163. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1


  • Anatoliy Dobrynin
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski

Brzezinski: I stepped out of the meeting because I was told you would be leaving in one half hour.

Dobrynin: Right. I am leaving for Moscow. I have an oral message from President to President. I will read it and then send it to you.

[Page 495]

Text of message: I received your message of December 15 [14]2 in which you informed of the forthcoming establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China.

In this connection, I want to say the following: The establishment of normal relations between two sovereign states is of course a natural thing. The Soviet Union has always been and continues to be precisely for such relations between countries. Another question is on what basis the normalization is taking place. What aims are being set by the sides. This is also a natural question, especially in view of the perfectly clear direction of the present course of China.

The United States side and you personally, Mr. President, gave more than once assurances to the effect that the development of relations of the U.S. with China will not be directed against the Soviet Union. In your message you reaffirm that the decision to establish diplomatic relations with China has no other purpose but to promote the course of world peace. We take note of this although we cannot disregard the fact that the joint U.S.-Chinese communique allows expressions whose tendency with regard to the Soviet Union, taking into account the usual lexicon of the Chinese leaders, is beyond doubt.

Evidently the Soviet Union will follow most closely what will be the practical results of the development of U.S.-Chinese relations, and it will draw appropriate conclusions for its policy.

As for the hope you expressed for achieving at the forthcoming meeting of Gromyko and Secretary Vance an important progress in completing the preparation of the Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement, we would also like to share this hope. (End of oral message)

Brzezinski: Now, you will send this to me?

Dobrynin: Within one hour.

Brzezinski: Let me make just one factual comment. The wording you refer to in the communique originates in the Shanghai Communique,3 for your information.

Dobrynin: Yes, I remember.

Brzezinski: It might be useful to tell your colleagues that. It is not new language, it is taken verbatim from the Shanghai Communique.

Dobrynin: Yes. Also we are going to receive those senators, Senator Baker4 and some colleagues of his.

Brzezinski: I think it will be mutually useful.

[Page 496]

Dobrynin: Brezhnev intends to receive them.

Brzezinski: Very good. Have a good trip.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 47, China: Normalization with PRC: Events—Aggregate Docu-mentation: 8–12/78. Top Secret. Carter wrote in the upper right-hand corner, “Good enough. J.”
  2. See Document 161.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 150.
  4. Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R-Tennessee).