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Toasts of the President and General Secretary Brezhnev at a Dinner in Moscow Honoring Soviet Leaders

July 02, 1974

Mr. General Secretary Brezhnev, President Podgorny, Prime Minister Kosygin, and all of our distinguished guests from the Soviet Union and our guests from the United States:

Mr. General Secretary, it is difficult to express in words how much we have appreciated the hospitality, the boundless hospitality, you have extended to all of us from our American party. And we are honored to have you in this house tonight.

As we look back over the last 5 days, we have many unforgettable memories: the magnificent dinner the first night in the Kremlin; the superb performance at the Bolshoi Theater which, in effect, allowed us through music, through dance, through song to visit virtually all of the Soviet Union; and then, the first opportunity that most of us have had, and certainly the first opportunity I have had, to go to the Crimea, to Oreanda, and then yesterday the visit to Minsk.

The difficulty with our position at this point is that your hospitality has been so great we do not know how to equal it when you make your next visit to the United States just a year from now. But I can assure you that you will be received warmly and that we expect next year to continue on the path of progress which began just 2 years ago on my first visit as President to Moscow in 1972.

Tomorrow we will sign the final documents of our meetings. Altogether with the other documents that we have agreed to, they will add up to a very significant progress in Soviet-American relations, progress toward our common goals of reducing the danger of war and increasing the hopes for and actually the products of peace, the benefits of peace for all of our people.

Yesterday, when I visited the famous memorial at Minsk, many thoughts went through my head. I referred earlier in the television address to the village blacksmith, Kaminsky, holding his dead 15-year old son in his hands. I thought of many things, but above all, what that young boy whose life was snuffed out at such an early age might have been had he lived. Possibly there was a great scientist, one who could possibly have composed great music or created beautiful works of art, or one who in the field of medicine might have found an answer to the problem of cancer or one of the other dread diseases which afflict all of mankind.

And as I think of our work together with you and your colleagues, I realize that we are working for the future of our children, our grandchildren, and for all of those who live throughout the world.

Our goal will not be accomplished in one meeting or two or even three. But by continuing our close consultation, by continuing our meetings, we will make definite progress toward our goal of a permanent peace between our two nations and for all people.

None of this would have been possible in the past or will be possible in the future unless it was supported, as it is, by a majority of our people. I know from my visit to the Soviet Union that your policies are supported by a great majority of the Soviet people, your policies looking toward the reduction of the dangers of war and increasing the opportunities for peace. And I can assure you, Mr. General Secretary, that our policies, looking toward closer relations and friendship, not only with the Soviet people but with the leaders of this government, has the support of the great majority of the American people.

And finally, I would say that the progress that we have made and will make in the future not only was possible and will be possible because of the support of our people, it is possible and will be possible because of the initiative taken by the leaders of both countries.

And all of us who have had the opportunity to meet with you and members of your government have valued the personal relations and the personal friendship that has been established by these meetings. And whatever our differences, we must recognize they could never be solved unless we met as friends.

And so, tonight, in proposing the health of the General Secretary, the President, President Podgorny, Prime Minister Kosygin, and to all of our Soviet guests, I do so in the spirit of friendship that has developed over these past 2 years.

We raise our glasses to you because of your official capacities, but more important, we raise our glasses to you because we are friends and because we know that that friendship and that personal relationship that we have at all levels will contribute toward the lasting peace that the peoples of both of our countries want so much.

And so, to the health of the General Secretary Brezhnev and all of our other distinguished Soviet guests, to friendship between the Soviet people and the American people, and to peace for all peoples which that friendship can help create, I ask all of you to rise and raise your glasses.

Note: The President spoke at 9:24 p.m. at Spaso House, the residence of the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

General Secretary Brezhnev responded to the President's toast in Russian. His remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows:

Esteemed Mr. President, esteemed Mrs. Nixon, ladies and gentlemen, comrades:

First of all, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your friendly words and wishes addressed to our country and its people. The Soviet people, on their part, entertain feelings of respect and friendship for the American people. We are sure that these mutual good feelings will grow and strengthen as the relations between our countries develop further along the road of peace and cooperation.

