148. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1


  • Two telegrams from Ambassador Goldberg
I attach two telegrams from Arthur Goldberg to you which he has written at my suggestion2 after telling me on the phone this morning of his conversation with Dobrynin.
One of his cables3 mentions the problem of getting a quick answer to the pen-pal message which Dobrynin delivered last week.4 We are working on this and expect to have a State Department draft at the first of the week. These things always take time because the State Department has considerable internal resistance to this channel, but I agree with Dobrynin that it is important to make a prompt answer, and we will do so. A couple of weeks for an important topic of this sort is not too much.5
Goldberg’s other telegram6 reflects a regular refrain of Dobrynin’s. I am inclined to agree that an occasional private message from [Page 370]a White House staff officer is useful. I think, for example, that before we end the pause it may be helpful for me to have a second lunch7 with Dobrynin to point out how much more we have done than he asked for. But I think it will be better not to go quite as far as people sometimes did in 1961–63.
McG. B.


Message From the Ambassador to the Mission to the United Nations (Goldberg) to President Johnson

In a telegram to the Secretary of State I have reported on a conversation with Ambassador Dobrynin at a private dinner at his house in Washington last night pursuant to his invitation which I accepted after consultation with Secretary Ball. I have asked that this telegram be passed to the White House for your information (attached).9

In addition to matters reported, Dobrynin privately said to me he regretted very much there was no informal line of communication between the White House and himself on important matters affecting Soviet-American relations. He said that during President Kennedy’s administration such informal channel existed in the presence of the then Attorney General. He quickly added that because of Senator Kennedy’s present position this obviously is no longer feasible but emphasized that another channel would in his opinion be helpful. He went on to say this did not in any way denigrate from his very cordial and close relations with the Secretary of State and Ambassador Thompson. Rather his point was that Soviet leaders felt reassured if another channel to the President was open to them.

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Lest there be any misunderstanding concerning my reporting this to you, I hasten at this point to say I do not regard myself to be the appropriate channel for this purpose.

If you think well of the idea at all, and you are in a better position to assess the desirability of such a channel than I am, I should think it ought to be someone on your staff in whose discretion you have complete confidence and who is in daily touch with you. Bill Moyers, Jack Valenti, or any other of your trusted aides could be such a channel.

I merely report this to you for your information.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President-McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 18. Secret.
  2. The President circled “my suggestion” and wrote “good” above it.
  3. Telegram 3131 from New York, January 15; not printed.
  4. The message from Kosygin to Johnson, delivered by Dobrynin to Ball on January 11, dealt with the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons and MLF. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XI, Document 108. In forwarding it to the President, Bator noted that it was first pen pal message from Kosygin since February 1965 (Document 90). (Memorandum to the President, January 12; Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, Pen Pal Correspondence, Kosygin)
  5. Johnson’s answer, which Thompson delivered to Dobrynin on January 24, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XI, Document 116.
  6. See attachment.
  7. Johnson circled “a second lunch” and wrote “I agree” below it. Bundy discussed the bombing pause with Dobrynin on January 18. A memorandum of the conversation is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Bundy Files, Memos of Conversation, Bundy, 1964–66.
  8. Secret; Nodis. The text is from telegram 151855Z from USUN to the White House, January 15, 1:55 p.m., which was retyped in the White House specially for the President. The time on the source text is presumable the time it was retyped in the White House. A copy of the telegram is ibid., Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 3.
  9. See footnote 3 above.