105. Memorandum for the President’s File1

    • Meeting of Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin in The Map Room, The White House, 1:00 p.m., January 28

I requested the meeting in order to give Dobrynin the answers to our discussions of the previous week.2 After an exchange of pleas-antries, I told Dobrynin that the President had studied his presentation and had found it positive. He agreed to a Summit in principle, to take place either the second half of July or the first half of September, in the Soviet Union. The Summit could cover the agenda items discussed between the President and the Soviet Foreign Minister.3 The President wished to confirm the channel of Dobrynin-Kissinger in order to work out the preliminary details of the, agenda.

I then went through the various subjects with him.


I told Dobrynin that the President was prepared to proceed along the lines that we had discussed; that is to say, that Dobrynin and I would discuss the outstanding issues, and after some agreement in principle, move our conclusions into the Four-Power discussions on Berlin. I also told Dobrynin that I planned to speak to Bahr on an early occasion, and that we were also bringing Ambassador Rush back to make certain that he would be in on these arrangements

I reiterated the need for total secrecy of this channel, and that if the channel became public or was leaked to people other than those authorized to know, we would simply break it off. Dobrynin said they had always respected the privacy of this channel; moreover, it was very much in their interest to preserve its secrecy and I could therefore be sure. He said that Falin had told Bahr that there might be a separate [Page 313]channel, but had not told him its nature and, except for that, no other person had been told. Dobrynin said that he thought this information would be well received in Moscow, and that he was hoping that some significant progress could be made in the next few months.


We then turned to SALT. I told Dobrynin that we had not really had a formal reply to our proposition, and yet it was quite important that we have one. We had to make Congressional presentations on SALT and the ABM. We had to prepare for the next meeting in Vienna. It was therefore quite important that we knew Soviet intentions.

Dobrynin said, speaking off the record, it was important for me to understand that SALT presented the Soviets with tough bureaucratic problems. It was very hard for them to handle it since they have no lateral clearances in their bureaucracy. He therefore thought it would be helpful if I would formulate the proposition in the form of an unsigned Note Verbale which he could transmit to Moscow in order to elicit a response. I said to Dobrynin that, for a response to be helpful to us, it should be forthcoming in the next week or two. He said he would transmit the question to Moscow.

Next Dobrynin said that he had, however, a number of other questions of some interest. He said if he had understood me correctly, I was proposing a freeze on offensive deployments—specifically, land-based missiles—in return for a formal ABM agreement. I said that was correct. Dobrynin then said that this might present some problem with respect to silos that had already been started but had not yet been completed. Would the Soviet Union be permitted to complete the silos that were started? It would be hard for the Soviet bureaucracy to accept the losses of resources involved in an unfinished silo. I said I could not give him a clear answer, but I was certain that this would be considered a reasonable question to which we would try to find some response. Dobrynin said it had occurred to him that one way of handling the problem would be to put the date at which no further construction could take place at some point in the future—say, January 1st of next year. If that were done, Dobrynin said, this would enable them to finish; they would simply have to pay the price for those that were not finished by then. I said as soon as he was authorized to discuss these issues concretely I would be prepared on my side with a formal position.

Dobrynin then asked me how we were going to conclude the SALT arrangement if he and I talked. I said if he and I could agree in principle to proceed along the lines that we had discussed,—that is to say, a formal ABM agreement coupled with an offensive freeze—then I would suggest that the President make a speech early in March in which he puts forward this as an idea and the Soviet Union could respond to it positively. Vienna would then be an exercise in implementing a prior [Page 314]agreement. Dobrynin asked whether we would, together with the speech, plan a formal démarche to the Soviet Government. I said we had really not thought the matter through, and we would be very receptive to their suggestion. Dobrynin said that, given the way the Soviet bureaucracy worked, it would be helpful to have a formal record in addition to whatever the President might say publicly, and to have that formal material part of the record before the speech is made. I said I did not believe this would present an insuperable obstacle.

