95. Press Conference by President Nixon1

[Omitted here is discussion of timing of the President’s trip to China.]

Now, as to the effect the visit will have, and the conversations will have, on Vietnam, I will not speculate on that subject. I will only say that as the joint announcement indicated, this will be a wide-ranging discussion of issues concerning both governments. It is not a discussion that is going to lead to instant détente.

What it really is, is moving—as we have moved, I believe, in the situation with regard to the Soviet Union—from an era of confrontation without communication to an era of negotiation with discussion. It does not mean that we go into these meetings on either side with any illusions about the wide differences that we have. Our interests are very different, and both sides recognized this, in the talks that Dr. Kissinger had, the very extended talks he had with Premier Chou En-lai. We do not expect that these talks will settle all of those differences.

What is important is that we will have opened communication to see where our differences are irreconcilable, to see that they can be settled [Page 330] peacefully, and to find those areas where the United States, which today is the most powerful nation in the world, can find areas of agreement with the most populous nation in the world which potentially in the future could become the most powerful nation in the world.

As we look at peace in the world for the balance of this century, and for that matter even in the next century, we must recognize that there cannot be world peace on which all the peoples in the world can rely, on which they have such a great stake, unless there is communication between and some negotiation between these two great super powers, the People’s Republic and the United States.

I have put this in general terms because that is the understanding of the People’s Republic, Premier Chou En-lai, and it is our under-standing our agenda will be worked out at a later point; before the trip it will be very carefully worked out so that the discussions will deal with the hard problems as well as the easy ones.

We expect to make some progress, but to speculate about what progress will be made on any particular issue, to speculate, for example, as to what effect this might have on Vietnam, would not serve the interests of constructive talks.

[Omitted here are the remaining items in the press conference.]

  1. Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1971, pp. 850-851. The section printed here is from item 2 of the press conference, entitled “The President’s Trip to China.”