281. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

Tosit 15. To: White House eyes only for General Haig. Re: Your WH 10611.2 My analysis is that messenger’s response is largely due to our domestic situation. President will remember that I told him Pentagon Papers and Congressional situation will have its greatest impact in that quarter. It is not an unalloyed disadvantage for it eases other mission and sets up later visit to messenger if still desired in better psychological circumstances.

As for other visit host must suggest date. If this year intermediate visit will be eliminated. If next year it would be desirable. In either event there needs to be contact about modalities. Please get President’s reaction. What is your view of best date for country?

As for Kirschman channel let us make the judgement after the meeting. To me it seems things are moving though slowly. Also one more meeting is needed before final decision.

I agree about the response to the Danang shelling and will have proposal based on Saigon discussions when I return.

Keep things cool. Let us not throw things overboard out of pique.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 432, Backchannel Files, Very Sensitive Trip Cables. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Haig was in San Clemente. The message was received at the White House at 2:14 a.m. and relayed to San Clemente. The “messenger” in the text is Dobrynin. Kissinger described the message in his memoirs as follows: “I cabled Haig that Vorontsov’s note had its advantages. We could now complete the summits in our preferred order. The Soviet Union would find it more difficult to accuse us of bad faith in our opening to Peking (not a decisive factor, but helpful). And if the Soviets still wanted to go ahead with a Moscow summit—as I thought probable—it would take place in circumstances where the balance of interest was more visible.” (Kissinger, White House Years, p. 835)
  2. Document 280.