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


  • Memorandum of Conversation with Dobrynin April 14, 1969

After an exchange of pleasantries, Dobrynin said that Moscow had asked him to talk to me about the situation in the Middle East. Moscow was prepared to come to an understanding on the Middle East as rapidly as possible. On the other hand, Moscow’s feeling was that we were proceeding too abstractly. The principles put forward by Joseph Sisco were all very well, but the key issue was the location of the frontiers and other matters. He felt that we should put forward a proposal which would be kept in strictest confidence and the Soviet Union would see whether they could turn it into a joint offer to both sides. I replied that we did not want to be in a position where we had to make all the proposals, deliver all the parties and take all the criticism. Dobrynin said [Page 133] that the Soviet Union would do a great deal to make an agreement but “you have to be specific.” For example, the U.S. constantly asked for a contractual agreement. However, it had never stated what it understood by a contractual agreement. “Why don’t you write out a paragraph that tells us exactly what you want Nasser to say and if we agree with it, we will try to get them to accept it.” Similarly, he said it was impossible for the Soviet Union to know what we had in mind about troop withdrawals. The U.S. spoke of border rectification but we had given no indication of where the frontier was to be. He added that “the Soviet Union did not care about Golan Heights or the Gaza Strip. Indeed, whether the borders were 30 miles east or west is of no difference to us as long as both sides agree.” I told him that Sisco was likely to produce a scheme within the next two weeks. If it presented any difficult problems, I suggested Dobrynin get in touch with me.

We then turned to discussions on Vietnam.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 489, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1969, Part 2, Vol. I. Secret; Nodis. A handwritten notation on the first page reads: “Back from the President, 4/16/69.”
  2. See Document 36.