156. Message From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

WH81396. This is a retransmittal of Moscow 25640. Exclusively for the President. Subject: My Meeting With Brezhnev.

1. We just had a meeting of one and one-half hours with President Brezhnev, Foreign Minister Gromyko, Marshal Ogarkov, Ambassador Dobrynin, and Messrs. Aleksandrov, and Korniyenko.

2. The President read a rather long statement which was moderate in tone and positive in his hopes for better relations with the US—both from an overall international standpoint and from the standpoint of bilateral relations. He started off by calling for an active dialogue. After reviewing the situation in the SALT negotiations in a non-polemical way, Brezhnev said the Soviets are prepared to look ahead and develop a stable base for and a rising curve in our relations. Brezhnev went on to state that our two nations have no alternative but to learn how to live together, and it is our duty to our people and to the world to do so.

3. Brezhnev said that he hoped that you shared his hope for a summit meeting soon. He said this would of course require the necessary basis in terms of a SALT agreement to sign. He said venue would be no problem.

4. He also covered other subjects, including some off-the-record remarks on the need to reduce the chance of nuclear war, which I will describe when we meet.

5. I responded to his statement, point-by-point, noting that I must express disappointment at backward movement in two areas—the suggestion that they should be permitted 10 RVs per existing missile, and their position on the telemetry issue. I then dealt with each of the other points, including your desire for a more stable and better relationship, for a reduction in nuclear weapons, for early completion of a SALT agreement, and for a summit meeting at an appropriate time.

6. The tone of the meeting was friendly, and he closed by warmly sending his very best wishes to you.

7. Brezhnev seemed to be fit—in better shape than when I saw him last—and his diction was considerably improved.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 51, Chron: 10/22–31/78. Secret; Eyes Only. Sent from the White House Situation Room. The telegram is a retransmittal of telegram 25640 from Moscow. The initial C in the upper right-hand corner indicates that Carter saw the telegram.