264. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman)1
[Omitted here is discussion of the President’s and Kissinger’s schedules.]
Kissinger: I talked to Dobrynin yesterday—
Nixon: What did he have?
Kissinger: —mostly about Berlin and the complicated machinery set up on how to get it settled.2
Kissinger: Well, I want to give them a maximum incentive.
Kissinger: Also I set up a machinery that strings it out through July and August. At the end of that meeting, then—
Nixon: It’ll be strung out for your trip.
Kissinger: —he raised—I first said two things. I said that we were outraged by their linking this administration to the previous one through the Vietnam papers in Izvestia, and if they were going to—
Kissinger: —start playing that sort of a game, we would know what to do.
Kissinger: We then—but then, the major topic was the summit. As you had told me the night before,3 I said, “Now, I just want to remind you, I expect an answer by the end of next week. If you can’t decide on it, we’ll just have to let it lapse.” Well, that got him very, very excited, because he said, “Oh God, no!” He said, “Then I’ve misreported.” [Page 783] Because he said, “You told me in Camp David”—and that’s true4—“that if it isn’t in September, then the only other time it can be is in the spring.”
Kissinger: And he’s now reported that to Moscow. And he said—
Kissinger: So he pulled back from that. In any case, he has told Moscow that they must make a definite decision by the end of this month; that we will have it no later than July 4th. He said Brezhnev was in Germany and, therefore, the decision couldn’t be made right away. Now, I then tried to reach you; you were at dinner. I tried to reach Bob; he was at dinner. And I decided we didn’t have any choice anyway, because—
Kissinger: —if I insisted that it had to be September or nothing, and then they said September, and then we kick them in the teeth with the Chinese, it would really be brutal if they then didn’t give us September. So, I told him to leave it stand. And it has this other advantage that, if they don’t give us September, and we then do go to Peking in October or November, let them cancel the spring. Why should we do it? It’s—
Kissinger: And the spring—
Nixon: Right after—
Kissinger: The spring wouldn’t be announced.
Nixon: The other thing, of course, that really should be—I would assume you have already made to him—that what we are thinking of, if they go in September, is a return visit on their part next spring.
Kissinger: I haven’t said that yet. I thought you should do that in Moscow.
Nixon: Well, I’m inclined to think that that’s what we want. I mean, it may be that Brezhnev—he has dropped, I noticed, several hints with regard to his not traveling abroad and wanting to do some foreign travel and so forth and so on.
Nixon: And it may be that that’s what we want. If we wanted—if that’s what we really want, that’s what, we should put it up to them.
Kissinger: I’m gradually coming to the view that we might even be better off not having Moscow this year and having Peking, getting [Page 784] that up—that’s the one. And taking our chances on Moscow next year and—
Kissinger: —giving Moscow an incentive.
Haldeman: Except if you got Peking locked for next year and get, still get Moscow this year, you’re in pretty good shape.
Nixon: That’s the point.
Kissinger: Well, we’ll know—
Nixon: Well, we’re doing fine. Hell, you’d love to be in the position to get both—
Kissinger: Well, we got another panting message from the Chinese that all technical arrangements—
Kissinger: —are going forward.
Nixon: Let them—look, we’ve gone as far as we can, and the Soviet, damn it, they know what the score is. You’ve been perfect—totally honestly with them. And, now, it’s up to them.
[Omitted here is discussion of Congress, Vietnam, and the Pentagon Papers case.]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation 527–4. No classification marking. The editors transcribed the portion of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon, who had just returned from a weekend vacation at Key Biscayne, Florida, met Kissinger in the Oval Office from 1:55 to 2:43 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files)↩
- See Document 263.↩
- Kissinger and Nixon spent the evening of June 20 first aboard the Coco Lobo III and then at the residence of C.G. “Bebe” Rebozo in Key Biscayne. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) No record of either conversation has been found.↩
- See Document 252.↩