180. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Soviet Minister (Vorontsov)1

K: You know I called your Ambassador in Moscow?2

V: Indeed, and did you talk?

K: We didn’t discuss substance. I told him that you and I had talked. I called him to congratulate him on his elevation to the Central Committee.

V: When is he coming back? That is something of great interest to me.

K: He said early next week, so I assume Sunday.3 He said something about exchange of letters. But we had nothing substantive to discuss. The reason I am calling you is I just read the Washington Post. I saw a column by Evans and Novak claiming that some Presidential [Page 521] assistants have claimed that whatever is happening with Peking is going to speed up Soviet actions in other fields.4 First, no authorized Presidential assistant has talked to them.5 Second, I am putting out strict orders today that there is to be no discussion of this.6 Third, this isn’t our policy. Our policy is to make the maximum effort to have better relations with the Soviet Union. We don’t want any confusion in Moscow about where our priorities are. We are waiting for some answers from you, but what is happening on other fronts is totally independent, in a different direction, and does not have the same priority.

V: I see.

K: We can never be sure which fifth-level official wants to prove he’s important by talking to a newsman.

V: That happens some times.

K: Not so much in your country. But if you can let them know in Moscow about this conversation …

V: I will do that. You can be assured of that.

K: Okay, and if you will let me know when the Ambassador is coming back …

V: I will do that.

K: Good. Thank you.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Transcripts, Box 9, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 176.
  3. April 18.
  4. Evans and Novak wrote: “In the fascinating game of triangular big-power politics between Moscow, Peking and Washington, hatred between the Russians and Chinese could make Washington the fulcrum if Mr. Nixon doesn’t overplay his hand.” (Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, “Nixon Gains on China Ties,” Washington Post, April 15, 1971, p. A19)
  5. According to his Record of Schedule, Kissinger met Evans for breakfast on April 12 from 8:50 to 9:52 a.m.; on April 15, Kissinger left his office at 7:45 for dinner with Evans and Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) No record of either conversation has been found. Kissinger also called Evans at 2:45 p.m. on April 16. During the conversation, Evans remarked: “I want the deed on that story. I want to break that—a full column.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 9, Chronological File)
  6. In an April 14 memorandum to Irwin, Kissinger issued the following instructions: “the President has asked that all substantive comments by U.S. officials, including responses to formal press inquiries, background statements, on and off-the-record remarks and guidance to Posts abroad, concerning U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China be cleared with him through my office.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 283, Agency Files, Dept of State, Vol. X)