213. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman)1

K: Our pal gave in on all disputed points.2

H: He did! You are kidding!

K: There is only one minor issue. It may force one more go-around. Chances are—nine out of ten—that we can make an announcement next Thursday.3

H: Boy, that would be great. You don’t know whether he is going to have another go-around?

K: Almost certain not. The issue is whether it is possible to translate the Russian text the way he said it can be. They already agreed to a press announcement. The only other point is to see whether the text of the letter also has the same formulation as the text of the press announcement. If that’s the same then we have no problem at all. We can [Page 635] handle it in two ways—get another formula out of them which would take two weeks or to make the press announcement—in other words we got exactly what we wanted.

H: That was a worthwhile afternoon. How long did you spend with him?

K: About one and one-half hours.

H: What is his mood?

K: After I let him have it yesterday4—he is abject now. He says I am the toughest guy he has had to deal with here.

H: Good! That’s exactly what he ought to be thinking. That’s really great if we could actually tie it together.

K: The thing, Bob, you have to prevent is to oversell this thing. This is only an agreement to negotiate. If we lock ourselves into [omission in transcript] then they will screw us in actual negotiations. That’s something we will discuss next week. Let’s wrap it up first.

H: The tendency is to go all out on it.

K: That’s right and you have to help me resist it. We have not gone wrong by playing it cool. The beauty of it is that no one will look at it for four weeks.

H: Smith doesn’t go back to Vienna?

K: Just to wind it up. For four weeks that [they?] can’t attack us—it would be just suicide.

H: Smith would not make the announcement?

K: The President would make the announcement.

H: Does he know we are going to do it?

K: No. The Russians have offered him one-half of what they offered us and he was just panting to take it.

H: How is he going to deal with his friend5 on it? I don’t see how it is all that big of a problem but it worries him.

K: It is a crucial situation where the President has to worry about achieving an arms proposal by putting up proposals which his bureaucracy said was impossible.

H: But we can’t make high [hay?] of it because we have to wait for the negotiations.

K: We already got more than what most people thought we could get—an agreement to negotiate.

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H: Did you get into any announcement on the Summit?

K: No, but I have Berlin cooking in such a way that I am …

H: But he didn’t raise the Summit at all—your plan now is to lay low until he says something?

K: Right. He will come back. Our judgment has proven very accurate now on what they do.

H: Who knows, maybe we will start a sequence going now. Win one on the SST6—if we can win one on the Mansfield amendment7—pick up a few other along the way.

K: Right.

H: You still think you will hear on your other thing next week?8

K: The one on Pakistan—Oh, no! It will be at least two more weeks. It could come fast but I . . . .

H: What about the other one?9

K: The 8th?

H: You set the date for the 16th.

K: You mean the trip?

H: The other thing.

K: Oh, no, they turned it off.

H: We have enough things to keep them convinced.10

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Transcripts, Box 10, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. Dobrynin. See Documents 211 and 212.
  3. May 20.
  4. See Document 209.
  5. Semenov.
  6. The House of Representatives voted on May 12 to restore funding for supersonic transport (SST) aircraft.
  7. Mansfield announced on May 12 that his amendment limiting the number of American soldiers stationed in Europe would come to a vote in the Senate on May 19.
  8. China. See footnote 9, Document 206.
  9. Vietnam. In accordance with instructions from Kissinger, Walters met a North Vietnamese representative in Paris on April 24 and proposed a resumption of the secret peace talks on May 16. See Kissinger, White House Years, p. 1017.
  10. Haldeman wrote an addendum to his diary entry for May 12: “This items added as Henry K called me after I had done the other tape, to report that in his meeting with Dobrynin today, he had gotten agreement in all of the specifics of the SALT thing except for one minor technicality that relates to translation in the letter, as related to the wording in the press release. Henry says there’s a 9 out of 10 chance that we’ll be able to make the announcement next Thursday, and that if it gets hung up at all, it will only be hung up on this technicality, which can be worked out in two weeks, but it would take that if they do have to actually move in and work it out. He’s very pleased and thinks he’s gotten over the first hurdle in his series of negotiating plans, and now we will anxiously await the next one.” (Haldeman, Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)