Kissinger: Well, I saw Vorontsov and
I, and he said, "It was totally unnecessary. We got the message from the
President loud and clear yesterday.” And he said, "I can tell you
informally, if they're not working through the night in Moscow now
they're not doing their duty.”
Nixon: He said that?
Nixon: Was he not unfriendly?
Kissinger: Oh, no. We're going to get it.
Nixon: Well, I think that was the way to treat this fellow. I mean
they—it was good to have Vorontsov and Brezhnev's friend Matskevich to
see me in operation. Because they only have it from the other fellow.
They've had it from Gromyko. Now
Gromyko's seen it. But with
Gromyko, I was unable—that
was an occasion where I had to lay anything out for him.
Nixon: Dobrynin has seen it.
Nixon: He's seen a little—they've got to know, Henry.
Kissinger: Vorontsov said, he couldn't have been stronger. I showed him the
secret treaty. I said, "Now, I hope you understand the significance of
this. This isn't just an obligation. It will completely defuse the
Democrats because they are not going to attack their own President.” So
I said, "When the President yesterday spoke of an obligation, he was
speaking of a Kennedy
Nixon: What'd he say? Did he look at it?
Kissinger: Oh, yeah. And he wrote. And he said within an hour this will be
on Mr. Brezhnev's desk. And I
told him we're moving some military forces, but it will not be visible
until Sunday night, so you have till; in effect it was giving him sort
of a veiled ultimatum. And—
Nixon: Well, the other, if Brezhnev does not have the good judgment not to push us
to the wall on this miserable issue—
Kissinger: He'll do it on something else.
Nixon: We just may as well forget the summit. That's the way it is.
Kissinger: Well, now something that I have to do, Mr. President, I have to
give State a brief summary of these exchanges otherwise they'll go crazy
at the UN with this immediate tactical
situation. And I can do it with Alex
Johnson, and he'll keep it quiet.
Nixon: Well, what do they want to do with it?
Nixon: What is the situation now? Where do, you're going to what, you're
going to urge the Chinese to take action.
Kissinger: Right. What I think is that by Sunday we're going to have the
ceasefire. Sunday night or Monday.
Nixon: And the Indians will agree?
Kissinger: Yeah, I think that the Russians would agree with us to call for
Nixon: Well if the Russians, the ideal situation is if the Russians
agree with us. But I don't, but don't leave the Chinese out in left
Kissinger: No, I'm seeing them tonight.
Nixon: Then you've got to sell them on the idea so that they don't
attack us for joining with the Russians—
Kissinger: No, because we got Yahya, what we are proposing to the Russians
Yahya gave us. See I got in touch with Yahya yesterday after you had
talked to Matskevich. I sent an extract from the Brezhnev letter. I said, "Now, here are
the pros and cons. We know what the Russians are after. On the other
hand, the basic problem now is to preserve your army. This may be a way
of doing it. We are saying this as a friend. We are not pressing you or
urging it. What do you want?" Now he came back with a formulation—
Kissinger: Which is very close to ours. And which is very close to what we
can live with. And I've now given that to the Russians. Verbatim, the
way he gave it, saying we're willing to support that. I didn't say it
came from Pakistan. I said, "That's ours.” It's very close to what you
said to this fellow yesterday. Of course, if I had said it came from—I
said, "We'll support this with Pakistan.” Now the question is what
they're going to do.
Nixon: Now the main thing is to keep State the hell out of the act now
in the UN, right?
Kissinger: Yeah, but that's the only way I get that done is to tell
Johnson, "Now just cool it.”
Nixon: And you're going to tell them we're talking to the Russians?
Nixon: That's what you're going to tell them?
Kissinger: That's right.
Nixon: Are you going to tell them you are going to talk to the Chinese?
Nixon: Fine. We're talking to the Russians and that I had this—okay,
fine. And we want to handle it on that basis. Now Rogers is going to get back
Kissinger: He's going to raise hell, but that's going to be too late.
Nixon: Would raise hell why? On what grounds?
Nixon: What's happening that he could raise hell about?
Kissinger: No, nothing. And it's great that it all happened while he was
Nixon: Well, that was good. That was the point. That's the reason I've
been pressing to get it done. I don't want to have to explain it all to
Kissinger: We can put it all on the basis that he was gone and we didn't
trust anyone else to know. And I got Alex
Johnson in just enough so that he could control the
situation while Rogers was gone.
So I think this will work well.
Nixon: [unclear] Can't you do it in the UN at this point? Because then—
Kissinger: We need the Russian reply.
Nixon: Will be able to embarrass. If we don't want to have the Russians
say no at the UN. And then the UN would be impotent.
Kissinger: Well, I don't mind having the Russians say no after they've had a
chance to consider it. But we don't want to get them to say no before.
Now I've talked to the Ambassador here, to the Pak, and told him now to
just cool it now for 24 hours until we get the Russian reply. He's
getting his man in New York under control. It's going to work out, Mr.
President, unless the Indians, you put well: if the Russians are
determined to humiliate us somewhere, they can now do it. Except it's a
cheap area to do it and we are not that closely tied into it. It's not
our obligation, we've never—but then we might as well know it. But it's
a hard lesson for them to learn because we might just let the Israelis
do to the Egyptians what, you know, this is going to be the ballgame. In
the Middle East, our ally is stronger than theirs.
[Omitted here is conversation unrelated to South Asia.]
1Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes,
Recording of conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, Oval Office, Conversation No. 635–17. No
classification marking. The editor transcribed the conversation
published here specifically for this volume.