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Toasts of the President and Aleksei N. Kosygin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers, at a Dinner in Moscow Honoring Soviet Leaders

May 26, 1972

Mr. General Secretary Brezhnev, Mr. Chairman of the Presidium, Mr. Chairman of the Council of Ministers, and all of our distinguished guests:

This house, which is the American Embassy, is greatly honored tonight by the presence of our Soviet guests.

I say this not only because of your rank, the leaders of the great Soviet people, but also because of the boundless hospitality you have extended to all of us on our visit to Moscow. We look forward to the time when we shall be able to welcome you in our country and in some way respond in an effective manner to the way in which you have received us so generously in your country.

This has been described as a visit of the summit. But as we all know, there are many summits in the world. This is the first meeting. There will be others.

And now this is, of course, an evening that will always be remembered in this house for another reason: Tonight at 11 o'clock there will be signed an historic agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States.

It is an agreement which will limit strategic arms between the two most powerful nations in the world. It is an enormously important agreement, but again it is only an indication of what can happen in the future as we work toward peace in the world. But I have great hopes on that score.

The Soviet people and the American people demonstrated over 25 years ago how they could fight together to win a war. And now in our meetings this week, and particularly culminating in the signing of this agreement tonight, we shall demonstrate to the world how these two great peoples, the Soviet people and the American people, can work together to build a peace.

Every leader of a nation wonders at times how he will be remembered in history. But, as I have met with the top Soviet leaders--with General Secretary Brezhnev, with Chairman Kosygin, with Chairman Podgorny--I am convinced of this fact: We want to be remembered by our deeds, not by the fact that we brought war to the word, but by the fact that we made the world a more peaceful one for all peoples in the world.

It is in that spirit that, here in the American Embassy, we all proudly raise our glasses to the leaders of the Soviet peoples and to the great cause of peace-peace between our two countries and peace for all peoples to which we think this visit, this meeting, has contributed and will contribute in the future.

Note: The President spoke at 9:25 p.m. in Spaso House. He spoke from a prepared text.

Chairman Kosygin responded in Russian. A translation of the text of his remarks was made available by the TASS news service as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, esteemed guests:

On behalf of the Soviet guests present here I would like to express gratitude to President Richard Nixon and his wife, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. and his wife who have invited us here to the Embassy to mark this memorable occasion.

Today is the end of the working week which was devoted to talks between the President of the United States and the Soviet leaders--the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, L. I. Brezhnev, the President of the Presidium of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet, N. V. Podgorny, the Chairman of the U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers. Like the President, we positively assess the work done. It will be continued.

The talks held made it possible to reveal more precisely both the fields in which it is possible to develop cooperation and the fields where the stands of the two states are at variance, since the U.S.S.R. and the United States objectively represent different social economic systems in the world. It seems to us that both sides realistically appraise possible prospects of cooperation.

A number of Soviet-American agreements, bound to serve peaceful aims, have been signed these days. We have agreed, specifically, on pooling the efforts of our countries in environmental protection, in peaceful exploration and mastering of outer space, in cooperation in the fields of science and technology, medicine and public health.

We are having an exchange of opinions of questions of development of trade and other economic ties between the two countries. It is obvious that realistic solutions can also be found here, solutions which would reflect mutual interest in normalization and widening of economic exchanges in keeping with the generally accepted international practice.

Today the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Leonid Brezhnev, and the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, are to sign in the Kremlin joint documents on the limitation of strategic arms. Agreement on these questions, we hope, will go down in history as a major achievement on the road towards curbing the arms race. It has become possible only on the basis of strict observance of the principle of equal security of the sides and the inadmissibility of any unilateral advantages. This is a great victory for the Soviet and American peoples in the matter of easing international tension, this is a victory for all peace-loving peoples, because security and peace is their common goal.

Whether peace becomes stronger as a result of our talks, concerns, of course, not the Soviet Union and the United States alone, however great their influence in the world, but will depend on all other peoples and states as well. Of little worth would be the decisions about which we have agreed or may agree, were they contrary to the legitimate interests of other states, the interests of their security and independence. It is not to decide for other peoples and countries that we are meeting with the President of the United States at the conference table.

During these talks the Soviet Union and the United States are seeking approaches to a settlement of international problems bearing directly on the two states, in the interests of the peace and security of the peoples. We are making serious steps in this direction. But in order to advance confidently towards the goal of a lasting peace, everything possible should be done to eliminate the existing hotbeds of war in Vietnam and in the Middle East on the basis of strict respect for the rights of the peoples to independent development, to noninterference in their internal affairs, to the inviolability of their state territories.

We would like to express the hope that stronger peace for the people of the Soviet Union, for the people of the United States of America, for all the peoples of the world, will be the main outcome of the Soviet-American talks.

How effectively the agreements and understandings reached are translated into life and serve peace will be, of course, of great importance. Any agreement, any treaty only then leaves a trace in history when its proclaimed principles and intentions become the content of the practical activities of states. So, may the agreements we reached be just such agreements.

We would like to express our deep respect for the great people of the United States of America with whom the Soviet people want to live in cooperation and peace. We ask President R. Nixon, upon returning home, to convey that this is our sincere and earnest desire.

May I ask all those present to join me in this toast to the American people, to the President of the United States of America, to Mrs. Nixon and all those accompanying the President, to peace and cooperation among the peoples.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Aleksei N. Kosygin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers, at a Dinner in Moscow Honoring Soviet Leaders Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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