218. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Kosygin’s Visit to the U.S.
- Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin
- Llewellyn E. Thompson, American Ambassador
I saw the Ambassador at 9:30 last night at his residence and gave him the following oral message from the President.
I said the President had himself had no word whether Chairman Kosygin was coming to our country or not.2 He wanted the Chairman to know that if so he would be welcome. The President would be glad for him to see our country and would offer him every hospitality. If Kosygin wished to see the President, he would be welcome to see him. He would invite him to visit him in the White House and would be glad to provide any type of hospitality or formality or informality that he would wish. If Mr. Kosygin wished to be away from the hurly-burly of a big city, the President would be glad to see him at Camp David where there would be facilities for any members of his party that he would wish to bring. This would give the opportunity for relaxed talks in a comfortable and isolated location.
The Ambassador said he would promptly transmit the message. When I asked whether he thought Kosygin would in fact wish to see the President, he replied that he had not really discussed this matter and could not venture an opinion. I said that I imagined that if the two did meet the Chinese Communists and probably the Arabs would accuse us of collusion, but it personally seemed to me that it would be useful for the two to meet. Dobrynin said that he had recommended to the Chairman that he come to New York as he had never been in the United States. He observed that we had opposed the calling of a special assembly. I said we had ourselves voted against it but had not tried to block it. We did not think that this was the way to deal seriously with the problem.
Dobrynin inquired whether the Secretary would head our delegation. I replied I did not know and thought it likely he would at least [Page 493] be in New York at some time during the proceedings. I said that in any event I thought I was sure that he would be happy to see Mr. Gromyko.
I said I thought it was a shame that the Soviets had not cooperated with us in the Middle East, for if they had we could have prevented the conflict. I said that I would not like to be in the shoes of their military attaché in Cairo as they seemed to have made some serious misjudgments. Dobrynin emphasized that they had not trained the Egyptians although their technicians had helped in the delivery of specific equipment which was in fact of excellent quality. They had not, however, in any way trained the Egyptians in the handling of large bodies of troops. He also pointed out that most of the Egyptian planes had been destroyed on the ground. He asked why the Israeli had attacked and suggested that our people in Tel Aviv had surely been informed. I denied this vigorously and said the Israeli had promised us that they would not attack for a period of time in order to give us an opportunity to try to settle the problem and particularly the blocking of access to the Gulf of Aqaba. I said that this was the act which had caused matters to get out of control. The Israelis had made clear that this was casus belli.
I referred to my talk with Chernyakov and said we thought it most important that we not start the arms race in this area all over again. I said I was particularly thinking of the long range problem. Dobrynin said the Arabs had lost a lot of matériel and were pressing hard for its replacement.
Dobrynin said that the Soviets were ready to conclude the Non-proliferation Treaty and thought they were waiting now for our decision on the proposals made by Mr. Foster. I said I was not informed of the status of the problem but thought we were not far from an agreement.
Dobrynin said he had been present during the use of the “Hot Line” together with Gromyko and asked if I had been present at this end. I replied that I had. Dobrynin said they had wanted to send their message earlier, but he had reminded his people of the difference in time. I said that it had still been early in the morning here and hoped that they would keep this time differential in mind.
Dobrynin asked about what he called our big problem, that is, Vietnam. He referred to the DRV offer for talks in the event we stopped bombing. I said that they had asked us to stop bombing unconditionally and permanently and had still given no indication they would not continue the infiltration of troops into the South. I said we were most anxious to resolve the problem either through negotiations or through a tapering off of the use of violence. I thought we were prepared to move any time the other side indicated directly or indirectly that they were prepared to reciprocate.[Page 494]
When I inquired why Semenov was not on the Soviet delegation, Dobrynin replied that he was ill.
As we were walking toward the door, I expressed regret at the delay in carrying out our Civil Air Agreement. Dobrynin said he could assure me that the delay was not due to political reasons but simply the Soviet desire not to start with an outmoded plane and the problem of equipping it to meet our standards.