173. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and McGeorge Bundy1
K: Mac, I wanted to talk to you for a minute about communication from Harris, which I read with intense interest.2 Let me tell you what the situation is—this is not inconsistent with what we have been picking up through regular channels but very private channels and we are most anxious for them to stay in these channels. We don’t think that business leaders going around making similar noises are going to help this matter—we want them to stay serious. Any signal that they can get that we are serious that this is the time for major movement would be extremely helpful. Now, how can we get that done? Can you talk to that fellow?3
B: Yes, I can.
K: You can do it with more expertise.
B: I can say to Harris on the whole I am interested in what he says and would like to talk to him. Then you might tell me what in particular I can say—what my feel of what my friends in Washington now think.
K: You can tell him for example that the Brezhnev speech was read with extreme seriousness in Washington—made a genuinely positive impression.
B: Can I tell them amendments were noticed?
K: Yes, and at very high levels and that we are interested in a fundamental improvement of relations. That we think SALT is a particularly useful subject on which to make progress but that we are open in other areas as well and that you know from personal conversations with me that this is an unusual opportunity.
B: And whether there is some specific area where they think progress is possible. Put the question back to him but with friendly noises.
K: Correct! I think that would be helpful. If the President thought the Soviets were trying to bring pressure on him, he might tend to pull back.[Page 499]
B: That’s true of most Presidents. I will play it that way and let you know what happens. I can send this back second-hand, but you want me to show enough interest in talking to this guy. I probably will see him with Harris in order not to break the channel. No problem.
K: I would appreciate it very much.
[Omitted here is discussion of Vietnam.]
B: Send me what you have in the public domain and I will appreciate it. If I have a brainstorm on how non-government can help, I will let you know. I will talk to that old bird. I don’t know if the Harris papers you have mentioned distinct upgrading of Brezhnev.
K: It sounds authentic. Let me know when you come to Washington. I would like to have lunch or dinner with you.
B: Okay, Henry.