292. Instructions for the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Thompson)1

The President wishes to hold open the possibility of strategic weapons talks. His present idea is that he would open these talks at the highest level, not via the Secretary of Defense or the Director, ACDA. Thompson should try to get any indication if there is any “give on this subject” or any truly serious “interest.” The President does not wish to do anything unless there is “some chance—a modicum of hope—of agreement.”

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Thompson should begin, however, by executing the instruction the President gave him with respect to his meeting on Friday2 with Dobrynin at lunch; that is, Dobrynin should be made clearly to understand that the President resents the Soviet circulation of the idea that he is personally anxious for some contact at the highest level with the Soviet Union. This has been damaging. The President is not interested in personal contacts or cosmetics. He is only interested in a meeting where there is a serious possibility that major, substantive results could be achieved.

Thompson should also convey to Dobrynin the depth of the political reaction in the U.S. as reflected by the returning members of Congress. Dirksen’s and Hruska’s remarks should be noted.3 Hruska is probably going to be Dirksen’s successor.

W. W. Rostow 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Chlodnick File. Secret; Eyes Only. A list of documents in the Chlodnick File, prepared in the White House, identifies this paper as “Instructions for Amb. Thompson, September 5, 1968, in talking with Amb. Dobrynin.” Thompson met with the President and Rostow from 1–1:47 p.m. on September 5. The President’s Daily Diary records the following about the meeting: “Amb returns to Moscow next Monday or Tuesday … hopes to get guidance on how to respond when—as he expects—Soviet leaders ask him whether we are prepared to go forward on pending initiatives.” (Ibid.) For a memorandum of Thompson’s conversation with Dobrynin on September 6, see Document 293.
  2. September 6.
  3. For text of their remarks, see the Congressional Record—Senate, September 5, 1968, pp. S 10315–S 10318.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.