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Toasts of the President and Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at a Dinner in Moscow

June 27, 1974

Mr. General Secretary Brezhnev, President Podgorny, Premier Kosygin, all distinguished guests:

To you, Mr. General Secretary, on behalf of all of your American guests, I express our grateful appreciation for not only the hospitality you have extended to us tonight but for the very generous words of friendship you have just spoken.

And I am very gratified that I shall have the opportunity to see more of your great country on this visit, and I trust that on )-our next visit to the United States next year, you will be able to see more of our country as well.

All of us gathered here tonight are fortunate to be present at a moment of great historical significance. Two years ago in this place, we began a process which has resulted in a profound change in the relations between the two strongest nations in the world.

We have moved in those 2 years from confrontation to coexistence to cooperation. And while, as the General Secretary has correctly pointed out, we have many problems yet to negotiate on, the success of our negotiations to date gives a good indication of the progress we can and will make in this third summit meeting.

To see the extent of the progress that has been made, we can point to the fact that over the past 2 years, more agreements have been negotiated and signed between our two countries in those 2 years than in the entire history of the relations of our two countries up to that period.

And it is significant to note the character of those agreements. In part, they have dealt with the concern that both of our nations have with regard to the need to avoid war, and motivated by that desire--the desire to avoid war--we have begun the process of limiting nuclear arms.

And in 1973, we negotiated and signed the historic agreement with regard to the prevention of nuclear war. But that is only one side of the equation as far as our agreements are concerned. We both seek peace, but we seek peace that is more than simply the absence of war. We seek peace because of the positive progress it can bring to both of our peoples.

And that is why we have negotiated a number of agreements in the areas of peaceful progress. They are too numerous to mention, but they cover all fields of human endeavor: health, science, the environment, the peaceful exploration of space, agriculture. Many others could be added, but together what they mean is that both our great peoples now have a stake in peace from a positive standpoint.

We must still do everything that we can to negotiate those agreements that will lessen the burden of armaments and reduce the danger of war. But we must go further and add to this and to give to every individual in each of our countries a positive stake in peace, because it is in this way that two peoples with different systems of government can establish relationships that will not be broken in the future.

And it is also, I think, very worthwhile to note how these agreements were negotiated. They were possible because of a personal relationship that was established between the General Secretary and the President of the United States. And that personal relationship extends to the top officials in both of our governments.

It has been said that any agreement is only as good as the will of the parties to keep it. Because of our personal relationship, there is no question about our will to keep these agreements and to make more where they are in our mutual interests.

And also, we both can say that this new relationship between our two nations is overwhelmingly supported by the people of the Soviet Union and overwhelmingly supported by the people of the United States.

And now, looking to the future, we wonder how history will judge the leaders of these two nations and their people during this period. Too often in the past, history has judged those nations to be great which were engaged in aggressive war and in conquest. But what we are doing is establishing a record where the two strongest nations in the world and their leaders will seek greatness, not by what they might accomplish in war, but greatness by what they accomplish in the works of peace.

And without the cooperation of these two strongest nations in the world, the cooperation of both their leaders and their people, there can be no lasting peace in the world. And consequently, we believe that these meetings that we have had and those that we will have in the future will lead to our meeting the challenge of history for a strong nation to be remembered as a peacemaking nation rather than as a war-making nation.

Let this be our legacy for the generations ahead. And that is why I say that we should raise our glasses to our host, the General Secretary and his colleagues, to peace between the Soviet Union and the United States of America, and to peace for all peoples in the world, the peace to which the relations between our nations can make such an enormous contribution.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 8:45 p.m. in Granovit Hall at the Grand Kremlin Palace, in response to a toast proposed by General Secretary Brezhnev.

Earlier in the day, the President and Mrs. Nixon arrived in Moscow at Vnukovo II Airport and were greeted by General Secretary Brezhnev, President N. V. Podgorny, Premier A. N. Kosygin, Foreign Minister A. A. Gromyko, and Soviet Ambassador to the United States A. F. Dobrynin.

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

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

We are glad once again to greet here in the Kremlin as guests of the Soviet Union, the President of the United States of America and Mrs. Nixon, as well as the American statesmen accompanying the President.

This is already the third meeting between the leaders of our countries in just a little over 2 years since a cardinal turn became evident in Soviet-American relations towards normalization and the development of peaceful cooperation.

On the firm basis of the fundamental agreements which were signed in 1972 and 1973 and are known all over the world, we have made tangible progress. Probably never before have ties and contacts between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States in different areas of political, economic, and cultural activity been as lively as they are today.

