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174. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, April 12, 1974, 2:15 p.m.


Conversation with Foreign Minister Gromyko


H.E. Andrey Gromyko, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs
H.E. Anatoliy Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador
The Honorable Georgiy Markovich Korniyenko, Chief, USA Division, Soviet

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Viktor Mikhaylovich Sukhodrev, Counselor and Interpreter, Soviet Ministry

of Foreign Affairs
The Secretary
Kenneth Rush, Deputy Secretary of State
Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor
Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs

Gromyko: I see in this room as well as in the other room that Americans like concealed lighting. We don't make a big secret of our lighting.

Secretary: There are a lot of changes around here. Since I went away, Secretary Rush has introduced a whole new cuisine.

Our press is going crazy over the question of whether or not we are making progress.

Sonnenfeldt: The ticker stories this afternoon are all based on your comments in the elevator.

Secretary: They are saying that we are not going to achieve a permanent SALT agreement but if we had told them we had no intention of doing that, they would then call that a failure.

Gromyko: I suppose you are having many visitors this week.

Secretary: Yes, I have seen the Algerian and today I saw the Egyptian and tomorrow I have breakfast with the Dutchman van der Stoel?

Gromyko: Do you plan to see Fahmy again?


1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 69, Country Files—Europe-USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 22, January-April 1974. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Hartman. The meeting was held in the Secretary's Dining Room.

2 Kissinger met with Algerian President Houari Boumedienne, Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy, and Netherlands Foreign Minister Max van der Stoel.

Secretary: I have no plan to. He told me he would see you on Sunday. I gather you are leaving on Monday. Why don't you get up and leave after I begin my speech and then the press can make a big story out of that-GROMYKO WALKS OUT.

Seriously, I plan to add several paragraphs to my speech about how détente contributes to our ability to cooperate with all countries. I am told that your speech was very moderate."

Gromyko: Yes, perhaps it was too moderate.
Dobrynin: It stressed the basis for cooperative efforts.
Secretary: That is not inconsistent with what I will say.

Dobrynin: You see, Henry, you are beginning to use double negatives too.

Gromyko: I know how to use triple negatives, Anatoliy.
Rush: You know that a double negative equals an affirmative.

a Secretary: We are talking to the greatest double negative expert of them all. (At this point the Secretary toasted the Foreign Minister.)

Gromyko: With respect to the UN General Assembly, we set forth our viewpoints. We think that this session can give a general direction for work that should proceed but that there can be no document adopted before the next session of the General Assembly. We think that the Economic and Social Council of the UN should be told to draft recommendations for the next session. This session we cannot get into specifics or details.

Secretary: We aren't prepared either to get into specifics at this time. We should stick to general objectives and not talk about specifics at this session. Maybe I will be able to let you see my draft speech in you

wish to comment on it.
Gromyko: And your Allies, what position will they take?

Secretary: We haven't coordinated very well for this meeting. I don't have any knowledge about specific proposals.

Sonnenfeldt: The only thing I can remember is that the French have proposed a UN monitoring system.

Hartman: There are several proposals for commissions and groups to study specific proposals such as commodity arrangements.

Secretary: I think that we were both attacked by the Chinese.

Gromyko: Your Chinese friend accused us both of superpowerism. Are you going to reply?


[blocks in formation]

Secretary: No, I don't intend to reply. If I comment at all it will be very general, saying something critical about people using slogans.

Gromyko: I didn't directly reply either.

Secretary: I am having dinner Sunday night with the Chinese. I don't know how to interpret what is going on in China. By the way, they took the initiative for my meeting.

Gromyko: Do you know Teng Hsiao-ping? I met him a long time ago but I don't know him very well. We met in Moscow and Bucharest. Secretary: I know Chiao Kwan-hua well. He has been at every

5 meeting except the first.

Dobrynin: He is an older man. He must be over seventy.
Secretary: Yes.
Gromyko: I think so but by Chinese standards that is young.
Secretary: Do you know Wang Hung-wen?6
Gromyko: I have never met him.
Secretary: I have never met him either.
Dobrynin: Didn't you meet him in Shanghai?
Gromyko: You visited Shanghai, didn't you?
Secretary: Yes, but I don't recollect meeting Wang.

Gromyko: May I raise the question of Berlin if it won't spoil your appetite? You will recall that we discussed this question in Washington and also when you were in Moscow. We said that the best solution to this problem is to suspend de facto the establishment of the Federal Environmental Office'-only Allah knows why they took the decision to establish it in the first place. We have information that if the United States agreed the Federal Government is prepared to go along with suspending the establishment of this office. Thus the problem depends on you. You can dispose of this matter.

