43. Telegram From the Department of State to the White House1

197920. For Dr. Brzezinski only. Quote. Eyes only for Ambassador from Secretary. Subject: My Meeting With Dobrynin August 18.2

1. Dobrynin, newly arrived from Moscow, told me that Brezhnev intended his comment in his recent speech on the Charleston speech3 to be “constructive.” But he added that Brezhnev’s charge that the human rights campaign was simply a “smokescreen” to cover a continued arms buildup—for example, the neutron bomb—correctly reflected the Soviet leaderhip’s opinion. Dobrynin cautioned that if the aim of this “buildup” is to pressure the Soviet leadership in current negotiations, the US will find it counter-productive.

2. However, Dobrynin was clearly under instruction to put a good face on US-Soviet relations, and to signal continued Soviet interest in SALT. Significantly, he agreed with me on the need to extend the Interim Agreement, and agreed as well that that would best be accomplished through informal parallel statements, or by an exchange of letters. I told him we would discuss the matter further.

3. I gave Dobrynin a comprehensive briefing on the Middle East trip, expressing at the same time displeasure at Soviet readiness to accept interpretations that we were attempting to exclude them from the peaceseeking process. Dobrynin agreed that the Soviet reaction had come about as a result of a misunderstanding. I said we would be working closely with them as co-chairmen and looked forward to seeing Gromyko when he arrived in the U.S. I informed Dobrynin frankly that prospects for a Geneva conference convening before December were not likely, as the Arabs feel much more remains to be done. Dobrynin expressed thanks for the fulness of the briefing and seemed satisfied.

I also briefed Dobrynin on my upcoming China trip,4 and expressed US appreciation for Brezhnev’s information on the possible South African nuclear weapon test site. I told him we would keep in touch on this matter and asked him to do the same.

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Dobrynin suggested that Gromyko come to Washington September 22–23, during the first week of the UNGA, for a meeting with the President. I replied that I would check the schedule.



  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 107, 8/16–20/77. Secret; Sensitive; Cherokee; Immediate; Eyes Only; Nodis. This telegram was sent for “action Moscow from State Aug 19.”
  2. The memorandum of conversation for this meeting is in the Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Special Adviser to the Secretary (S/MS) on Soviet Affairs Marshall Shulman—Jan 21, 77–Jan 19, 81, Lot 81D109, Box 3, CV–Dobrynin, 8/18/77.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 39.
  4. Vance traveled to the People’s Republic of China, August 20–26. He then traveled to Japan, August 26–27.