323. Editorial Note

On the evening of June 10, 1970, Assistant to the President Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin spent 4½ hours cruising the Potomac on the Sequoia, discussing Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe and Soviet-U.S. relations. On June 15 Kissinger prepared highlights of the discussions for the President. Attached to the summary was a full record of the discussion. According to the summary highlights, the discussion on Southeast Asia went as follows:

  • “—Dobrynin said that the Cambodian operation had a great impact on the Soviet leadership and made them doubt our motives for a possible summit. While we had made some military gains, Chinese influence in the region had been bolstered and prospects for a settlement set back.
  • “—The Soviets have no interest in a communist government in Phnom Penh since it would be dominated by Peking. Dobrynin considered our Cambodian operations past history and probed for what kind of government we could tolerate.
  • “—Dobrynin asked if we were prepared to partition Laos, a suggestion he had heard from the State Department. I said we were ready to discuss any reasonable plan that would assure the neutrality and security of Southeast Asia.
  • “—The North Vietnamese care about a political settlement, not about the rate of our withdrawals. Dobrynin said elections were unacceptable to Hanoi. When I pointed to your April 20 reference to determination of the popular will, he wondered whether our proposal was still open. I told him all proposals had been reiterated in the April 30 and June 3 speeches.
  • “—Dobrynin had the impression from Hanoi that we were being rigid in my Paris talks with the North Vietnamese. He saw little chance for negotiating movement now, but the situation might change after June 30.”

In the first paragraph above, Nixon underlined the phrase “Chinese influence in the region has been bolstered and prospects for a settlement set back,” and wrote in the margin: “interesting.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 489, President’s Trip File, DobryninKissinger, Vol. 1 [Part 2])