Secretary: That can't be the right information but let me say that if the Federal Government asks our approval for their not proceeding, we will not stand in the way. If you are saying that we should order them not to proceed that is a different matter. If the German Government considers that they do not wish to go ahead, we will not stand in the way. If we have to take the initiative, however, that is a different matter.

5 Qiao Guanhua (Chiao Kwan-hua) was PRC Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the Chinese Delegation at the UN General Assembly.

6 Wang Hongwen (Wang Hung-wen) was the Deputy Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from 1973.

? See footnote 4, Document 160, and footnote 2, Document 170.

Gromyko: Let us say that there could be an understanding without any political/legal steps on your part and that you register this understanding to their agreement not to proceed. Your attitude could be made known to them. That would be the way out. If you are concerned about the Berlin situation that could solve the problem. You register your understanding on the basis of facts. Thus you would be making a gesture in favor of the Quadripartite Agreement.

Secretary: This reminds me of messages I receive from our Ambassador in New Delhi, who says that he has received "idiotic instructions." That leaves me with the choice of either saying that I didn't know about the instruction or that I am stupid.

Gromyko: Mr. Rush who has great responsibility for the Quadripartite Agreement should “jump for joy" if we can solve this matter. Of course, this would not absolutely satisfy us even then because the Federal Government has still taken a decision in principle to establish the office but at least the factual situation would be frozen.

Secretary: I am not absolutely sure I understand. If there was a German decision not to establish the office on its own, we would not object.

Gromyko: I have the information that this is the German view.
Secretary: That is news to us.

Gromyko: I may say I have more than an impression that this is the German position.

Secretary: They have not conveyed this to us. Let me do the following: I will ask the Germans what their intentions are. If they have no intention of implementing their decision, then we have a new situation. If your information is incorrect, I will inform you. Art, will you see that a message is sent off immediately?

Rush: I very much doubt that this is the German position.

Secretary: I just had a conversation yesterday with Scheel and he said nothing about this.

Gromyko: Did you discuss this question?

Secretary: Yes, we reviewed our conversation in Moscow and agreed that this was now a common Allied position. No new institution would be created in Berlin without full consultation and approval of the three Western Allies. The Germans accept that they will recognize our decisions when we refuse approval. The British and French also agree.

Dobrynin: They know then?

Secretary: Yes, but that does not include the Federal Environmental Office. Perhaps you have confused the idea of no new institutions without our approval but the new institutions does not cover the

Federal Environmental Office. In any case, I will ask the Germans if anything is new.

Gromyko: So the Federal Environmental Office you think is still going to be established? You should check that with the Germans.

Rush: They have never indicated that to us. In fact, politically this would be very difficult for Brandt to do. He has lost several recent elections. The CDU is now showing more than 50 percent in the polls for the first time. The SPD is in a very weak posture.

Gromyko: What province is this in?
Rush: This is an overall percentage for the whole country.
Secretary: It is hard to understand the decline of Brandt.

Rush: I think it is due in large part to the inflation. When I first went to Bonn, Schiller8 told me that the SPD would stay in power as long as the inflation was kept below 3 percent. Secretary: They have three years to go before elections.

: Sonnenfeldt: The law on the Federal Environmental Office is in the Bundestag now.

Rush: It would be too late for them to withdraw. Politically Brandt could not do it.

Gromyko: I will verify my information.
Secretary: Do you want me to proceed with the Germans?

Gromyko: No, you wait until my Ambassador communicates with you. I will verify the information. I am sure that it is from a reliable source. I received it while I was in New York. Our Ambassador will phone when he has the information or whether my information is correct.

Secretary: I do not believe it is correct.

Gromyko: I don't want your hands tied. Therefore, I will verify the information.

Now I would like to turn to another kind of environment and I hope that you can be more forthcoming. What do you think of our proposal on making an agreement with respect to changes in the environment?

Secretary: We are going to have a meeting on it soon.

Sonnenfeldt: A report is overdue but we should have it in a few days.


8 Karl Schiller was the West German Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance from May 1971 to July 1972.

The report was sent to Nixon by Deputy Secretary of Defense Clements under a May 1 covering memorandum. (Ford Library, NSC Institutional/Historical Records, Box 13, Senior Review Group Meeting-Environmental Warfare (2), August 28, 1974)

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