291. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1

I had a discussion with Ambassador Dobrynin yesterday on a number of pending matters.2 In the course of the discussion he indicated that Mr. Gromyko might delay his visit to New York this fall in order to prepare for a high level visit to France (probably by Mr. Kosygin) sometime early in October.

Ambassador Dobrynin volunteered comment about your proposed visit to Peking by saying he thought it might be useful. As far as his government is concerned, he said, they are reacting in a relaxed way and with moderation. He said that he realized that the proposed [Page 864] visit was not directed at any other nation and he did not believe it should have any effect on the negotiations now pending between our two countries. Smilingly, he said that he thought we might be disappointed to some extent in the visit because Americans want instant solutions to problems and based on the negotiations which they are having with the Peoples Republic of China he doubted that there would be many concrete results for a long time.

We talked in a general way about the representation question in the United Nations and he said they intended to vote as they had in the past in support of the Peoples Republic of China. Yesterday, however, in a discussion with one of the Assistant Secretaries of State,3 Ambassador Dobrynin expressed the hope that the Republic of China would not be expelled. This view, of course, is very interesting, particularly if it represents the view of his government. It is possible, in that event, that they might be willing to quietly pass the word to certain African and Latin American countries in a way that would be helpful.

The Ambassador volunteered that Hanoi had seriously proposed the seven points in Paris in the hope that meaningful negotiations would ensue.4 He said that your proposed visit to China had put the proposals in a deep shadow but he hoped we would not lose sight of the fact that he believes they were seriously proposed as a basis for serious negotiations. He said that every time they discussed Viet-Nam with the Chinese they were faced with a diatribe against the United States so they have given up trying to discuss the subject. Ambassador Dobrynin said that possibly now in light of your proposed visit to the PRC their attitude on the subject of Viet-Nam would change.

The Ambassador asked if we would be interested in neutrality in Indochina. I replied that I thought our position had been clearly spelled out by you. I said that it was unrealistic, however, to think that we would consider removing the present government and replacing it with one selected by the other side. He said he understood that but that in the minds of the Chinese, President Thieu is a villain whom they cannot accept. I restated our position about the upcoming elections and the importance of having them conducted fairly. Ambassador Dobrynin then discoursed for minutes on the attitude of the Chinese toward Indochina. He said that in the conversations they have had with the Chinese they have said that even though things have not gone as well as [Page 865] they have hoped that the “progressive forces” would prevail in Indochina. He said the Chinese gave as their reasons for these conclusions their proximity to Indochina and the length of the conflict in Indochina. They contend, he said, that in the long run the United States would lose its stamina and zeal for maintaining its influence in a part of the world so removed from its shores. He said the Chinese repeatedly told them that the Americans had been involved for so long that their staying power would erode and they, the Chinese, could afford to wait.

Ambassador Dobrynin then said that he would do what he could to express to his government his own views that your decision to visit China was not intended to be anti-Russia and to urge his government to continue negotiations at SALT and on other matters in the same spirit that prevailed before the announcement was made. Ambassador Dobrynin expressed appreciation for having been given advance notice of the announcement.5

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 716, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XV. Secret; Nodis. According to a notation and attached correspondence profile, the President saw the memorandum on August 6. According to another copy, Rogers drafted the memorandum himself and sent a copy to Kissinger. (Ibid., RG 59, Rogers’ Office Files: Lot 73 D 443, Box 3, Chronological File, 1969–1973)
  2. According to his Appointment Book, Rogers met Dobrynin on July 20 at 4:40 p.m. (Personal Papers of William P. Rogers)
  3. Not further identified.
  4. Reference is to the seven-point proposal that Madame Binh, representing the Provisional Revolutionary Government, tabled at the formal peace negotiations in Paris on July 1. The proposal was largely based on a nine-point plan that Xuan Thuy gave Kissinger during a secret meeting in Paris on June 26. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume VII, Vietnam, July 1970–January 1972, Documents 226 and 233.
  5. Rogers also briefed Nixon and Kissinger during a meeting in the Oval Office at 3:49 p.m. on July 22: “So whether you saw the memo of my conversation with Dobrynin or not—I sent over to you—but it was very interesting. He was quite relaxed, as far as you could tell, about it. But he says that, that he thought the seven points were serious points for negotiations and that he thought we shouldn’t be—we shouldn’t forget them.” Rogers further reported that Dobrynin was “quite forthright about his comments about the Chinese. He said, ‘One of the difficulties you may have is that you’re all so eager to get things settled.’ He said, ‘You’re going to find the Chinese are not [laughs]—are tough to deal with.’ He said, ‘Christ, we’ve been—we meet with them every week and we don’t make a damn bit of progress!’ He said that they’re very obdurate. [laughs] He said, ‘You think it’s going to be easier than dealing with us, but it’s not.’ [laughs]” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation 543–1)