Your visit, Mr. President, as well as our talks, are drawing to a close. You and we already have every reason to say that the results of this meeting, like the outcome of the two previous ones, can be described as constructive and weighty. I am referring first of all to the new steps in a field which may rightfully be called central in Soviet-American relations, the field of lessening the risk of war and restraining the arms race.

The signing of several important agreements and of the joint communiqué on the talks between the leaders of the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. is still to come. Without anticipating the concrete content of those documents, I should just like to stress that agreement on such matters as a new considerable limitation of the antiballistic missile systems of the two countries, the agreed limitation of underground nuclear tests, new efforts aimed at the further limitation of strategic offensive arms, and several other measures all mean a substantial advance along the jointly charted path of consolidating peace and mutual confidence.

This complex could perhaps have been still broader, but what has been agreed upon this time tangibly strengthens and deepens the relaxation of international tension and serves the cause of peace throughout the world.

A further progressive development of Soviet-American relations is also betokened by the agreements on expanding commercial and economic and scientific and technological cooperation between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. signed during our meeting.

Ahead lie new horizons and new spheres of cooperation to the benefit of both our great peoples and of peace-loving people in the entire world. In large scale economic projects and in the development of new sources of energy, on transportation lines, in scientists' laboratories, and in architects' designing rooms, everywhere new shoots of a fruitful, mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries will spring forth in the name of peace and a better life for man.

I trust you will agree with me, Mr. President, that these days have once more convincingly proved the significance that meetings at the highest level have for the development of Soviet-American relations in a good constructive direction. They facilitate the possibility of approaching on a broader basis, and with due account of the historical perspective and the lasting interests of the peoples, the solution of many problems, including the most difficult and complicated ones, and they give an impetus to all the links of state machinery and to the representatives of both sides at different levels.

In this connection, I feel we should express our gratitude to all the officials of our diplomatic, foreign trade, and other departments, agencies, and organizations who, on the instructions of their superiors, took part in the great and painstaking work to prepare this meeting and the appropriate agreements.

I would like to say a few words more about our talks on international problems. As during our previous meetings with President Nixon, they were thorough, quite frank, and useful. Given all the differences of views and positions of our two countries on a number of specific questions, both the Soviet and, evidently, the American participants in the talks have treated and continue to treat as a matter of paramount importance joint or parallel efforts by the Soviet Union and the United States to strengthen universal peace and create conditions for the peaceful cooperation of all states in the spirit of the well-known principles of peaceful coexistence and the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

The last 2 years have already shown the useful influence that the improvement of Soviet-American relations may have in this sense. It has certainly played a positive role in ending the war in Vietnam and in creating conditions for certain progress towards a peaceful settlement in the Middle East and in convening the European conference.

Now the task, as we see it, is successfully to complete what has been started and to ensure that the development of Soviet-American relations continues to be beneficial for universal peace and for the security of nations.

I feel it will be no exaggeration to say that the political results of our talks will be a new confirmation of the determination of both sides to go on developing and deepening ties and cooperation between our two countries in many fields and to act on the international scene in favor of detente and peace. This is exactly what we expected from the talks, and that is why we express our satisfaction with their results.

We appreciate the contribution that you have made, Mr. President, to the achievement of these results. And we wish you and the entire Administration and the Congress of the United States every success in giving effect to the good initiatives of peace, growing mutual confidence, and useful cooperation embodied in the documents signed in the days of this meeting, as well as in those Soviet-American documents that were signed last year and the year before last.

You may rest assured that the leadership of the Soviet Union, fully supported by the entire Soviet people, will do all in their power in this direction. We are glad, Mr. President, that Mrs. Nixon and you have returned from your trip to the Crimea and to Byelorussia with good impressions.

For my part, I want to say that I remember with gratification my stay in the United States last summer, and I thank you, Mr. President, for the invitation to pay a new visit to the United States next year.

Availing myself of this occasion, I wish to congratulate you, Mr. President, on the coming national day of the United States, Independence Day, and to wish the American people peace, happiness, and well-being.

I propose a toast to the health of the President of the United States of America, Richard Nixon, and Mrs. Nixon, to the further development of relations of friendship and cooperation between the Soviet and American peoples, to a lasting peace between all people.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and General Secretary Brezhnev at a Dinner in Moscow Honoring Soviet Leaders Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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