197. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • My Meeting Today with Vorontsov on Possible Summit Meeting

Soviet Minister Vorontsov came in today to give us an answer to our query about their interest in a summit meeting, prompted by recent Soviet approaches to Mr. Harvey Hament.2

Vorontsov handed me a rather vague note, attached at Tab A, which indicates that Moscow has decided to play the subject of a possible summit meeting coolly, at least for the time being. The note states that Dobrynin brought to the attention of the Soviet leadership your idea of a summit meeting, and declares the Soviets’ “positive approach” to a summit, “provided that such meetings are duly prepared allowing thus to count on getting results.” It then invites your concrete suggestions about moving toward a summit, saying that Moscow will be ready to study them attentively.

In our brief conversation Vorontsov said that Mr. Hament had exaggerated the importance of his conversations with Soviet officials and that these encounters were not serious. He denied that a large meeting had taken place as described by Hament.

Our response to the Soviets, I believe, should be played coolly like their note itself. I propose that I go back to Vorontsov and merely tell him that we are prepared to move toward a summit meeting within the framework that Ambassador Dobrynin and I have been discussing, recalling that we had set a tentative agenda featuring European security, SALT, and the Middle East. I would add that the next step will have to be to set a date and that November or December are impossible.


That you approve my responding to Vorontsov in this fashion.3

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Tab A

Note From the Soviet Government

The Soviet Ambassador has brought to the knowledge of the Soviet leadership the idea of President Nixon, which was forwarded through Dr. Kissinger, about arranging of a Soviet-American meeting on the highest level.

The American side is aware of our positive approach to the contacts on the highest level, including the form of personal meetings of the leaders of the two powers—the USSR and the US, provided that such meetings are duly prepared allowing thus to count on getting results.

With such an understanding of this question Moscow will be ready to study attentively concrete suggestions which President Nixon may wish to put forward in development of the general idea expressed by Dr. Kissinger on instructions from the President in the conversations with the Soviet Ambassador.

It would be desirable to know what problems and in what light does the American side intend to suggest for the consideration.

  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. Sent for action.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 196.
  3. Nixon initialed the “approve” option.