122. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rogers and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: I’m sorry to take you away from your dinner (Rogers was at a post-wedding dinner at the Jockey Club). We had a call from Dobrynin [Page 366]1½ hours ago who said he had a personal message from Kosygin.2 He asked if he could see the President. I told him he was at David.3 He asked if he could bring it by to me—which has been done. It is a message about the Middle East; its major points are: the Israelis have resumed in effect military action against the Arab states.4 If it continues, consequences will be risked. The USSR will be forced to see to it that the Arabs have the means at their disposal to rebuff the Israelis. If the Israelis withdraw, other things will fall into place. The message is somewhat moderate, but it has that threat in it. The President has given me some of his thoughts. Would you agree if I gave them to Sisco and he could work out an answer with you?

R: Does it call for an answer soon?

K: When Dobrynin called, he asked if he could have an answer by Monday.5 I said “no.” He said, “Tuesday?” I told him I couldn’t accept a deadline. There may be some urgency in our getting to Sisco. The message said that similar letters have gone to Wilson and Pompidou.

R: I feel we should downplay its importance—we can’t let them give us these ultimatums.

K: The President thinks so too. It would be unfortunate if outside powers got themselves involved directly or indirectly. I think we should say we have put our proposal down, and we have stated what we think of withdrawal.

R: I took a hard line with [omission in the source text] yesterday.

K: I will call Sisco now.6

R: I will get it from Sisco then.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 361, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. Document 121.
  3. Nixon left for Camp David at 4:46 p.m. on January 31, and returned on February 1 at 10:37 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Daily Diary)
  4. In early January, Israel began a bombing campaign in Egypt’s heartland in an attempt to force Nasser to shift military forces away from the canal area.
  5. February 2.
  6. At 9:30 p.m., Kissinger called Sisco. According to a transcript of their conversation, “K told Sisco about Dobrynin’s call and the message from Kosygin and said he would like to tell him what the President thinks. It has to be handled very confidentially. Sisco said he would come in immediately.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 361, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)