185. Memorandum Prepared by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Conversation with Dobrynin—July 23, 1970

Dobrynin was at the White House in his capacity as Acting Dean of the Diplomatic Corps for the reception of President Kekkonen.2 He had called me earlier to tell me that he had been instructed to deliver the Soviet reply to our Middle East peace overture at noon at the State Department. But, as a matter of courtesy, he wanted to leave a copy with me two hours before then. I therefore suggested to him that he join me in the Map Room after the ceremony.

In the Map Room, Dobrynin was extremely cordial and asked me whether I was now optimistic about the Middle East. I said, “I’m always realistic—neither optimistic nor pessimistic.” He asked me what I thought would be a logical place for the conference to occur. I said it might be Cyprus or New York. Dobrynin replied that he felt the Soviet Union would prefer New York, but it was not a key issue.

He then handed me the Soviet note3 which is attached. After I had read it, Dobrynin asked me whether I thought it was in a constructive spirit which I affirmed. Dobrynin then asked who I thought would win the Nobel Prize for having brought about this peace settlement—Rogers or the White House. I said that we were not in competition and, [Page 573] in any event, he was such an acute observer of the American scene that I had no doubt that he had formed his own conclusion. Dobrynin said that in his whole experience he had never seen foreign policy decisions so centralized and he knew where the real power lay. I said that we had collective leadership, and on this note, we parted.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 489, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Part 1, Vol. 1. No classification marking.
  2. President Urho Kekkonen of Finland visited the United States July 23–27.
  3. The note is identical to the text presented to Rogers the same day; see Document 184.