to address the question of the COCOM restrictions. The British wanted to make deals with the Chinese for inertial navigation equipment related to the assembly of VC–10’s.

The Prime Minister and the President then turned to economic issues. The President stressed his great confidence in Secretary Schultz. Dr. Kissinger mentioned that he was strengthening his own staff and thinking of bringing on a Deputy for economic affairs. The President mentioned that we were devoting special attention to the energy problem and had set up a top level group in the White House to be responsible for energy matters; namely, Dr. Kissinger, Secretary Schultz, and Mr. Ehrlichman. The Prime Minister wondered whether there was a real chance for the oil consuming countries to work together. He personally doubted it. But we could at least try to prevent individual countries from leap-frogging over the others. The consumers might agree on spheres of influence. We should certainly try to deal with the matter on a government-to-government basis rather than let the companies run loose. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that we had to exchange views on the energy problem. The Prime Minister said this subject and other subjects might be discussed at a summit meeting of the European Community.

  1. Summary: Kissinger recorded a meeting among Heath, Trend, Nixon, and himself.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 62, Country Files, Europe, General, UK Memcons (Originals), January–April 1973 (2 of 2). Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Kissinger did not initial the memorandum. The meeting began at 4:15 p.m. and ended at 6:45 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)