263. Memorandum of Conversation1

  • SUBJECT
    • Meeting with Dobrynin

The meeting took place because I had promised Dobrynin to introduce him to Rush and to make clear that we understood the agreed procedures for proceeding on Berlin.

After introducing Rush and some pleasantries, I told Dobrynin that the President had met twice with Rush.2 I had met separately with Rush and Bahr and jointly with them for extended conversations.3 As a result, we had agreed on the following: (1) The President wanted to reaffirm his desire to expedite a Berlin agreement; (2) Rush had been instructed to be as flexible as possible within the general framework of American policies; (3) we proposed a continuation of the Bahr/Falin/Rush talks. As they were finishing each section, they were to agree on how to handle it in the Four Power context; (4) the Advisors’ meetings were a bad forum because our advisors were instructed by the regular bureaucracy and would, therefore, reject even matters that Bahr, Falin and Rush had already agreed to. Therefore, there should be a stalemate in the advisors’ talks, and Abrasimov should suggest at the next Ambassadors’ meeting on July 7th or 8th that henceforth matters [Page 780]be moved into the Ambassadorial context. At these Ambassadorial meetings, Rush could propose compromise formula that had previously been concerted; (5) Falin, Bahr and Rush should agree among each other how to handle it. For example, the question of transit could be handled by Abrasimov putting forward a modification of the Soviet position which was still unacceptable, but which showed some progress. Rush could then propose a compromise which knocked out some of the ideas of Abrasimov, but which would come close to or be the agreed language. On other topics, the process could be reversed. In any event, there had to be some bargaining or some seeming bargaining in order to explain why the progress; (6) I told Dobrynin that I had carefully gone over with Bahr and Rush the proposals that he had made for specific formulations and that the answer would be given by Rush. I did not want to inject myself into the detail drafting process; (7) on the specific matter of Soviet presence in Berlin which he had raised at the last meeting with me,4 Rush had been given new instructions to conform with what I had already told Dobrynin;5 (8) I had worked out a procedure with Rush and Bahr according to which, if nothing new happened, the three would agree by the end of July on a Berlin solution and the Four Powers by the end of August.

Dobrynin asked whether, under the formula we proposed, it was the Soviets who had to make all the compromise proposals in the Big Four context. Rush explained that this was not the case, and that either side could make proposals, but that the precise details should be worked out by the three. Dobrynin said he thought this was a positive program and that it might lead to a result.

I then asked Rush to wait for me outside, and turned to other matters. First, I pointed out that the Izvestia comments6 on our papers which linked the Nixon to the Johnson Administration and criticized the President were taken extremely ill, and that I hoped there would be no continuation of it. Dobrynin said that the press had general instructions to oppose the war in Vietnam and to show an unbroken web. He was certain that this was not done on governmental instructions—all the more so as Brezhnev was actually out of the country.7

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I then raised the question of the Summit and said that I hoped we would get an answer by the end of next week because if we did not, I thought we should call off the whole project. Dobrynin said that he must have misunderstood what I told him at Camp David8 because he had told Moscow that we might be willing to agree to either the period between March and May, if September was not suitable, though we preferred September. He said it would give an impression of a profound reversal if he now had to notify Moscow that the Spring was no longer possible. I told him, no, we preferred September, but I’d have to check with the President and let him know about the Spring. I called him back an hour and a half later and told him to stick with his present instructions.9

Dobrynin then handed me a piece of paper (attached)10 which lifted some discrepancies between our English text and their translation of the SALT letter. He said it was not a major matter because we were not responsible for their translation of the text. I said that I did not think that any issues would have to be settled by recourse to the text and that I hoped they would approach matters in a positive spirit. Dobrynin said they would but that it would be extremely helpful if we did not insist from the beginning that we talk about ABM and offensive weapons jointly. He said this would create a major bureaucratic difficulty for them and weaken the influence of the Foreign Office. He could assure me that if we concentrated on ABM for the first two or three weeks, that then there would be no difficulty linking the offensive discussions. I told him I would take this up with Smith.11

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 491, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 6 [part 1]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Young sent a draft of this memorandum and another summarizing its “highlights” for the President to Haig on June 24. According to an attached note, the memoranda were held for Kissinger until his return from a meeting with Le Duc Tho in Paris on June 26. Kissinger then decided to file both rather than forward them to the President. The meeting was held in the Map Room at the White House. According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, the meeting lasted until 6:04 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)
  2. Nixon and Kissinger met Rush on June 14 from 6:12 to 6:45 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) A tape recording of the conversation is ibid., White House Tapes, Conversation No. 519–15. Excerpts from the conversation are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Document 253.
  3. In addition to the meeting on June 14 (see footnote 2 above), Kissinger met Rush on June 15 from 6:10 to 7 p.m. In addition to the meeting with Brandt on June 15 (see footnote 6, Document 257), Kissinger met Bahr twice on June 17, from 8 to 9:10 a.m. and from 2:45 to 3:20 p.m. Kissinger also met both Rush and Bahr on June 16 from 5:32 to 6:35 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76, Record of Schedule) A memorandum of the second meeting with Bahr on June 17 is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Document 257.
  4. See Document 257.
  5. In spite of Kissinger’s assurances to Dobrynin, Rogers instructed Rush on June 23 that any increase in the Soviet presence in West Berlin must be both limited and unofficial. (Telegram 112959 to Bonn, June 23; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 38–6)
  6. V. Matveyev, “The War’s Secret,” Izvestia, June 19, 1971 (morning edition), p. 1. For the English text, see FBIS, Daily Report, Soviet Union, No. 120, Vol. III (June 22, 1971).
  7. Brezhnev attended the SED Party Congress in East Berlin, where he delivered a speech on June 16. (Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXIII, No. 25 (July 20, 1971), pp. 2–4)
  8. See Document 252.
  9. A transcript of the conversation is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 27, Dobrynin File.
  10. Attached but not printed.
  11. Kissinger called Smith at 8:45 a.m. on June 23 to report on his meeting with Dobrynin. According to a transcript, the conversation included the following exchange: “K: I think if we just table something and say our understanding is we are going to take up ABM first it will be all right. S: I said there was no chance of talking about the [defensive] part without also discussing the [offensive] part. K: You are right about that. If you could find a work modality I think they would consider it a sign of our good faith. Say first defensive, then offensive and then concurrently. S: Let me work out a paper on this and send it over to you.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 10, Chronological File)