191. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Soviet Note on the Middle East

You will recall that I mentioned to you earlier this week that the Soviets had given us a forthcoming note concerning their “military presence” in Egypt. I think you will be interested in seeing the exact text of the message, which was delivered in Washington and is attached at Tab A.

In a telephone conversation with Ambassador Dobrynin he stressed, as the note does, the cosmetic importance to Moscow of making the removal of military presence a mutual obligation. When I pointed out that we do not have such a military presence, Dobrynin replied, “Then it is better for you.” He also reiterated the willingness of the Soviets to discuss regional arms limitations and the great importance his government places on contacts with us on the Middle East, both in our channel and generally.

I told Dobrynin that I had informed you of his message, that we thought it was a constructive reply, and that we will be using my contacts with him more often on the Middle East issues.

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Tab A

Message From Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union Kosygin to Nixon

Referring to our previous conversations the following is authorized by Moscow to be transmitted to the President.

Since Nixon expressed his wish to know the intentions of the Soviet Government regarding the prospects of the Soviet “military presence” in the UAR we would like the President to recall that it was not the Soviet Union who initiated the arms race in the Middle East. We have always believed and believe now that appropriate steps towards limiting this arms race would not contradict the interests of countries of that area. At the same time, for obvious reasons, we can not discuss the question of unilateral assurances from the Soviet side in terms of our accepting any preliminary conditions.

As we already stated to the US Government earlier, the Soviet side would be ready to discuss the question of limiting the shipments of arms to the countries of the Middle East after a political settlement has been achieved. At that time the question of “military presence” in that area of the world by non-Mideastern countries could probably also be considered. Naturally, in this case it would be a matter not only for the Soviet Union but also for other states involved to assume appropriate obligations.

The Soviet side regards its contacts with the American side on the Middle East question as very important ones and sincerely wants these contacts to bring about concrete results in terms of a speediest achievement of a lasting and just peace in the Middle East.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Geopolitical File, Box TS 36, Soviet Union, Chronological File, 7/70–1/71. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Another copy in the file indicates it was drafted by Lord on July 31 and the President saw it.