44. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

P: Hello?

K: Mr. President.

P: Henry, are you in New York?

K: No, I’m in Washington. I’m in the office.

P: Oh, fine. Is it good weather?

K: Perfect, lovely weather. A great day.

P: I just wanted to be sure the country was still running here.

K: The country is in good shape.

P: What is the situation on anything from the North Vietnamese?

K: Well, we have an answer from the N. Vietnamese. They have agreed to a meeting between Le Duc Tho and me. It is much less insolent.2

P: Yeah.

K: And, . . .

P: Agreed to a meeting when, Henry?

K: On May 15. And, I had also demanded a meeting between Sullivan and Tac before that. And they have agreed to that and that will take place next week.

P: Where will that take place? In Paris?

K: In Paris. And that makes it a little tougher for them to take military action in that period of time.

P: Right. They still claim that they are not doing anything in violation.

K: No, No. They are now criticizing us for having broken off the Joint Economic Commission and pulling back the mine sweepers.

P: That’s good. And, did they mention the Laotian bombing?

[Page 207]

K: No. Oh yeah, just in passing. It’s a much . . . Mr. President, if we didn’t have this god damn domestic situation, a week of bombing would put them . . . this Agreement in force.

P: Yeah. Well, we’ll still do it.

K: Yeah.

P: Right. What did you have an idea . . . have you sort of laid in motion for the NSC meeting for Thursday?

K: Thursday, Mr. President.

P: If you want it Wednesday that’s soon enough. I’ll probably be back Tuesday.3

K: Well, why don’t we give it a day then to work . . . If the situation deteriorates, Mr. President, we can have it Wednesday.

P: Sure.

K: But, otherwise, perhaps if you and I could have a chance to go over it on Wednesday and then Thursday to meet.

P: Yes sir.

K: I mean, there’s no urgency now to take a decision on . . .

P: The fact that you’ve got them somewhat restrained because of the messages . . .

K: Well, again, we did all these things against the position of everybody, but calling back our negotiators, withdrawing our minesweepers, and flying a reconnaissance plane, plus the bombing of Laos . . . that was pretty starchy stuff. And one good thing about Watergate, it puts it all on page 20.

P: laughter. That’s right. It even puts down the 10% increase in the inflation on page 20.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry A. Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 19, Chronological File. No classification marking. Nixon was in Key Biscayne; Kissinger was in Washington.
  2. Although Kissinger characterized the North Vietnamese note as “insolent” in Document 42 and tells the President the note is “much less insolent” here, it is clear in context he is referring to the same note. For information about the note itself, see footnote 5, Document 42.
  3. April 21. The President returned from Key Biscayne on April 24. No NSC meeting was held on his return.