Richard Nixon photo

Toasts of the President and General Secretary Brezhnev at a Dinner at the Soviet Embassy

June 21, 1973

Mr. General Secretary, our hosts from the Soviet Union, and all of our friends from the United States:

We want to express our appreciation to you, Mr. General Secretary, and to our hosts for this splendid dinner. There is a saying in our country on occasion when one is a guest, "Make yourself at home." Tonight we had that somewhat reversed, because Mrs. Dobrynin told me that all the things that were served tonight, including the wines in this magnificent banquet, were brought from the Soviet Union. So we had a chance this evening to be, in a sense, in the Soviet Union, and we thank her for her thoughtfulness in giving us that opportunity.

On this occasion, I am reminded of the fact that it marks several events. This is the last day that Secretary Rogers will be 59 years of age. He will be 60 tomorrow, so we wish him a happy birthday in advance.

Also, Mr. General Secretary, this happens to be the 33d wedding anniversary for Mrs. Nixon and me, and we appreciate your arranging this dinner on this occasion.

And, of course, as you know, all over the world, June 21 is the longest day in the year. I remember just a little over a year ago a very long day, almost as long as the longest day in the year. Just before midnight, Mr. General Secretary, you and I signed the first agreement on limiting nuclear arms in the Kremlin. To show how our relations have moved forward since that time, we signed the second agreement with regard to limiting nuclear arms at 12:30, in the middle of the day, today.

And in addition to that, as you pointed out in your remarks, we signed a parallel agreement with regard to cooperation in the field of the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

You have spoken eloquently about these two agreements. There is little I can add except to say that all of us know that this enormous source of nuclear power can either destroy the world or it can build a new world with the peaceful energy which can be unleashed for the benefit of all mankind.

Today we have taken a very important step in limiting the power of destruction and in unleashing the power of creation.

As idealistic men--and I know, Mr. General Secretary, from our long talks in Moscow and the talks we have had at Camp David and here in Washington, we both share the ideal of building a world of peace--we are pleased with the progress we have made so far in the agreements that we have signed in limitation of nuclear arms. But as practical men--as we are both practical men--we realize that we have taken two steps, but there is still a long way to go. We recognize that we must dedicate ourselves toward going further in not only limiting this great power of destruction but also of eventually, we trust, reducing the burden of arms which bears down so heavily on the world and on our two peoples.

This will not come easily. It will come only after extensive negotiation. But with continued contact, with continued discussion such as the kind of discussions that we have had on this occasion and in Moscow a year ago, we can move forward in that direction between our two countries and thereby set an example for other countries in the world. And for that reason, it is with a great deal of pleasure that I accept the very generous invitation you have extended for me to return to Moscow next year for a third meeting.

In that third meeting I will, of course, look forward to what will be my fifth visit to the Soviet Union, to see more of your country and to meet more of your people. But also I shall look forward again to the kind of discussions we have had on this occasion and concrete results toward the goal that we have dedicated ourselves to jointly on this occasion--the goal of not only better relations between our two countries, not only peace between our two countries, but recognizing the rights of all countries, large and small, to live in a world of peace without threat from any of their neighbors.

It is this goal to which we are dedicated. And if our two great countries can set an example in this direction and have concrete results following it in the various meetings that we will have, perhaps annually, it means that a great step will be taken toward the objective that we all share.

I would not for one moment suggest to this audience, or to those who may be listening on television or radio, that one meeting or two meetings at the summit brings instant peace, instant relaxation of tensions, and instant reduction or limitation of arms.

But I do know this: that these two summit meetings have brought us closer together, have brought greater understanding of our differences and greater determination to reduce those differences, and certainly, at the very least, to solve those differences without confrontation. And this, indeed, is an historic change in the relations between our two countries which the General Secretary and I are dedicated to continue.

And now, ladies and gentlemen here in the Soviet Embassy, it is my privilege to return the toast that the General Secretary has given.

