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Gromyko: If you set an inner limit, then the agreement to exchange information falls and there can be no progress in the negotiations. Frankly, the agreement on exchanging information was not simple for us. I would say that this is not a usual step for the Soviet Union to take. Secretary: I agree with that but, as you know, we publish every

: thing. I can still remember Smirnoff's face when I described the characteristics to him of your SS/9. But you managed to calm him down.

Gromyko: Then we will wait for your reply.

Secretary: Now let us turn to the Middle East. I don't want to try to find a solution now but I would like you to sum up once again what it is you want. (Before we have the translation I must say that you are hard to please. At first you accused us of not doing enough over the last six years and now you tell us we are doing too much.

Gromyko: Not quite.)
Gromyko: Let us proceed from the following basic understanding:

1. In all questions pertaining to the Middle East, the Soviet Union and the United States will act in a coordinated way. Both Powers will take part in the consideration and solution of these problems.

Secretary: I can imagine the rest.
Gromyko: 2. Syrian disengagement.

Secretary: By those problems do you mean the overall peace settlement?

Gromyko: Yes in the broadest sense to include all matters.

2. Disengagement. With respect to the disengagement between Syria and Israel, the Soviet Union and the United States and, of course, Syria and Israel and Egypt, if it wishes to participate, should take part in the consideration of this question. But in practice this is only possible after the Syrians say that what the Israelis have proposed can serve as a basis for further discussion. If the Syrians say that there is no basis to proceed, then it is pointless to have a meeting.

3. If it is seen by the Syrians that there is a basis—cause for the group to meet, then such a meeting should take place within the framework of the Geneva forum. We have discussed this with the Syrians and they are prepared to do this and I can assure you that it was no simple matter to get them to agree.

4. It is important to secure a positive outcome to the disengagement process. The United States is in a position to influence Israel I am convinced of that and your President intimated as much. Therefore, you should bring your influence to bear on Israel to get it to take a reasonable attitude (a) to secure a withdrawal which is not just symbolic but involves a substantial part of Syrian territory and (b) that that withdrawal should be an integral part of the total withdrawal and general settlement. I trust that this presents no difficulty. Disengagement must be part of a general settlement.

5. Withdrawal is withdrawal. The overall settlement still lies ahead. We can continue our consultations every day. You and I can meet. Dobrynin can meet with you. But the Geneva Conference is the appropriate forum for the overall settlement and it has been paralyzed. Therefore, we should move in parallel with our bilateral conversations to reactivate the Geneva Conference. I emphasize that this should not impede our talks.

6. We could specifically reach understandings with regard to the way we should move ahead. We can meet together in Geneva-so that neither of us has to travel too long a distance. We could meet there bilaterally to exchange information and see where things stand. We could agree on how things could be moved forward or chart future steps. There would be no secret about these discussions. We could announce them. Perhaps we could meet in two or three weeks or a month from


7. (And like Beatrice in Dante, this may represent the Seventh Heaven), We—the United States and the Soviet Union-should agree to reaffirm our decision to act in agreed, concerted, coordinated, joint way or whatever word you wish to use. What better way to keep in touch and consult with all the appropriate relevant countries in the interests of world détente and peace in the Middle East. This procedure would assure the independence and sovereignty of all. And I would be willing to mention Israel too. I would say this out loud. I would not be shy about it. Perhaps our present meeting could put out a statement to this effect. Israel should not shrink or shudder about this very idea. They should have no cause to do so. We have no intention of pulling the

rug out from under the existence of Israel. At the table there will be no name calling. You should convince them that this is so. What matters is that we begin the process.

There are other matters, of course, beside complete withdrawal such as Jerusalem, Gaza and the Palestinian question. But if we have a framework it will be easier to deal with these problems later. It is easier to influence the parties at the same table. By the way, we favor having the Palestinians in Geneva but we do not wish to make that decision now. We can discuss it later in our consultations.

Secretary: Tomorrow we can talk more about this. In the meantime I will study the seven points you have raised. You object to the United States acting separately but most of your concern is about form. Nothing has happened to embarrass the Soviet Union. We don't want to enter a process where one side makes itself the lawyer for one or more of the parties and we don't want a process which enables either side to achieve unilateral advantage. We have been greatly concerned

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about the Syrian disengagement. We are attempting to get some withdrawal behind the October 6 line. We have not been successful yet.

If that is what you call symbolic, and you think more can be done I want to tell you that that is the maximum we think is possible. We are afraid that meetings will lend themselves to great agitation. We know what can be achieved. We are not looking for symbolic moves. What we will do is try to get the maximum obtainable. Both of us want to have a constructive attitude of cooperation and neither of us wishes to take unilateral advantage. But we must have a separation in form as well as in substance.

