128. Editorial Note

On February 26, 1971, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin met in the Map Room at the White House from 6 until 6:43 p.m. to discuss several issues, including Berlin and Vietnam. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76, Record of Schedule) Kissinger reported the discussion on the Berlin negotiations in a special channel message to Ambassador to West Germany Kenneth Rush on March 3:

“I met with Dobrynin on Feb. 26 and handed him your formulation of the access proposal. [See Document 123.] I said it might be well for Abrasimov to introduce it in the Four Power context. Dobrynin said that he recognized that some advance had been made but the principles themselves were probably too unchanged to meet with Moscow’s approval. I said we had gone as far as possible.

Dobrynin inquired about the Federal Presence issue. I said that we should make progress on access first and then I was certain the presence question could be looked at in new light. Dobrynin said that their perception was exactly the opposite. He would report to Moscow and let me know.

“We seem to have reached the same deadlock you have in Berlin.

“The only other interesting item is that Dobrynin told me Abrasimov is now instructed to discuss limitations on committee and party group meetings with you. I told him that I doubted we would proceed pending progress on access.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1 [2 of 2])

During the meeting, Dobrynin also gave Kissinger a Soviet note protesting the South Vietnamese invasion of Laos. After a summary of previous statements on the subject, the note presented a summary of the Soviet position, including the following passage:

“Without the United States displaying in deeds their readiness for a peaceful settlement in Indochina on the basis of respect for the lawful rights of the peoples of that region, the situation there will inevitably [Page 379] continue to be aggravated with all the ensuing dangerous consequences for the international relations as a whole, including the relations between our two countries.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 490, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Vol. 4 [part 1])

According to the memorandum of conversation, when Kissinger asked whether the Soviets expected a reply to the note, Dobrynin replied: “No, but it might be courteous to do so.” Kissinger said he would see Dobrynin “next week.” (Ibid.) Kissinger forwarded the memorandum of conversation and a memorandum summarizing it (as well as the memorandum of his conversation with Dobrynin on March 5) to President Richard Nixon on March 16. A note on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw it. (Ibid.)

During Kissinger’s meeting with Dobrynin on February 26, Nixon met in the Oval Office with White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman to discuss various issues, including Kissinger’s role in the Middle East. (Ibid., White House Central Files) Secretary of State William Rogers, meanwhile, called the President at 6:18 p.m. to report that the Israeli Government had released its official reply to Gunnar Jarring, U.N. Special Representative in the Middle East, who had proposed starting talks for an interim Suez Canal agreement before expiration on March 7 of the latest 90–day cease-fire. (Ibid., White House Tapes, Conversation 460–28) As Nixon left the Oval Office at 6:45 p.m., Kissinger called Haldeman, presumably to report on his meeting with Dobrynin. Although the transcript does not record the beginning of the conversation, Haldeman reported that Nixon wanted Kissinger to assess the Israeli reply. “He wants you to go over it,” Haldeman added, “and he wants to have a meeting off-the-record in the morning with you, Laird, Rogers, and Helms.” (Ibid., Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 9, Chronological File)