224. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
[Page 669]

I received a phone call from Ambassador Dobrynin the morning of my return from the President’s European trip2 during which he stated that he would like to see me if at all possible that day. We agreed to meet at 2:15 p.m. in the Map Room. Ambassador Dobrynin greeted me by saying that he had had two communications from the Soviet Government which had come back with very great speed after our earlier conversation. He stated that Moscow’s hope had obviously been to reach me before our departure for Europe but that it had been too late to do so.

The Ambassador then handed me the two communications. The first dealt with Jordan, the second with Cuba. With respect to Jordan, Dobrynin added that the note was somewhat dated but it should give us a good idea of the attitude of the Soviet Government. The two communications read as follows:

Jordan

“The Soviet Government has received with satisfaction President Nixon’s communication to the effect that the United States do not contemplate any military actions in connection with the events in Jordan and that the US Government is exerting restraining influence in order to prevent interference in the events in Jordan by other foreign states.

“From the very start of the events in Jordan the Soviet side, as the US side has already been informed, has been taking steps aimed at bringing about a speedy end to the fratricidal collisions in Jordan and at preventing interference in the events therein by other states, both belonging to that area and those outside of it. This, as the US Government is aware, has produced certain results.

“The situation in Jordan still remains, however, rather complex. Therefore, we proceed from the assumption that also in the time ahead all states should exercise necessary prudence in their actions in order not to aggravate the situation but, on the contrary, to help end the conflict in Jordan.

“In Moscow it is believed that the most effective means of preventing events like those which occurred in Jordan, is a speedy attainment of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East as a whole.

“The Soviet position on questions pertaining to such settlement and, in particular, on the question of contacts between the sides through Jarring is well known to the US Government.”

Cuba

“The Soviet Government has received with attention President Nixon’s communication indicating some uncertainty which has appeared in [Page 670]the President’s mind in light of the understanding reached in 1962 between the USSR and US Governments on the Cuban question.

“We noted with satisfaction the reaffirmation made by President Nixon in reply to our inquiry, that the appropriate understanding reached at that time on the Cuban question remains fully in force, that is, the United States as before will not seek by the force of arms, through military means to change the existing situation in Cuba. We also noted the reaffirmation made as regards the United States’s preventing such actions on the part of the Cuban counter-revolutionary exiles.

“On our part, we have already stated to President Nixon and are ready to affirm it again that in the Cuban question the Soviet Government continues to proceed from the understanding reached on this question in 1962.

“The Soviet side has not done and is not doing in Cuba now—that includes the area of the Cienfuegos port—anything of the kind that would contradict that mentioned understanding.

“The American side is well aware of the negative attitude generally on the part of the Soviet Union toward creating military bases by foreign states on the territory of other states. Moreover, the Soviet Government has introduced—both in the Committee on Disarmament and in the course of the Soviet-American strategic arms limitation talks—a proposal to limit the area of navigation for rocket-carrying submarines.

“In any case, we would like to reaffirm once more that the Soviet side strictly adheres to its part of the understanding on the Cuban question and will continue to adhere to it in the future on the assumption that the American side as President Nixon has reaffirmed, will also strictly observe its part of the understanding.

“I would like to draw your attention in connection with your remarks in our last conversation to the sometimes asserted ‘right’ for American atomic submarines to enter the Black Sea. Such assertions are groundless since the 1936 Convention on the status of the Black Sea Straits clearly forbids submarines of non-coastal states to enter the Black Sea.”

After I had read the Cuban note, Ambassador Dobrynin added that the Soviet Government would not be able to make an agreement that Soviet submarines would never call at Cuban ports but he was prepared to state that Soviet submarines would not call there in an operational capacity. He could not say whether there might not be one submarine in six months and another one in twelve months. I told him that I considered this a forthright statement. I stated that I was concerned, however, that there might be some ambiguity about the meaning of the word “base” and, therefore, I thought it would be very unfortunate if our two governments got into a major disagreement over the issue of what actually constituted a base. Consequently, our side [Page 671]would have some clarifying questions to ask the Soviet Government. At the very least we would have to state our view of what constituted a base. The presence of the Soviet ships, especially the tender and barges, at Cienfuegos, was clearly inconsistent with the understanding. Ambassador Dobrynin said he would send on these questions.

Ambassador Dobrynin then tried to engage me in a discussion of the Middle East, specifically whether I thought the Deputies in New York could make some progress in negotiations. I told him that the Mideast negotiations probably had to mark some time for the moment. He then asked whether I could provide some advance information about the President’s Vietnam speech.3 I replied that it was not finished yet. He asked whether I was worried that he might give the information to their North Vietnamese allies and promised that this would not happen. I said I would not want to test your loyalty to your allies in this manner, but that I would see whether I could get him an advance copy of the President’s remarks, perhaps by the next morning.

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. See footnote 2, Document 218.
  3. On October 7, President Nixon delivered an “Address to the Nation About a New Initiative for Peace in Southeast Asia.” (Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 825–828)