124. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Anatoliy Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to South Asia.]

[Page 333]


We then turned the conversation to India. Dobrynin said he wanted us to be sure to understand that the Soviets were doing their best to restrain India. They wanted peace in the subcontinent. It was an ironic development where they were lined up with what looked like we had always thought was the pillar of democracy while we were lined up with the Chinese. I said as far as the subcontinent were concerned, we were not lined up with anybody. We above all wanted to prevent the outbreak of a war, and we hoped that they did not inadvertently give the Indians enough backing so that they felt it was safe to engage in war. Dobrynin said that their interest was stability, and in fact they had invited the Pakistani Foreign Secretary to come to Moscow in order to show that they were pursuing a balanced policy. I said that they should not encourage Indian pressures for an immediate political solution since that would only make the problem impossible. I stated it would be best if we worked on the refugee and relief problems first and on political accommodation later. Dobrynin said that he was certain that the Soviet Union basically agreed.

Dobrynin then asked me whether it was correct what the Indians had told them, namely that we would look at a Chinese attack on India as a matter of extreme gravity and might even give them some support. He said that the Indians had been puzzled by my comment but had then put it all together after my trip to Peking. I said that I never commented about meetings in other countries, but that we certainly were not aligned with any country against India. Dobrynin commented that he admired the general conduct of our foreign policy even when it was objectively directed against the Soviet Union, but he felt that our arms policy towards Pakistan escaped his understanding. We were paying a disproportionate amount for what we were shipping. I said that we never yielded to public pressure and that he knew very well that the arms we were shipping were minimal and inconsequential with respect to the strategic balance.

Dobrynin volunteered that the Soviet treaty with India was not in response to recent events but had been in preparation for a year.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to South Asia.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, Presidentʼs Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7, Part 2. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The conversation was held during lunch in the Map Room at the White House. Kissinger summarized the conversation in an August 24 memorandum to the President. (Ibid.)