260. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Highlights of My Talk with Dobrynin on September 20, 1971

Dobrynin requested a meeting with me on his return from consultations in Moscow. The most significant developments in our talk were his comments on U.S.-Soviet relations and his delivery of a new Soviet offer to play a role in Vietnam diplomacy. The full record is attached. (Tab A)2

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

The question of Soviet involvement in Vietnam diplomacy has of course come up before in my talks with Dobrynin. (He offered on March 25, for example, to carry a message to North Vietnamese leaders attending the Party Congress in Moscow;3 on July 29, I suggested to him that now was a useful moment for Soviet intervention.)4 But this new Soviet offer I believe is particularly forthcoming and concrete; it is an offer to try to bridge the differences, not just to carry messages. It comes against the background of your China announcement and the whole new tone of U.S.-Soviet relations. And it is especially timely from our point of view.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 872, For the President’s Files—Lord, Vietnam Negotiations, Encore September 1971–15 February 1972, President’s Speech January 25, 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. The date is handwritten.
  2. Attached but not printed. The September 20 memorandum of conversation is printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIII, Soviet Union, October 1970–October 1971, Document 330. Kissinger noted that Dobrynin handed him the original text of a letter from Brezhnev to Nixon, September 7, sent in response to Nixon’s August 5 letter to him (see ibid., Document 309). Concerning Southeast Asia, Brezhnev commented favorably on Hanoi’s recent proposals in the talks with Kissinger and wrote, “if the United States has embarked on the course of withdrawing its troops from Indochina, then, it seems to us, there should be no obstacles to setting a final date for their complete withdrawal.” He asked, “why not accept the idea of establishing in South Vietnam a government of national accord.” Kissinger forwarded the letter to Nixon under a covering memorandum, September 17. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7 [Part 1])
  3. See Document 165.
  4. See Document 239.