On this occasion, I, in addition to asking you to drink to his health--he obviously being our host, being the ranking guest--I think it is appropriate also to drink to the health of those who have been in this city so many years, as the Ambassador, Ambassador Dobrynin, and Mrs. Dobrynin, to Foreign Minister Gromyko, who has also been in our city and knows our country so well, and so many others of our Soviet guests. You have made us feel, tonight, most welcome. And we can only say that as we drink to your health, we drink to it not simply in the casual way that one raises a glass of champagne, be it California or New York or French or, in this case, Russian champagne, but we drink to your health, having in mind what you have said and what I have tried to reaffirm: the desire of the two strongest nations in the world, through their top leaders, to work together for peace rather than for continued confrontation which could lead to destruction.

This is a goal worthy of great nations and it is a goal that we are proud, Mr. General Secretary, to work with you so that we can achieve it for the benefit of the Soviet people, of the American people, and all of the people of this world.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, since we can't repeat all those words in raising our glasses, may I suggest, to Mr. Brehnev and to Mrs. Brezhnev, who could not be here but who talked on the telephone with him today, to their children, and all of our children.

Mr. Brezhnev.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 11 p.m. in the Golden Hall of the Soviet Embassy in response to a toast proposed by the General Secretary.

General Secretary Brezhnev spoke in Russian. His remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows:

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

Tonight it is my very pleasant duty to welcome you, Mr. President, and your wife, and members of the U.S. Government, and other distinguished American guests here at the Soviet Embassy in Washington.

On behalf of my comrades and myself, I would like first of all to cordially thank you personally, Mr. President and Mrs. Nixon, and other members of your family, for the warmth and consideration with which you have been surrounding us from the very start of our visit to your country.

At the same time, I would like to say that we are grateful to all Americans who have shown their friendly feelings toward us and taken a lively interest in our visit and our negotiations. In all this, we see a confirmation of the respect harbored by the people of the United States toward Soviet people and evidence of the mutual desire of our two peoples to live together in peace and friendship.

An awareness of our high duty and responsibility is permeating the entire course of our meetings. Our talks bear the hallmark of a vigorous pace, a broad scope, and a businesslike and constructive spirit. Each day, all this is yielding tangible results, bringing us closer to the jointly set objectives of securing a further major advance in the development of Soviet-American relations, of lessening the threat of war, and of strengthening peace and security on our planet.

The contribution made by our two nations to the attainment of this paramount goal will undoubtedly raise Soviet-American relations to a new level. In May of last year, we agreed that in the nuclear age there is no alternative to conducting relations between our countries on the basis of peaceful coexistence. We can now confidently say that this fundamental principle is being increasingly imbued with concrete substance.

We are convinced that the results of our talks will strengthen still more the relations of peace and mutual trust between the Soviet Union and the United States. At the same time, new vistas will be opened for the constructive development of those relations.

The new step forward which it has proved possible to take through joint efforts in so vitally important and at once so complex a problem as the limitation of Soviet and American strategic arms is also something that cannot fail to cause satisfaction.

The agreement achieved on the basic principles for further negotiations on this problem contains everything to give a new impetus and a clear direction to joint work on important agreements designed not only to curb but also to reverse the race of the most formidable and costly types of rocket nuclear arms, and thus to permit our countries to switch more resources to constructive purposes and use them to better man's life.

Atomic energy, too, must ever-increasingly serve the aims of peace. The readiness of our two nations to promote that objective through joint efforts has been reflected in the agreement on cooperation in the field of the peaceful uses of atomic energy, which President Nixon and I also signed today.

In pursuance of the line jointly initiated during last year's meeting in Moscow, a new series of agreements on cooperation between the U.S.S.R. and the United States in several other fields of science, technology, and culture was signed in the course of this visit. This we also value highly. It will give Soviet-American relations still greater diversity and stability. At the same time, we are sure the development of such cooperation will benefit other peoples, too, since it is aimed at solving problems that are important for all mankind.

