296. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1
Just before 1:00 p.m. this afternoon, Ambassador Dobrynin called on me to deliver orally the attached note. He left behind, however, his handwritten translation from which we typed up his communication, literally.2
When he had concluded, I raised the following points, after explaining that I had no other instruction except to receive his message and that what I was about to say was personal and informal.
- Had he, in informing Moscow, made absolutely clear the distinction between my formal message to him and our informal discussion?3 He said: “Absolutely.” But he evidently understood my major anxiety with this message, which was the phrase “questions named by the American side.” He knew that the Middle East and Vietnam had been raised in our conversation not by me but by him. He added, therefore, that the “two subjects of interest to the American side” had been “often discussed between him and Secretary Rusk.” I draw the conclusion, therefore, that in reporting he did not make it quite clear to Moscow that the notion of a Summit embracing the Middle East and Vietnam was, so far as our conversation was concerned, his idea and not mine, although I joined readily into the exchange of informal views.
- I recalled that I had given him copies of the Dirksen and Hruska speeches and noted that there was, perhaps understandably, no reference to Czechoslovakia in this message. I asked, then, was he sure that the men in Moscow understood the relationship of Czechoslovakia to any possible meeting? He said: “Certainly, absolutely.” I then asked what his personal view was about Czechoslovakia in the days ahead: would things get better, or worse? He said: “I believe, better.”
- He then asked me if I thought we would have an immediate response so that he should stay in town and not go to New York later this afternoon, remaining there Saturday.4 I said that if I were he, I [Page 702] would proceed to New York. He said he would certainly be back in town on Sunday and could return to Washington if there was urgency.
- In leaving, he asked if we could furnish him with a copy of the picture taken of him at the Cabinet table delivering the message on Czechoslovakia on August 20. I said that I would look into this somewhat ghoulish request.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Chlodnick File. Top Secret; Sensitive; For the Eyes of the President and Secretary Rusk Only.↩
- The typed communication is printed below; the handwritten translation from which it was made is attached but not printed.↩
- See Document 295.↩
- September 14.↩
- No classification marking. The September 13 date is not included on the handwritten message.↩
- Brackets in the source text.↩