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our rapprochement and to the treaty on the prevention of nuclear war. This comparing of notes, this exchange of views, can only do us good.
The President: Dr. Kissinger will talk to Dobrynin.
Brezhnev: I will write you my views directly. Do I understand that your reply is positive?
The President: We should always be in touch through the private channel on any subject and any nation, especially an important nation like China which can affect our relations. This must be in total confidence.
Brezhnev: We accept no other way.
The President: We shall continue our present policy of communication with China. But you can be sure that the United States will never do anything with China or Japan against the interests of the Soviet Union or inconsistent with the spirit of the agreement we signed yesterday.
Brezhnev: This is important. Thank you. Of course, very good relations will continue between our countries. I am sure, however, of one thing; China will never stop the development of its nuclear arsenal no matter what you say. We should continue to exchange on this subject, especially when you come to the USSR. We cannot limit our arms while they build up.
The President: How long until China becomes a major nuclear country?
Brezhnev: In answer to your question, we must take into account various analyses. I believe that in the course of the next 15 years they will not reach a stage we will have then; but in ten years they will have weapons equal to what we have now. We have tactical weapons sufficient to deal with them now. But we must bring home to them that this cannot go on. We will adhere strictly to our agreements. But the Chinese will act in their fashion. In 1963, during our Party Congress, I remember how Mao said: “Let 400 million Chinese die, 300 million will be left." Such is the psychology of this man. Afterwards, the people of the world became afraid, and a new phase started of the arms race. Then when Mao saw that his idea was not gaining support, he made a somersault, asking us to sign the principles of coexistence with him. Now Chinese people are saying they will never use nuclear weapons. I don't believe them. They won't sign any agreements. These people are ruthless.
The things I have been saying are my personal thought.
The President: The subject is of critical importance for the future of our children and grandchildren. I will be in personal touch with you. I
A reference to the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War.
will ask Dr. Kissinger to analyze it and be in confidential touch with you through Dobrynin.
Looking at that part of the world, the subject that concerns me is the continued military action of the DRV in Cambodia in violation of the Paris Agreement. If that continues, the reaction of many people in this country will be that Soviet arms made it possible. The U.S. and the Soviet Union must show restraint also towards allies, in relation to our agreement. This would involve a contentious situation.
Brezhnev: I agree one hundred percent. Let me tell you something in strictest confidence. When the Paris Agreements were signed we had an exchange of letters. You accused us of supplying tanks and arms to the North Vietnamese. After the Paris Agreements we in fact suspended sending arms. The Vietnamese wanted to send Giap to Moscow. The visit was postponed. There is nothing dangerous in these agreements. On 9 July Pham Van Dong and Le Duan will come to Moscow. I don't know what they will propose, but it will certainly involve a return visit. I have no intention of going. I see no necessity of
I sending new equipment. We have no agreement with Cambodia and Laos regarding supplies. Do not worry about our supplies. There may be rifles but nothing of considerable significance. We will speak in strong terms to them. We will urge them to adhere to the Paris Agreements. We will talk to you afterwards. Many of these stories of arms shipments come from the Chinese. These reports say they are Soviet; we think they are Chinese. We are one hundred percent for a speedy termination of the war in Cambodia and Laos. We have no presence in Cambodia and Laos. Gromyko and Dr. Kissinger should give additional thought to this question. I would like to think the matter over. I intend to speak to the North Vietnamese on July 9th to urge that the war tendency not be strengthened.
One additional thought on China. Of course I do not have the right to interfere in the affairs of your country. I appreciate that you can make agreements with any state. My idea is that if in the course of this year the U.S. and China will conclude a military arrangement, people's trust will go down. Next year or so is impossible.
The President: We will keep in touch on that subject, and our efforts will always be used to promote the purposes of the agreement of yesterday.
Brezhnev: The peoples of the world will lose trust in us if an agreement of a military nature is concluded with China. I would like you to understand me.
4 See Document 74.
5 Vo Nguyen Giap was a Deputy Premier and the Minister of National Defense of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: We have never had military discussions with China.
Brezhnev: Of course I believe you. But we are worried about the future, or it will undermine our relationship. In 1972 we did not raise the issue. But I am worried about the future. There is no need to undermine the agreement we have concluded. We do not intend to attack China but it will be different if China has a military agreement with the United States. That would confuse the issue.
132. Memorandum for the President's File by the President's
Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)
San Clemente, June 23, 1973.
President's meeting with General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev on Saturday,
[The principal subject of the meeting was the Middle East. At the close, there was a brief discussion of the exchange of letters on Soviet grain purchases, and of Brezhnev's forthcoming meeting with President Pompidou in Paris.]
[Pleasantries were exchanged at the beginning of the meeting regarding Brezhnev's visit to the West Coast of the United States.)
General Secretary Brezhnev: I would be glad to hear your views on the Middle East problem.
