160. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1

K: Anatoliy?

D: You received it? I just pulled it from the telegram.2

K: Anatoliy, where do we go from here?

D: Where do you want to go? Before I go home… Exactly what it said was in my telegram. It was a quote.

K: Our view is this. They should agree on the principle of the limitation and what the limitation should contain.

D: The principle?

K: NCA against NCA or Safeguard against NCA should be settled first. When the negotiations start …

D: In Vienna?

K: First to be agreed upon is what the limitation is.

D: Limitation on offensive weapons?

K: No, on defensive.

D: On ABM?

K: What is to be limited.

D: You mean the sites?

K: They should agree on whether it should be sites—Moscow and Washington, or what. That is the question that should be settled first.

D: They have now to begin with the discussion about the idea of a separate agreement—to discuss as of now the major points of that agreement.

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K: But when we begin discussing an agreement, then we want site-by-site to discuss the principles of a “freeze.”

D: When they come to that one, they discuss freezing things, as you mentioned before?

K: We have this bureaucratic problem. In order to trigger this, we would prefer an exchange of letters or something on the order of a Presidential statement to which you agree. Nobody knows about this position yet.

D: If you don’t mind my repeating, it will be this way: first, as of now, they will begin in principle. You will send a telegram to yours and we will send one to ours.

K: Not yet. My proposal is we have to have some formal way to trigger this.

D: An exchange of letters or some statement?

K: And as soon as that exchange of letters is done, then we will send the instructions.

D: You gave the letter last time. We will give to you … Before the last letter, both sides accept in principle.

K: I understand. May I call you tonight when I get out there? I can talk to the President on the plane.

D: Today or tomorrow morning?

K: About 11:00 Washington time.

D: 11:00 is all right with me.

K: I will have discussed it with the President—and I will have it in front of me.

D: Instead of the “Soviet side,” say both sides.

K: We will discuss it tonight.

D: After 11:00?

K: After 10:00.

D: After 11:00 would be better.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 27, Dobrynin File. No classification marking. A typed note indicates that the call took place “after receipt of note delivered by Sokolov to Colonel Kennedy.”
  2. The text of the Soviet note, which was received in the White House at 4:10 p.m., is as follows: “The Soviet side considers acceptable in principle the idea of ‘freezing’ strategic offensive weapons, having in mind that details will be discussed after an agreement on ABM systems limitation has been reached. As regards an ABM agreement, our position is well-known: we are for a separate agreement on ABM, but on equal terms without giving any advantages to either of the sides.” In the margin, Kissinger wrote Dobrynin’s phone number in Moscow and a reformulation on SALT (“discussion of the details will be concluded simultaneously with the conclusion on agreement of ABM systems limitation”), presumably during their telephone conversation at 8:20 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 491, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 5 [part 2]) See Document 161.