142. Letter From President Carter to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev1
I have asked Ambassador Warnke to convey to you and to Foreign Minister Gromyko our suggestions for the resolution of the remaining issues in the SALT II negotiations.
At the same time, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of his meeting with you to renew the direct exchange of correspondence with you which has been useful in the past and can be, I believe, even more useful in the present period.
I am distressed, as I know you are, that relations between our two countries have not developed well. We would each have our own explanation of why this has been the case, but I do not believe it would be useful to repeat familiar arguments about who or what is to blame.
I do not believe either of us can afford to forget how much responsibility is in our hands for issues vital to the peace and well-being of hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings.[Page 451]
I am sure we both agree that our first and most important objective should be to seek to bring these SALT negotiations to a successful conclusion—one that will strengthen the security of both our countries, and of all countries. The proposals which Ambassador Warnke bears reflect our serious effort to work out mutually-acceptable solutions to the handful of problems that stand in the way of a final agreement. I ask that you give them your careful consideration. Secretary Vance will be ready to discuss your reply with Minister Gromyko when he arrives in the United States later this month.
If these efforts are successful, then the conclusion of a treaty in this most vital of all subjects will provide an impetus to the improvement of other aspects of the relations between our two countries. This would also permit the direct personal contact which can add so much to the resolution of difficulties and the dispelling of misunderstandings between the Soviet Union and the United States.
If such a meeting coincided with the culmination of our SALT negotiations, so much the better; but in any case, it would, I am sure, have a constructive outcome.
I hope you will let me have the benefit of your thinking through this private channel of communication whenever it would be useful.
I send you my best wishes.
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 69, USSR: Brezhnev–Carter Correspondence: 1–12/78. No classification marking.↩