284. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1

D: Hello.

K: Hello.

D: How are you?

K: I am fine. The President asked me to call you personally. We have an oral note for your government when I am through. I will read the announcement the President is going to make and then I have a few comments to make and you will be given an oral note [omission in transcript].

D: Which he is going to make on address?

K: “Premier Chou En-Lai and Dr. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, held talks in Peking from July 9 to 11, 1971. Knowing of President Nixon’s expressed desire to visit the People’s Republic of China, Premier Chou En-Lai, on behalf of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, has extended an invitation to President Nixon to visit China at an appropriate date before May 1972. President Nixon has accepted this invitation with pleasure. The meeting between the leaders of China and the United States is to seek the normalization of relations between the two countries and also to exchange views on questions of concern to the two sides.”2

D: This is the text you just read? [omission in transcript]

K: The comments are as follows: The President asked me to tell you to transmit these comments to your Government. [omission in transcript] handed an oral note from President.

D: Comments by Col. Kennedy?

K: He will hand it to you after I am finished. Consequently (?) “It is essential that [your government not misread the meaning of this event] and that our two countries continue to work [cooperatively] on [Page 835] all the issues we have been discussing. This is the spirit of the note [which Colonel Kennedy has just handed you,] and for which we hope [you will] transmit [promptly] to Moscow.”3

D: Just a minute. The note which Col. Kennedy is going to give me is from the President to go to my government? Message of the President?

K: Col. Kennedy is giving you an oral note. I am giving you some additional comments [from] the President.

D: [omission in transcript] What you just mentioned?

K: I am not finished yet.

D: Repeat, please.

K: “You know better than anyone the great efforts we have made over the past two years to make progress.”

D: Just a minute.

K: “And in particular [to give] priority [to] a meeting of our leaders.”

D: Yes.

K: “Your recent decision to delay [the date for such a summit] has caused us to proceed [first with the announcement the President is making this evening].”

D: Just a minute—yes.

K: Okay, I continue. “This announcement changes nothing in U.S.-Soviet relations.4 We can take [one of] two routes—We can proceed promptly with the various subjects you and I have discussed and which we are hereby reaffirming, or we can both undertake an agonizing reappraisal. We are prepared for either course, though we prefer to proceed on our present course.”5 Now, what I have read to you are oral comments of the President.

D: Of the President?

K: You will be handed an oral note. This was comments on the oral note.

[Page 836]

D: Oral note is from President and [this] is oral comments from President. [omission in transcript]

K: I am prepared to discuss future promises with you if you are interested. Suggest lunch on Monday.

D: How about 1:00 p.m. on Monday?6

K: Okay.

D: I would like to check on one phrase. “And we should both undertake—”

K: What we are reaffirming is what I told you on June 8 and 30.7

D: Because this is not quite clear you mean toward (?) what you have discussed on June 8 and 11 [30].

K: I think the oral note will explain it.

D: I understand [omission in transcript] reaffirm [omission in transcript] of new defense up to both governments to decide what to do. Lunch Monday at 1:00.

K: Come to usual place in White House.

D: I understand. [omission in transcript] this is what the President is going to say.

K: He is going to say on television. He is going to add a few sentences that this is not directed toward anyone.8

D: Okay, I see you.

K: See you Monday at 1:00 p.m.

D: Bye.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 27, Dobrynin File. No classification marking. Kissinger was in San Clemente; Dobrynin was in Washington at the White House. For their memoir accounts, see Kissinger, White House Years, p. 835, and Dobrynin, In Confidence, pp. 226–227.
  2. The text Kissinger read is identical to the announcement Nixon made that evening, which was simultaneously released in Beijing. For the full text of the President’s remarks, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 819–820.
  3. The editor corrected the text of these comments in brackets on the basis of Kissinger’s talking points. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1036, For the President’s Files—China/Vietnam Negotiations, China—General, July–October 1971) Two substantive omissions from the talking points are also noted below.
  4. The transcript omits the following sentences from Kissinger’s talking points: “It is not directed at you. We are still ready for a US-Soviet summit and to move ahead on our various negotiations.”
  5. The transcript printed here omits the following sentence from Kissinger’s talking points: “We see no reason to take the second course.”
  6. July 19.
  7. See Documents 252 and 269.
  8. The President’s remarks included the following passage: “Our action in seeking a new relationship with the People’s Republic of China will not be at the expense of our old friends. It is not directed against any other nation. We seek friendly relations with all nations. Any nation can be our friend without being any other nation’s enemy.”