167. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The President
  • Ambassador Dobrynin
  • Henry A. Kissinger

Prior to our departure for the Sequoia,2 the President asked me to take Dobrynin to the Map Room in the Residence where the President joined us for a few minutes.

The President said that he was delighted that we were going to the Sequoia for a talk and he hoped that we would enjoy the breeze and talk fully. He wanted Dobrynin to know that I had his full confidence and that this was the channel in which he wished things to be settled. He also stressed to Dobrynin that things that were in the public arena might be put in other channels but, if serious business was to be done, it was to be done in our channel.

He reminded Dobrynin that at their last meeting, he had told Dobrynin that he had been in office nine months and it was about time that the baby was born; therefore, there was a certain disappointment that there had been no progress. He wanted him to know that he was prepared to let bygones be bygones and start afresh if the Soviet Union was prepared to take a similar approach. He wanted it clearly understood that the course on Vietnam was set and there was no sense in trying to press us to change our policies. Similarly, he understood certain Soviet security requirements that we were not disposed to challenge. He wanted Dobrynin and me to speak in this spirit.

[Page 515]

Dobrynin asked whether he could make a few comments. He said that he appreciated that spirit and he felt the same way. It was time to let bygones be bygones and concentrate on the future. There was no sense in arguing about how we got into Cambodia and other areas of the world. The future would determine how able we were to solve the problems of peace. He did want to say, however, that the Soviet Union was very eager to come to an agreement on the Middle East, but was being constantly thwarted by the petty legalism of Sisco’s approach. He would like to urge the President to take a personal interest in the negotiations, because only a willingness to deal with the problems at the highest levels would make it possible to come to a conclusion.

The President emphasized that we had an NSC meeting on the Middle East3 and that this was one area in which matters could get out of control because of the pressures of public opinion. He said, “The Fedayeen are not in your control, and our public opinion is not in our control.” Dobrynin said, “The Fedayeen are not in our control but we don’t let them control our actions, and we make very sure that we keep tight control of our military forces.” The President said that he just wanted Dobrynin to understand that we were serious in our efforts, but that we were pragmatic and precise. He hoped that he and I would speak in that spirit.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 489, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Part 2, Vol. I. Top Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The conversation was held in the Map Room at the White House. The time and place of the meeting are from the President’s Daily Diary. (Ibid., White House Central Files)
  2. The Presidential yacht.
  3. See Document 166.