105. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Informing the Soviets of our Talks with the Chinese

I notice that Gerard Smith and Ambassador Thompson proposed that Dobrynin be informed of the resumption of US-Chinese talks before it becomes public knowledge.

In the last Administration it was a standard practice for the State Department to provide Dobrynin with detailed records of the Warsaw talks. This was done at the Thompson and Bohlen level. The idea was to calm possible Soviet suspicions. It was also assumed that the Russians probably had some knowledge of the content of the talks from Polish monitoring operations and that, therefore, there was no harm in providing them with the full record.

I believe that as a matter of style, and consistent with our general approach to the Soviets and the Chinese Communists, this practice of the last Administration should not be resumed in this one.2 I [Page 320]assume that you will want to call this to the attention of the Secretary of State.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 711, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. VI. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information.
  2. Attached but not printed is a December 12 memorandum from Kissinger informing Rogers that “The President agrees completely with your recommendation against advising Ambassador Dobrynin of our talks with the Chinese. He has asked that under no circumstances should we inform Dobrynin of the talks or their content. If Dobrynin questions, we should respond with nonchalance that they concern matters of mutual interest but not go beyond that.”
  3. Haig’s initials and the following handwritten comments appear at the end of the memorandum: “Absolutely. Hal [Sonnenfeldt]—Rogers called HAK, agreed completely with your psn [position] and on his own volunteered this psn—HAK ran by Pres—and confirmed in writing. Copy attached.” At 12:22 p.m., Rogers and Kissinger spoke on the telephone about this issue. According to a transcript of their conversation, “R said Tommy [ Llewellyn] Thompson recommended that we advise Dobrynin about the proposed talks with the Chinese. R said he doesn’t think we should, but we wanted to give the P[resident] the chance to think about it. K said how did he know? K said I guess he got it in the traffic. R said he got it in the traffic and it’s going to be in the papers. R said he thinks we should be nice in view of the SALT, but R doesn’t agree. K said he agrees with R and K thinks the P will need a lot of selling to accept Tommy Thompson’s view. K said he would mention it to him. K said he will say that R disagreed, but wanted to be meticulous and let K know.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 361, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)