176. Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Kissinger: Mr. President?

Nixon: Yeah, Henry.

Kissinger: I just wanted to mention a number of relatively minor things to you.

Nixon: Yeah.

[Omitted here is discussion of a South Vietnamese “raid-type” military operation.]

Kissinger: Secondly, I talked today to this fellow, Vorontsov, from the Soviet Embassy.2

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: The reason was that there’s a meeting between Rush and Abrasimov

Nixon: Yes.

Kissinger: —on Berlin. And I just wanted to make sure that they didn’t blow—that they understood which way the channels were going.

Nixon: Yes.

Kissinger: And—

Nixon: He understood that?

Kissinger: Oh, yeah. He understood it and he said that Dobrynin was coming back Sunday3 with new instructions, and that we should take the Brezhnev speech4 very seriously, and he was slobbering all over me.

Nixon: Good.

Kissinger: And—

Nixon: Well, we’ll see Sunday what he saw—tells you.

[Page 508]

Kissinger: And then I did something, which was a little unorthodox. I told him that Dobrynin had given me his phone number in Moscow.

Nixon: Hm-hmm.

Kissinger: So he called me up an hour—and I’d lost it—so he called me an hour later and said it might be a nice thing if I called Dobrynin and congratulated him on his Central Committee membership.

Nixon: Good. Good.

Kissinger: So I—in fact, I did it.5 And Dobrynin said, “We’ll have something on that exchange of letters when I get back.”

Nixon: He said that?

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: But he didn’t say what it was.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: And he also said he was coming with new instructions.

Nixon: But not indicating anything on the summit thing?

Kissinger: Well, he couldn’t, Mr. President, on an open telephone.

Nixon: Oh, it was open telephone. Okay.

Kissinger: Yeah, we don’t have a secure line.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: We have the hotline, but I didn’t want to use that.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: This was a commercial phone.

Nixon: Good.

Kissinger: And—

Nixon: But he probably—how’d he sound?

Kissinger: Oh, he sounded—they’re doing, they’re going to do something, Mr. President.

[Omitted here is discussion of Congressional relations and China.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation 1–79. No classification marking. The editors transcribed the portions of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met Kissinger in the Oval Office from 7:46 to 7:52 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files) An informal transcript of the conversation is ibid., Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 9, Chronological File.
  2. See Document 175.
  3. April 18.
  4. See Document 166.
  5. A transcript of the telephone conversation is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 29, Dobrynin File.