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

Nixon: Hello.

Kissinger: Mr. President.

Nixon: Well, how’s your weather, Henry? Pretty good?

Kissinger: Oh, it’s perfect.

Nixon: Good.

Kissinger: It’s perfect.

Nixon: Everything’s going well? You know—?

Kissinger: Yes. We’ve had a number of developments that Haig may have mentioned to you.

Nixon: No, he was out today over at CIA. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him.

Kissinger: Yes. Well, one is that the fellow in—

Nixon: Pakistan?

Kissinger: Semenov dropped a hint to Smith at a private meeting—2

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: —which pretty well indicated that they’re going to accept our position, but Smith didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: And I had Haig call in Dobrynin right away and then raise holy Cain.3 And he said, “Look, you read it carefully.” And he said, “It doesn’t”—what he, in effect, proposed was—he told us, in effect, not that they were giving us fits, but it would fit the outline they were going to take. It was almost the one we had asked them to take.

[Page 588]

Nixon: Hm-hmm.

Kissinger: It’s the same now. And, actually, there’s no change. They can take that position, and we take ours, and then we see what happens.

Nixon: Yes.

Kissinger: And then he said they recommend an adjournment on May 28th, and reassembly in July, which is, very much stems directly from the summit. And, actually, that would be, I think, Mr. President, ideal from our point of view—

Nixon: I see.

Kissinger: —because we could get the announcement out and for six weeks everybody would be finished, because no matter what happens, they’ll have to wait until these people reassemble.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: And he doesn’t need to put out the announcement of this new approach in the next two weeks. Then they could adjourn and say these are the instructions they’re going to get at the end of June, when they reassemble on July 1st.

Nixon: Hm-hmm.

Kissinger: And then, that would feed in very nicely, the culmination of the other things we have in mind.

Nixon: But Haig called Dobrynin in, did he?

Kissinger: Yeah, at my request. I told him that they just had to stop. I said—you know, I just wanted to give him hell anyway.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: And I said, “Look, they have—they haven’t answered—you have first to answer to the President. You haven’t answered yet.”

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: And he—I said, “We don’t want any of these hints in other places. If you have something to say, say it to us.”

Nixon: Good.

Kissinger: And he said, “Look, you ought to be encouraged by that. That’s special for him.” He wants to give a little encouragement to Smith.

Nixon: Yeah. Don’t give him too much. [laughs]

Kissinger: Well, that’s—

Nixon: Well, we’ll handle Smith.

Kissinger: Well, we’ve—I’ve told Haig to call all the departments and tell them to—that that reporting cable is to be given only the most restricted circulation.

Nixon: Right.

[Page 589]

Kissinger: And then he promised us an answer by Monday.4

Nixon: I see. On the summit—not on the summit.

Kissinger: No.

Nixon: But on the SALT, right?

Kissinger: Yeah. And he thought that if—he said his personal opinion is that it’ll be positive.

Nixon: Dobrynin thought that?

Kissinger: Yeah. And that’s mine too.

Nixon: Hm-hmm.

Kissinger: And actually that is—

Nixon: They’ve had a few other little—I noticed in reading the daily reports that they’re sort of saying, “Look, that Brezhnev’s speech indicates a more positive line.”

Kissinger: Yeah. Oh, they have to come in that way, Mr. President, or go very hard. And I don’t think they’re ready to go very hard.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: One thing they told Smith, unfortunately, is that they were accepting the idea of no new starts.

Nixon: I see.

Kissinger: Which is more than anyone ever suggested we would get.

Nixon: Yeah. Well, that’s all right. Let Smith think he accomplished something, too. That—

Kissinger: Well, next week, when those letters surface, Mr. President, there’s no doubt who did it.

Nixon: Oh sure. Right. Right.

Kissinger: We’ve had—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: —the idea, that would mean that we make the announcement at the end of next week.