Your idea of a meeting in Geneva strikes me as a good one. We can set the time in the next few days. On your other points I will study them. I am not sure I can remember them all. I am not opposed to convening the Geneva Conference after the Syrian disengagement. To clarify the problem you said on the one hand there should be joint negotiations on disengagement but the peace settlement should take place under the framework of the Geneva Agreement. The only issue is the Syrian disengagement. We agree to re-open the Geneva Conference after that. With respect to the disengagement we can't move until Syria has an indication of an acceptable Israeli proposal. I can visualize a continuing process in which we try to elicit an Israeli proposal and then we agree to work out the modalities of disengagement in some military commission in Geneva.

Gromyko: That is correct.

Secretary: I would like to explore this more thoroughly. This is actually close to what I had thought of suggesting to you. Let me sum up. 1) We should meet in Geneva in two or three weeks. 2) After the Syrian disengagement we will re-open the Geneva Conference. 3) To proceed with Syrian disengagement we will seek a line from Israel that is acceptable to Syria in principle. The modalities will be worked out in a larger framework.

Gromyko: We can discuss it. If the Syrians accept the basis they don't necessarily have to sit at the table. What we are looking for are practical arrangements for Syria and Israel to meet with both of us being fully informed. We do not wish to cause trouble by our presence. Israel is just making up this story. That is a primitive idea of the Israelis.

Secretary: 1) As I told you we are realistic on this matter. Neither of us should seek unilateral advantage over the other. 2) As realists we also know that all the parties in the area will try to take advantage by creating rivalry between us. It is a mistake for us to fall for this. People will change but our policy should not be to take unilateral advantage. 3) (Gromyko interrupts)

Gromyko: Not words but deeds.

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Secretary: On both sides. We know that our diplomatic activity and coordination must be genuine.

3) On the Syrian problem we have a concern that Israel not produce an uproar and, therefore, that we do not introduce extraneous issues. Our biggest concern is to get a line that Syria can accept. Other details are not fundamental. Therefore, it is not a question of closing our eyes to the Soviet Union. In the back of the Israeli minds I am sure they think they can benefit by our rivalry. I don't exclude that.

To sum up: 1) We should agree to act in a coordinated manner. 2) We should agree to meet in several weeks in Geneva. 3) We agree that the overall peace talks should take place in the Geneva framework. 4) On Syrian disengagement you have opened up the perspective of reaching agreement on a line and then working out the modalities.

Gromyko: Does Israel agree?

Secretary: We are using the same process with Israel as we did with Egypt, moving them along in a way that prevents a domestic ex

a plosion here. When we started out in Egypt and we were talking about Resolution 339 which talked about the October 22nd line, Mrs. Meir was so angry with me that she refused to talk to me all during dinner at the Israeli Embassy. You remember, Ken, you were there. Even though I was the guest of honor she conspicuously thanked all the Democrats present for their help. That was October 30. If we had talked on November first, I would have said that I had gotten nothing but, as you can see, we finally got them there. I think I can work this my way. No confrontation. No big plan. I hope I will succeed. If I fail, there will be some merry old times and an explosion. This is my view. I think if we can get a line and get the process moving that is what we need.

Gromyko: I will study what you have said. I have outlined our position in the clearest possible way.

175. Memorandum of Conversation


Geneva, April 28, 1974, 10–11:45 p.m.

Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo, Central Committee, CPSU, and

Minister for Foreign Affairs of the USSR
Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to the U.S.
Georgi M. Korniyenko, Member of the Collegium, Chief of USA Division,

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Counselor, MFA (Interpreter)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger
Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor, Department of State
Arthur Hartman, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
William A. Hyland, Director, INR
Robert J. McCloskey, Ambassador-at-Large
Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


CSCE; ABM Limitation; Threshold Test Ban; Environmental Warfare; Bilateral
Agreements; Jackson Amendment

[Photographers were admitted briefly at the beginning of the meeting.)

Kissinger: I saw Senator Kennedy yesterday. He says he saw an opening: He feels he could persuade you to accept a complete test ban, with an escape clause for China. He saw an opening!

Seriously, I think it was a very useful visit. (Gromyko smiles.] Seriously, even for our common objectives. Though he will be an opponent in '76, in the present debate he will be an ally against Jackson.

Gromyko: What shall I say? I will take notice of that. [Laughter] That is the most correct thing.

Judging by all the papers I see Dr. Kissinger and his aides have, I see you have a mass of things to raise. It seems a massive offensive on your part. [Laughter)

Kissinger: We thought it better to deal with all the issues except the Middle East and SALT tonight, and do those tomorrow.

Gromyko: I received your solemn message [to that effect]. [Laughter] I agree.

What do you suggest we take up first? ?

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 71, Country Files-Europe—USSR, Gromyko, 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Soviet Mission. Kissinger was in Geneva from April 28 to 29 to meet with Gromyko.

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