Nowadays, thousands of people annually travel from America to the Soviet Union and from the Soviet Union to America. Mutual visits of ministers, contacts among businessmen, meetings between scientists and public figures, concert tours, various exhibitions, and tourist trips have become customary events. Parliamentary ties are beginning to develop.

We have been glad to welcome in the U.S.S.R. Senators and Congressmen belonging to the two biggest parties of the United States, and a delegation of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet recently visited America.

The material foundation of our good relations is becoming stronger as well. The volume of trade has increased several times over during the last 2 years, and several important long-term contracts have been signed.

At the same time, we all know that much remains to be done here, both in the sense of making economic ties more balanced and stable and in the sense of clearly establishing the principles of equality and respect for each other's interests in this area of relations. Credit is certainly due to those farsighted members of the business community of the United States who correctly understood the mutually advantageous nature of the development of economic ties between our countries and their importance for both our peoples and who actively support their government's line in this matter.

The biggest contribution, however, which we Soviet and U.S. statesmen of the seventies of the twentieth century can make to the cause of greater well-being and happiness for our peoples and for all mankind is undoubtedly the reduction and subsequently the complete removal of the possibility of war between our two states.

To insure stable peace between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. is the chief task in the development of Soviet-American relations, and the leaders of both countries are continuing to devote unflagging attention to its solution. For all the useful things that we can achieve in this direction, future generations will remember us with kind words.

If we fail to solve this task, however, all other achievements in the development of mutual relations may lose their significance.

The new Soviet-American summit meeting, as it is usually called, is a new step in the great endeavor which we jointly initiated with you, Mr. President, e years ago and which we resolutely intend to pursue, for it meets the fundamental interest of the peoples of the two countries and the interests of world peace.

Experience shows that progress along this path requires effort, sometimes quite a bit of it. The relaxation of tension in Soviet-American relations, as in international relations generally, comes up against rather active resistance. There is no need for me to dwell $n this subject since our American guests know better and in more detail than we about those who oppose international detente, who favor whipping up the arms race and returning to the methods and mores of the cold war.

I just want to express my firm conviction that the policy of such individuals--whether they themselves know it or not--has nothing in common with the interests of the peoples. It is a policy that attests most likely to the unwillingness or inability of its proponents to take a sober look at the realities of the present-day world.

We are confident, however, that the peoples will support those who seek to assure their peaceful future and a tranquil life for millions of people, not those who sow enmity and distrust. That is why we believe that the good results it has proved possible to achieve in Soviet-American relations in the last 2 years shall not be erased, particularly since their improvement has already justified itself and has in many respects given practical proof of its usefulness for both sides and for the world as a whole.

Today the task, as we see it, is to consolidate the successes already achieved and to advance further along the main road that we have jointly chosen to follow. The third round of Soviet-American summit talks has begun. We shall be discussing both the further development of bilateral relations and a number of international problems.

Although we have different viewpoints on several matters, we shall seek, and I feel not unsuccessfully, agreed ways toward the further consolidation of peace and mutually advantageous cooperation. I believe it can definitely be said that our talks will proceed in a businesslike and constructive spirit. We, for our part, express the hope that this time as well our meeting will be as fruitful as the preceding meetings in Moscow and Washington.

Esteemed Mr. President, I do hope that you and Mrs. Nixon feel well on Moscow soil in the Kremlin residence with which you are already familiar. Soon you will be seeing the southern coast of the Crimea, where on the Black Sea shores hundreds of thousands and even millions of our country's workers, farmers, and office employees annually spend their vacations at health resorts. I do hope you like the Crimea. We certainly love it.

For my part, I shall be glad to reciprocate to some extent the hospitality that was accorded to us last summer on the Pacific Coast in San Clemente. I trust that in the Crimea there will be no less comfortable a setting for quiet and productive discussions.

I also hope that the visit to the Hero City of Minsk, the capital of Soviet Byelorussia, will also be interesting for you, Mr. President. This title of honor has been conferred upon the Byelorussian capital for its outstanding feat of arms in the years of our joint struggle against the Hitlerite aggressors.

Of course, we would have liked you to see more of the Soviet Union and to travel around our country, but since you have not been able to make your visit a longer one, I should like to express the wish that it should prove to be at least as useful and pleasant as possible.

May I propose a toast to the health of the President of the United States, Mr. Richard Nixon, and Mrs. Nixon.

To the health of all the American guests present in this hall.

To peace and friendship between the peoples of the Soviet Union and the United States of America.

To lasting peace all over the world.

On June 28, 1974, in addition to meeting with Soviet officials, the President participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Aleksandrov Gardens. That evening, the President and Mrs. Nixon attended a performance at the Bolshoi Theater.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at a Dinner in Moscow Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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