Middle East

Dobrynin then turned the conversation to the Middle East and asked me whether the President was prepared to resume bilateral talks on the Middle East. I said he was in principle willing to engage himself more fully, but we first wanted to see how the negotiations went. Dobrynin said again, “The negotiations aren’t going to go anywhere. They are at a deadlock. I hope you do not think you can settle this without us or, even less, that you can settle it against us.” I said we had no such idea and we would make that clear in the President’s report on the state of foreign policy.

I asked Dobrynin whether there was any interest in Moscow in the plan to open the Canal put forth by Dayan. I had reason to believe there might be some possibility that Cairo was interested. (I was thinking of the (Amin?) channel.)4

Dobrynin said that, if we could give him some advance warning of what we proposed to do at the Four-Power meetings in New York, he was certain that this would be well received. I said I would look into the matter. I said there was some talk of opening up the guarantees issue, but it would be in a very abstract and academic form. Dobrynin smiled and said, “I guarantee that you are going to produce a complete impasse.”

Dobrynin returned to the Berlin issue and said that the Soviet Union had attentively studied my suggestion that there had to be some guarantees. He then handed me the attached piece of paper (Tab A)5 [Page 315]which represents the strongest statement so far that the Soviet Union has made for assuming some responsibility for the outcome of an eventual West German-East German agreement. Dobrynin told me that Rush’s inflexibility had presented a peculiar problem for Abrasimov. Abrasimov actually has instructions to go further than he did on access procedures; however, since Rush was absolutely unyielding, he could not present them. He did not want to be in a position of seeming to keep making concessions. He therefore wondered whether Rush could offer anything at the February 9th meeting to show some move on our part to which, in turn, Abrasimov could then respond.


I told Dobrynin that the President noted the Soviet intention to avoid provocative measures during the preparation for a Summit. He was prepared to act on this basis. At the same time, a group of Soviet ships, including a submarine tender, was heading towards Cuba and now was located east of the Azores. This would not be considered a friendly act by the President. Dobrynin said he would report the conversation to Moscow.6

We agreed to meet again after I had prepared the ground with Bahr and Rush and to let Dobrynin know what the procedure would be.

Dobrynin said he would check in Moscow.7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 490, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 4 [part 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. According to another copy, Kissinger and Young drafted the memorandum on February 1. Kissinger forwarded this memorandum and another summarizing it to the President on the same day. A note on the summary memorandum indicates that the President saw it. Kissinger, however, revised this memorandum on February 10; substantive revisions are noted below. (Ibid.) According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, the meeting began at 12:05 and lasted until 1:15 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)
  2. See Document 103.
  3. See Document 23.
  4. According to a handwritten note in the margin, this paragraph was added to the memorandum on February 9. The parenthetical name and question mark in the last sentence were also inserted by hand. Regarding the Dayan initiative, see footnote 5, Document 62.
  5. The text of the note at Tab A reads as follows: “It goes without saying that the arrangement reached between the four powers on questions related to the status of West Berlin, as well as the agreements between the GDR and respectively the FRG and the Senate of West Berlin on questions of civil transit to West Berlin and therefrom, and on access for persons from West Berlin to the territory of the GDR, including its capital, are to be strictly implemented. Implementation of the arrangement on each question presupposes implementation of the arrangement on other questions. In those cases if facts of violation of the arrangement in this or that part thereof would take place, each of the four powers would have the right to call the attention of the other participants in the arrangement to the principles of the present settlement with the view of holding within the framework of their competence proper consultations aimed at removing the violations that took place and at bringing the situation in compliance with the arrangement.”
  6. During a telephone conversation at 9:20 a.m. on February 1, Kissinger and Haldeman (who was with the President in Florida) discussed this issue: “K: There were three Soviet ships headed for Cuba. I raised hell with Dobrynin on [January 28]. Yesterday they stopped dead in the water. There was another submarine tender going down there. H: That’s good. You hit them and they stopped. We’ll just sit tight then.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 8, Chronological File)
  7. According to a handwritten note in the margin, this sentence was added to the memorandum on February 9.