218. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin

Circumstances of Conversation

Ambassador Dobrynin called the evening of September 24th to tell me that he had a personal message for the President from his leadership and that he wanted to have an appointment with the President the next day. In view of the newly discovered Soviet base in Cuba, the President and I thought it unwise to have such a meeting. Therefore, I told Dobrynin that he would have to deliver the note to me and only after reading it could it be judged whether it would be worthwile for him to see the President. Ambassador Dobrynin replied that his instructions were to deliver it to the President and he would consequently have to check with Moscow whether he could deliver it to me. He [Page 659] added that this reflected no lack of trust in me and that he would, of course, be glad to chat with me for half an hour before we saw the President. I said that unfortunately it was impossible to see the President and, therefore, his choice was between delivering it to me or waiting until after the President came back from his European trip.2 Dobrynin said he would let me know during the course of the next morning. I told him the only time I would be free would be at 10:30 a.m. The next morning at 9:30 a.m. Dobrynin called to say that he would be available at 10:30 a.m.


I met with Ambassador Dobrynin in the Map Room. After an exchange of pleasantries, he made the following point. His government had studied the proposal of a Summit with great interest and as the Soviet Government had already indicated, it was ready to proceed in principle. The Soviet Government agreed in general to the agenda outlined in our previous communication.3 It also agreed that Ambassador Dobrynin and I should proceed with exploratory conversations. The Soviet Government wondered about the site of the conference and whether the President was perhaps thinking of Moscow. It also asked for the President’s views about the best time for such a meeting and specifically whether it should be in the first half or the second half of the year. Ambassador Dobrynin added that actually it could not take place before May because of the Soviet Party Congress. I replied that given the weather conditions, what the Ambassador was really asking was whether it should be in the last half of the first half or the first half of the last half of the year—in other words, whether it should be in June or in July or September, August probably being a vacation month for both sides. Ambassador Dobrynin stated that this was essentially correct. During this portion of the discussion, Ambassador Dobrynin also informed me that Premier Kosygin would not be attending the United Nations 25th Anniversary Celebration in New York this fall. I told Ambassador Dobrynin I would let him know later about our views on a possible Summit. At this point in the conversation, Ambassador Dobrynin tried to initiate a conversation on the Middle East and other problems, but I cut him off by saying that these subjects were too complex and that too many things had happened to enable us to discuss them in a semi-social way. I added that if he wished to discuss these subjects, we should schedule a meeting and I would then be prepared to do so.

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Ambassador Dobrynin said that Moscow was struck by the fact that the U.S. had never replied to its note4 of the previous Monday with respect to the Syrian invasion. Were we not interested in consulting with Moscow on Mideast developments? I said that certainly we were willing to discuss them with Moscow but it seemed to us that over a period of weeks every Soviet démarche had been followed by the contrary action and we simply wanted to wait to see what would happen. Dobrynin said we might not believe it but the Soviet Union had not known of the invasion of Jordan by Syria and that in any event Soviet advisors had dropped off Syrian tanks prior to crossing the frontier. I let this somewhat contradictory statement go and told Dobrynin that I would ask the President’s views about consultation on Mideast issues. I added that the United States Government was always prepared to discuss the situation with the Soviet Union in times of international crises. Our ability to do so, however, was quite dependent on the degree of confidence which existed between us and our overall relationships in general. In light of Soviet violations of the ceasefire and Soviet responsibility for the violations—or what we considered Soviet responsibility for unloosening some of the forces that produced the crisis—the Jordanian situation did not provide the atmosphere for a frank exchange of views between our governments. In principle, however, we were prepared to discuss such matters with the Soviet Government. I added that the United States had no intention of launching military operations in Jordan if other outside forces stayed out of Jordan. The meeting adjourned.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 490, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Vol. 2. Top Secret; Sensitive. The conversation was held in the Map Room at the White House.
  2. Nixon left for Europe on September 27 and visited Italy, Yugoslavia, Spain, England, and Ireland. He returned to Washington on October 5. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  3. See Tab A, Document 198.
  4. On September 21, Vorontsov presented to Sisco the Soviet reply to the U.S. request that the Soviets urge Syria to pull back from Jordan. The Soviet reply is in telegram 155169 to Moscow, September 22. According to the telegram, Sisco and Vorontsov then had the following exchange: “Sisco asked Vorontsov whether we should understand this statement to mean the Soviet Government is taking steps to bring about withdrawal of Syrian forces from Jordan. Vorontsov said he did not have information regarding the exact nature of the contacts taking place but that the Soviet Union was using all its influence in contacts with Syria.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 713, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. IX)