312. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
  • Soviet Chargé Yuly Vorontsov

I met with Vorontsov at my request to hand him a draft letter to Kosygin (attached) on the need to put an end to hostilities.

Vorontsov said that I had to believe him that a major effort was being made to induce the Indians; however, they were not being very reasonable. I said that there was no longer any excuse; the President had made any number of personal appeals, all of which had been rejected, and it was time to move. Vorontsov asked me whether it could be dealt with in the United Nations. I told him yes, we were prepared to support the British Resolution2 if the Soviet Union would. Vorontsov said that the British Resolution was not very agreeable; the Soviets were trying to promote the Polish Resolution.3 I said I wanted him to know that we would not agree to any resolution that recognized a turnover of authority. There was a question of principle involved. It was bad enough that the United Nations was impotent in the case of military attack; it could not be asked to legitimize it. However, as I pointed out, we were prepared to work in a parallel direction.

Vorontsov said that the letter presented some difficulties. The Soviet Union was prepared unconditionally to guarantee the United States that there would be no Indian attack on the Western front or on Kashmir, and that when they referred to West Pakistan they meant the existing dividing line. However, to do this publicly would mean that they were in effect speaking for a friendly country. After all, India was not a client state. I said that the course of events was obvious: Either there would be a ceasefire soon in the West anyway through the UN or through direct dealings with us, or else we would have to draw appropriate conclusions.

[Page 831]

Vorontsov said, “In a little while we will go back to where we were.” I said, “I have told you for two weeks now that this is not the case.” On this note, we left.4


Draft Letter From President Nixon to Soviet Chairman Kosygin

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Now that the military conflict in East Pakistan appears to be moving to a conclusion, the most challenging task to both our countries, as great and responsible powers, is to see to it that the bloodshed should promptly end and that fighting does not continue in the West.

Although the United Nations has been seized with this difficult problem, efforts in that body have so far not resulted in progress, partly because of the difficulties of resolving political issues. It is not therefore urgently desirable that our two countries should take prompt and responsible steps to ensure that the military conflict does not spread and that assurances be given against territorial acquisition by either side? I know that you will agree with me that when this has been successfully accomplished the dark cloud that now hangs over the international situation as a whole will have been substantially lightened. I hope therefore that we can cooperate to achieve an end to all the fighting, to remove the concern that the war will become one of conquest, and to eliminate the threat to peace that has arisen. This would, of course, not prejudice anybodyʼs position with respect to an ultimate political solution.

I believe that efforts in the above direction must continue to be vigorously pursued.


  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, Presidentʼs Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 8. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Map Room at the White House.
  2. UN doc. S/10455.
  3. UN doc. S/10453.
  4. Vorontsov called Kissinger at 1:20 p.m. to say that when he returned to his embassy he found a cable from Moscow reacting to their conversation of the previous day. Vorontsov was instructed to: “Advise President and Dr. Kissinger that we are in consultations with Indian leadership including in the Security Council.” The Soviet leadership promised to “inform President of substance of the matter.” (Transcript of a telephone conversation, December 15; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)