291. Telegram From the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Smith) to President Johnson in Texas1

CAP 82219. For the President’s Eyes Only. Following is Ambassador Thompson’s report of his conversation yesterday with Ambassador Dobrynin.2

In the course of my talk with Dobrynin, he raised the question of the possible visit of the President to Leningrad and the missile talks. He said it appeared clear that his government had decided to separate the two matters. He personally had the impression that the President was interested in visiting the Soviet Union and that this had been a maximum desire whereas a meeting of the chiefs of government in Geneva in connection with the missile talks would have been the President’s minimum desire.

I said I was not here at the time and did not know the President’s mind on these matters.

Dobrynin said he thought the Soviet Government had agreed to Geneva as a locale for the talks as a response to our wishes. He thought that if we preferred to have them in Moscow, there would be no problem on their part.

I said I had no idea what our views on the matter were. I said that obviously both these matters would be contingent on what now happened in Czechoslovakia.

I said I was personally optimistic that missile talks could succeed as I was convinced that it was in the interest of both our countries.

He said that when he was last in Moscow he had seen draft instructions which were of such nature that he would have been quite satisfied to have headed the talks on the Soviet side on the basis of these instructions. He said they were long and complex but quite serious. He also said that the Soviets envisaged that the talks would be held in secret.

I replied that I assumed that this would also be our view although we would undoubtedly have to let our allies know the general trend of the talks which increased the possibility of leaks.

He said he quite understood the present situation and observed that we had a month before the missile talks were scheduled to begin.

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I asked who he thought would head up the missile talks on the Soviet side if they were on the level of special delegations. He said he did not know but when I suggested it might be someone like Kuznetsov, he said he thought this was a real possibility.

He said that he understood that Gromyko intended to come to New York about the first of October for the General Assembly. He asked me to let him know anything I could before my departure on our attitude with respect to the missile talks.

In the course of the conversation, I made quite clear that a number of problems in our bilateral relations would depend upon how matters actually developed in Czechoslovakia and that in any event some immediate issues would be adversely affected. He indicated that he fully understood this.

Dobrynin noted that the West Germans, the Chinese Communists and the Secretary had raised the question of Romania and he wondered why. He smiled when he mentioned the Chinese. I replied that from our point of view it was quite simple. The day the Secretary spoke to him, we had received a series of alarming reports from non-Romanian sources and it was quite natural for the Secretary to ask about them.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President—Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 92. Top Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. A memorandum of their conversation on Czechoslovakia is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVII, Document 89.