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files-Europe—USSR, Brezhnev Visit Memcons, June 18–25, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Printed from an uninitialed copy. Brackets are in the original. Kissinger wrote in his memoirs, “At ten o'clock my phone rang. It was the Secret Service informing me that Brezhnev was up and demanding an immediate meeting with the President, who was asleep. It was a gross breach of protocol. For a foreign guest late at night to ask for an unscheduled meeting with the President on an unspecified subject on the last evening of a State visit was then, and has remained, unparalleled. It was also a transparent ploy to catch Nixon off guard and with luck to separate him from his advisers." (Years of Upheaval, p. 297)
The President: The main problem in our view is to get talks started. Once we get them started, we would use our influence with the Israelis and you with the Arabs. But if we just talk about principles, we'll never get them. Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Gromyko seem to have agreed on five principles and disagreed on three.? We can do nothing about it in the abstract; we need a concrete negotiation. Then we can be effective. I understand that Dr. Kissinger is redrafting the document.
Dr. Kissinger: Right. And we will send it to Camp David.
General Secretary Brezhnev: The substance of the principles is essential, at least in confidential form. I fully understand that we cannot write into the communiqué all the details. But we must put this warlike situation to an end. The Arabs cannot hold direct talks with Israel without knowing the principles on which to proceed. We must have a discussion on these principles. If there is no clarity about the principles we will have difficulty keeping the military situation from flaring up. Everything depends on troop withdrawals and adequate guarantees. I can assure you that nothing will go beyond this room. But if we agree on Israeli withdrawals, then everything will fall into place.
The President: On a subject as difficult as this, we cannot say anything definitive. We will look at all your suggestions and incorporate them into the paper. Right, Henry?
Dr. Kissinger: Yes. We will send them to you in Camp David tomorrow.3
The President: I am not trying to put you off. It is easy to put down principles in such a way that parties will not agree to talk. If we do it this way, then we can use our influence and you can use yours, to get a resolution of the differences. I can assure you I want a settlement—but
I we don't get it just by talking principles.
General Secretary Brezhnev: [launching into a long speech) Proceeding from the logic of things, without an agreement on general principles we don't see how we can act. Last year we couldn't agree on a set of principles. We should find some form of words we can agree on. What are the principles? (1) Guarantees for Israel and the other states. This can be done in strict confidence. (2) We can ensure by the guarantees that there is no confrontation from the occupied territories. (3) Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories. (4) There will be unobstructed passage for all through the straits. And if we can get agreement on these principles we can then discuss how to use any influence on the
2 See Document 130.
The paper, prepared by the NSC Staff, was delivered to Dobrynin at Camp David on June 24. Attached to it is a draft of the General Principles on the Middle East. For the text, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXV, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1973, Document 74.
contending parties. We should use our confidential channel with Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Dobrynin. If we don't do that, we have no basis for using our influence. I agree with everyone present here that we can't say it in the communiqué. But we should know in what direction to act.
We are reaching results as a result of our confidential exchanges. This is not a demand. But it is something we should do. It is necessary not only for the Arabs but for others too. As soon as there is a lasting peace, our diplomatic relations will be restored with Israel. We could agree on Vietnam. Why can't we do it here? Once the principles are agreed, we can go on. That is why I would like to know that we have reached agreement on principles. If we agree, the result will be a stronger peace in the area. But if the state of vagueness continues, the situation will deteriorate. Of course we are great powers and we can bring to bear our influence. But the principles are a minimum. If we can't reach agreement, it will undermine confidence in us. Peace must be worldwide. Our actions should be aimed at an enduring and lasting peace. I am trying to see things realistically. But to influence things we must know the principles on the basis of which we can do good work together.
The President: We can't settle this tonight. I want you to know I consider the Arab-Israeli dispute a matter of highest urgency. I will look over Dr. Kissinger's notes and we will send you our best thinking. Henry, do you have anything to add?
Dr. Kissinger: Only that all the headings mentioned by General Secretary will be covered. The big issue is the degree of precision to be achieved and how much should be left to the parties.
The President: A year ago when we met I had primary concern with Vietnam. I still have concern. I will say to General Secretary I agree with him and the Foreign Minister as to the urgency of this; we disagree only on tactics. We will try to find a formula that can work. We must avoid the issue—we must find words with subtlety that will bring both sides together. We have got to find a solution. I will devote my best efforts to bring it about.
General Secretary Brezhnev: We need not define all the principles and forms on which they can be carried out. We can't write down everything. But I would like to attach to the communiqué some principles. These would be: withdrawal of Israeli troops, recognition of boundaries, free passage of ships, and guarantees. Without some measures of confidential agreement, we don't know where we are going.
[Editorial comment by Dr. Kissinger: Typical of Soviets to spring on us at last moment without any preparation.]
The President: We are not prepared to go any further. We can't abstractly beat the issue to death. We don't owe anything to the Israelis.