Of course, in the relations between our two countries there are still quite a few outstanding problems and, I would say, some unfinished business. In particular, this relates to the sphere of strategic arms limitation and also to commercial and economic matters.

We are optimists, and we believe that the very course of events and an awareness of concrete interests will prompt the conclusion that the future of our relations rests on their comprehensive and mutually advantageous development for the benefit of the present and coming generations.

But I wish especially to emphasize that we are convinced that on the basis of growing mutual confidence, we can steadily move ahead. We want the further development of our relations to become a maximally stable process and, what is more, an irreversible one.

Mr. President, in our discussions--and we value their businesslike and constructive character--I have already had an opportunity to tell you--and I want to repeat this for the benefit of all the American guests present here tonight--that the Soviet Union's line at improving relations with the United States is not some temporary phenomenon. It is a firm and consistent line reflecting the permanent principles of Soviet foreign policy formulated by the great founder of the Soviet State, V. I. Lenin. It is a line that rests on the full support of our people.

Soviet people believe that most Americans, too, approve of the jointly initiated line aimed at strengthening peace and cooperation between the peoples of the Soviet Union and of the United States.

Unfortunately, the tight schedule of our talks has not left me much of a chance to learn more about your great country and to get a closer look at the life of Americans. But the little I have managed to see seemed to me to be very interesting, indeed. To some extent, I hope to be able to fill in that gap when, at your invitation, Mr. President, we go to the west coast of the United States, to California, long famous for the beauty of its nature and, more recently, for its surging industrial development.

I would like to use this very pleasant opportunity, when we are all together here at the Soviet Embassy, to confirm the invitation conveyed to you, Mr. President, on behalf of the Presidium of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet and the Soviet Government to make an official visit to the Soviet Union in 1974. I am confident that your new trip to the Soviet Union will also mark another important stage in the successful development of relations between our two countries. We will be happy to repay the hospitality shown to us by the President, the Government, and the people of the United States.

And permit me to express the hope that this time, Mr. President, you will familiarize yourself more closely with our country, and with its nature, and with the life of Soviet people.

The cause of developing Soviet-American relations is, indeed, moving forward. In 2 years, Soviet and American astronauts will fly into outer space to carry out the first major joint experiment in man's history. Now, they know that from up there in space, our planet looks even more beautiful, though small. It is big enough for us to live in peace, but too small to be subjected to the threat of nuclear war.

I shall be making no mistake if I say that the spirit of our talks, and the main direction of our joint efforts, were determined by an awareness of one major factor: Everything must be done for the peoples of the world to live free from war, to live in security, cooperation, and communication with one another. That is the imperative command of the times, and to that aim we must dedicate our joint efforts.

Allow me to propose this toast to the health of the President of the United States of America and Mrs. Nixon, to the further success of the great cause which we have succeeded in advancing during our present meeting, to the docking, on Earth as well as in outer space, of man's efforts and talents for the good of the peoples, to peace, friendship, and cooperation between the Soviet and American peoples, to peace throughout the world.

[At this point, the President responded to the General Secretary's toast. The General Secretary then resumed speaking.]

Mr. President, and ladies and gentlemen, and dear guests:

Believe me, I am not trying to make a new, long toast. [Laughter] But let me just add to the kind words said here by the President and to what I said a little earlier that great ideas bear fruit in the form of a great will and great energy and vigor, and I, therefore, want to assure you, Mr. President, and the American Government, and the American people--and I trust that the President will reciprocate my feelings--that we, for our part, will go on working towards this great goal that we have set ourselves with great vigor and energy--a great goal that we both mentioned in our remarks a little while ago.

And, therefore, permit me yet again, with great sincerity, to ask you to join me in a toast to the very good health of the President and to the great vigor of both our countries in our efforts to reach our goal of peace and cooperation.

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

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives