9. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Vietnam.]

[Page 36]


We then turned to Vietnam. Dobrynin said that at first he had thought our action (the President’s address of January 25)2 precipitate, but if we were really convinced that there would be an offensive, he could see the sense in it. He wanted to assure me again that the Soviet Union had no interest in seeing the war continue; on the contrary, the Soviet Union had every incentive to see the war end, because methods that could be used prior to the Peking Summit might also be applied prior to the Moscow Summit.

I said there was another reason why the Soviet Union had an interest in seeing the war end. Many of the things we were talking about presupposed a President who had authority enough to implement them after this election, and it could not be in the Soviet interest to undermine Presidential authority. Finally, there would be the major problem that if an offensive took place we were determined to make a sharp response. We would simply not hold still for an American humiliation. Dobrynin said that this point had been made abundantly clear.

Dobrynin then asked whether I had any ideas for ending the war. Was the offer of a military arrangement still open? I said it was, as long as it involved elements of a ceasefire. Dobrynine asked whether the ceasefire was an absolute requirement. I said a standstill of military operations was a requirement. The formality in which it was expressed could be perhaps the subject of negotiation. Dobrynin said that this was an interesting point. I stressed that I was thinking out loud and that it represented no commitment.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Vietnam.]

We parted cordially.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 493, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 9 [Part 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the White House Map Room. This memorandum of conversation was sent under a February 8 covering memorandum from Kissinger to the President summarizing the meeting. A notation on the February 8 memorandum indicates the President saw it. Printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 41.
  2. See Document 5.