Nixon: Yeah, I suppose so, if—unless they’re ready to make it earlier, then we should do it earlier. There may be a reason why we want to do it a little earlier, because of a vote that’s coming up in the Congress.5 But that’s all right. We’ll see—

Kissinger: Well, we can do it, I think, within three days of getting their answer. It will take that long to—you know, we have to notify a [Page 590] few allies, and then we have to find a common time with Moscow, and so forth.

Nixon: Right. Good. Good.

Kissinger: And this Pakistan fellow was in today. I asked Haig to write a memo for you.6

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: They—he said that he had had word that [unclear] that the Chinese [unclear] the Chinese let loose a blast today—

Nixon: I saw that. Yeah.

Kissinger: They communicated our message to them the same evening.

Nixon: I see.

Kissinger: They did it last Thursday7 [unclear].

Nixon: Hm-hmm.

Kissinger: And he said the reason they let loose a blast was because of those two State Department statements last week.8

Nixon: Yes, which, of course, should not have been made, because—

Kissinger: That’s right.

Nixon: —they were not consistent with my view of just saying nothing.

Kissinger: That’s right. But—

Nixon: They aren’t going to say anything more.

Kissinger: No. We’ve got that under control. And I have—

Nixon: And the State Department statements probably didn’t do any harm anyway, because—

Kissinger: That’s true.

Nixon: —we had to reassure the—we’ve got to—with the Chinese, we have to play a hard game with them too.

Kissinger: Absolutely. I don’t think it’s—there are going to be ups and downs in that relationship anyway. And they have to know that we’re no pushovers.

Nixon: Right.

[Page 591]

Kissinger: And he’s got—I’ve got this fellow Farland coming in on—

Nixon: Yeah, I know. I saw that.9 Saturday.

Kissinger: Yeah, Saturday.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: I’ll be able to give him a message.

Nixon: Well, when are you going to send the message to the Chinese? I would—I would not wait for Farland.

Kissinger: I’ll give it to Farland. That’s the fastest way to get it there.

Nixon: You mean Farland gives it to Yahya?

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: All right. Fine. Good. Good. All right. Give it to him.

Kissinger: That’s the fastest way, Mr. President, because the others have to send a courier any way.

Nixon: Right. Fine.

Kissinger: They can’t send it on their cables, [2 seconds not declassified]

Nixon: Right. Good.

Kissinger: And, so those things seem to be, seem to be in order.

Nixon: All right. All right. Well, that’s good. That sounds fine. Do it—do it through Farland. That’s good.

[Omitted here is discussion of Vietnam, including domestic support for the war.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation 2–95. No classification marking. The editors transcribed the portion of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. Nixon was in Washington; Kissinger was in Palm Springs, California. According to the tape log, the conversation took place at an unknown time between 6:13 and 7:45 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. See footnote 3, Document 201.
  3. See Documents 201 and 202.
  4. May 10.
  5. Reference is to a Senate resolution on the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. See Document 204.
  6. Dated May 5. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1031, For the President’s Files—China/Vietnam Negotiations, Exchanges leading up to HAK trip to China, December 1969–July 1971) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–13, Documents on China, 1969–1972, Document 5.
  7. April 29. During their meeting on May 5 (see footnote 6 above), Hilaly told Haig that Yahya had given the message to the Chinese Ambassador in Islamabad on May 1.
  8. See Document 199.
  9. In a May 4 memorandum to Nixon, Haig reported that he was arranging an “absolutely covert meeting” between Kissinger and Farland in Palm Springs on May 8. Nixon wrote the following instructions in the margin: “Just inform Farland—no need to delay until after K’s meeting with him.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1031, For the President’s Files—China/Vietnam Negotiations, Exchanges leading up to HAK trip to China, December 1969–July 1971) The meeting was subsequently rescheduled for May 7. For a memorandum of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–13, Documents on China, 1969–1972, Document 6. A May 15 memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon on the meeting is printed ibid., volume XVII, China, 1969–1972, Document 124.