68. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary’s meeting with Huang Chen


  • PRC
  • Huang Chen, Chief, PRCLO
  • Han Hsu, Deputy Chief, PRCLO
  • Hsu Shang-wei, Interpreter, PRCLO
  • US
  • The Secretary
  • Richard Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary, EA
  • Michel Oksenberg, NSC
  • J. Stapleton Roy, Acting Director, EA/PRCM (Notetaker)

The Secretary: I am sorry this means you will be leaving all too soon. As I said before we will miss you.

Ambassador Huang: I have been here over four years. Diplomats come and go. This is inevitable. I’ve made so many friends here. I will miss them.

The Secretary: You have indeed made a great many friends in Washington and in lots of cities around the country. I keep running into people around the country who say they have met you and were glad to have had the chance to meet you.

Ambassador Huang: Recently I have received many telegrams and letters from such friends (about my departure). As I have said, I truly feel that there are friendly feelings between the Chinese and American people—a traditional friendship.

The Secretary: I certainly agree. Since we last talked, there have been some international events. When we were last together we talked about the situation in the Horn of Africa. We have seen what has happened there since then. I still remain concerned over the long run, however, that the situation could deteriorate as Ethiopia gets more arms, which could shift the balance. I discussed this matter with the Shah of Iran today. We have been meeting with him most of the day. We have had many good conversations with him on a whole range of matters. The Horn of Africa was one of the topics. I might also add that Foreign Minister Garba of Nigeria is coming shortly to see me to discuss the [Page 271] question of the Horn of Africa. President Obasanjo of Nigeria has been given responsibility by the Organization for African Unity to see if he can bring about a resolution of the dispute. The Foreign Minister has asked to come and exchange views with us about the subject.

In addition, since we last met, we’ve seen new events in the Middle East with the possibility of a trip by President Sadat to meet with Mr. Begin and address the Knesset. The Israelis gave us this morning, our time, a formal invitation which they asked us to deliver to President Sadat. We will of course do that. In the meantime, President Sadat is going to meet with President Assad tomorrow in Damascus for all-day talks. It is my best guess right now that there is a strong likelihood that Sadat will accept the invitation and go to Jerusalem to address the Knesset. In doing so, he probably will make a statement of the Arab position and of their feeling that the Geneva Conference should be convened to move forward with the negotiations. One cannot be sure of that until after tomorrow’s meeting of Sadat and Assad.

What are your thoughts on these matters?

Ambassador Huang: Our position on the Middle East is already known to the Secretary. Not long ago, our Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-ping talked on this subject with the Secretary.2 As long as you can put a check on Israel, you will be able to maintain your advantage in the Middle East longer.

Assistant Secretary Holbrooke: In Peking in August, Vice Premier Teng and Foreign Minister Huang Hua both raised the question of our relations with Sadat.3 I think the events of the last two months, what is happening now, and the way that Sadat is dealing with this Administration, provide a clear answer to the Foreign Minister’s question as to how we are getting on with Sadat. This shows we are working closely with Sadat toward the objectives that the Secretary laid out in Peking.

The Secretary: That is true, quite true. We are in daily contact with President Sadat and Foreign Minister Fahmi. The dialogue is very close and continuing.

Ambassador Huang: That is good. As Chairman Mao said before, you should use a “two hands” policy: one to Israel and one to the Arab people, because there are a hundred million Arabs.

The Secretary: We are. We are extending a hand to each.

Ambassador Huang: That is good. This policy will be useful in preventing the Soviet Union from interfering. On Somalia and the Horn of Africa, we have just received a commentary from Peking stating that [Page 272] we fully support the decision by the Somali Government to oppose Soviet hegemony.

The Secretary: We have not seen that yet.

Ambassador Huang: I think that Somalia has now seen through the true features of the Soviets. Their real future is one of “false support and real control.” A few years ago Egypt saw through their true colors. Now Somalia in turn has become clear about the true nature of the Soviets. This leads to the conclusion that anyone who deals with the Soviets for a long period will come to the same conclusion.

The Secretary: Perhaps I could say a word about where we stand in our discussions with the Soviets. I know you are going home and they will want to know where we stand, both on SALT and CTB. On SALT, the discussions are continuing, but there are still a number of issues to be resolved, some of which are difficult and complex. I can assure you that any final agreement will be an agreement that is advantageous to the US. We have refrained from publicly commenting on concessions that the Soviets have given to us during the negotiations since they are still going on. But I am satisfied, as is the President, that the direction in which the negotiations are moving is constructive and that as a result of these negotiations we will be in a better position as a result of SALT II agreements. There have been a number of misleading stories in the press. We have refrained from commenting on them because it would not be helpful during the negotiations to discuss the substance. The results will speak for themselves and will be satisfactory.

On CTB, I can cover the situation very briefly. As you undoubtedly saw, the Soviets recently agreed to a proposal which we have been pushing for a long time, i.e. that Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE’s) should be covered as part of any treaty. For a number of months, the Soviets refused to accede to our position, but they have now changed their position and agreed to a moratorium on PNE’s for three years, which is the same period they have proposed for the treaty itself. They have proposed this be included in a protocol to the treaty, and we have taken this under consideration. There are other issues that are still unresolved and the negotiations are continuing. But that is where we stand on these two matters.

Ambassador Huang: I hope you will get satisfactory results, such as the Secretary said. Recently—today—we got the news that recent public opinion in West Germany is very concerned about your concessions to the Soviets. They are concerned that too many concessions will endanger West European security.

The Secretary: I would like to answer that. Chancellor Schmidt raised that. He wasn’t fully informed. He was talking of the cruise missile and on the cruise missile we got exactly what the West Germans were asking for. He has been informed now.

[Page 273]

Ambassador Huang: Our only hope is that you will keep your vigilance high in talking to the Russians and will not be taken in.

The Secretary: We will keep high vigilance, never fear.

Ambassador Huang: I wonder whether you have said what you wanted to say. If so, I will say goodbye.

The Secretary: I have said everything. Is there anything else?

Ambassador Huang: The Chairman of the Board of Coca Cola, Mr. Austin, is waiting to meet me. But I will be glad to stay if there is anything else.

The Secretary: We received a cable today reporting on Ambassador Woodcock’s talk with Foreign Minister Huang Hua.4

Ambassador Huang: We got a message also.

Assistant Secretary Holbrooke: Do you (the Chinese) have any questions?

Ambassador Han: (Prompting Huang) Mr. Holbrooke asked if we have any questions.

Ambassador Huang: No questions. Not long ago, the Secretary and Mr. Holbrooke were in China and had talks with our leaders.

Assistant Secretary Holbrooke: (To the Secretary) You know, Ambassador Huang has invited Governor Harriman to go to China.

Ambassador Huang: Because it is his long cherished wish to visit Peking. Of course we would like to meet his wish.

The Secretary: That’s nice.

Ambassador Huang: He (Harriman) first wished to visit China in 1905, 72 years ago. During World War II, he visited various Chinese cities but not Peking.

The Secretary: Today is his birthday. Mrs. Vance was at a lunch today where they had a birthday cake for him.

Ambassador Huang: I hope we meet again in Peking.

The Secretary: That’s good.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat Files: Lot 84 D 241, Box 10, Vance NODIS Memcons, 1977. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Roy on November 22. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s office.
  2. See Document 50.
  3. See Documents 50 and 51.
  4. Telegram 2654 from Beijing, November 14. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850056–1753)