29. Letter From President Carter to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev1

Dear Mr. General Secretary:

I am taking advantage of Ambassador Toon’s return to Moscow for him to convey to you my personal greetings and to deliver this letter.

I would like to share with you my feeling of encouragement at the more constructive spirit that prevailed during the recent meeting between Secretary Vance and Foreign Minister Gromyko.2 The understanding reached by them regarding the format of the next SALT agreement was a small but useful and welcome step forward. I was also gratified by the preliminary decision regarding the non-testing and non-deployment of new missiles.

I realize, of course, that we are a long way from a comprehensive agreement. The differences between our respective positions are substantive and wide. I am aware that you and your colleagues have special concerns regarding some of our strategic weapons, and I am eager to find a solution that provides equal security to both sides.

At the same time, I would like you to understand that our concern with respect to the new Soviet ICBMs, and especially the MLBMs, is motivated by our belief that the full deployment of these missiles, with their potential for numerous large reentry vehicles, could prove excessively threatening to our land-based ICBMs tending to destabilize the balance of nuclear deterrent capability.

I hope that our negotiators can make progress toward resolving these issues—as well as our differing positions on cruise missiles. My own preference—which I have stated before—is to move more rapidly toward truly significant reductions in the nuclear arsenals that we both control, for I strongly believe that such a step would open up many new opportunities for constructive American-Soviet cooperation. This is why I am eager to cut through existing obstacles, and I have the impression that you share the same desire.

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I also feel that our two countries should soon undertake cooperative efforts in dealing with the global challenges confronting all of mankind: poverty, nutrition, health, and economic development. Closer US-Soviet cooperation on such matters would not only help other peoples but would also widen the scope of collaboration between our two countries, and thus be a positive step toward peace.

It is my hope that I can welcome you to our nation at an early date so that you and I can pursue personally our goals of disarmament, peace, trade, and increasing cooperation and friendship. If a formal visit to Washington should prove inconvenient to you, we might consider a less formal meeting, perhaps in Alaska, somewhat similar to your previous meeting in Vladivostok.


  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, President’s Personal Foreign Affairs File, Box 5, USSR (SALT), 2–12/77. No classification marking.
  2. See Documents 1723.
  3. Printed from an unsigned copy.