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

K: I wanted to ask you—one of your citizens wants to see me who is well known and I want to know if you have an interest. Victor Louis the journalist.2

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D: I have heard of him but not in contact with me.

K: Have you a view or recommendation?

D: I have nothing to say in one way or another. I read in the press that he appears here. Did he approach you?

K: Through an intermediary.3

D: I don’t care one way or another. I have no connections with him.

K: Would it offend in Moscow?

D: I don’t know really.

K: It’s interesting to see what a character he is having heard about him but I do my business with you and not him. I have about 10 days to make up my mind. I don’t have to make a decision.

D: For the time being I will say I have nothing yes or no.

K: I haven’t to say anything definite.

D: In about 5 days if I hear nothing I will leave it up to you. Nothing to offer. I will give you a call Monday.4

K: I don’t have to make a decision on it. I told them to call on 2nd or 3rd. No decision until next week.

D: I know he comes here but only from the press. I will check and if any comment, I will call you. This I would like to pass on—there’s a man in your delegation in Helsinki, Mr. Shaw, who refers twice about our discussions between you and me. I use this occasion.

K: He shouldn’t do that.

D: I don’t want to make a [big deal?] of it. I received a telegram, not complaining. But commenting.

K: I will stop it immediately.5

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D: For my own information and not to tell you.

K: I will stop it. I am waiting on accidental war business6 to hear from you.

D: What’s your idea? It’s not quite clear.

K: Separate or part of the general agreement.

D: I remember that well. Do you have anything specific in mind?

K: If you want it separately, we will give instructions to the delegation.

D: No chance of thinking it over. [omission in transcript?] place? Or doesn’t it matter?

K: Agreement in Helsinki then Semenov invitation here is still existing but we are willing to think of another. We might sign other agreement in Moscow.

D: They will separate things. Their instructions beginning from Vienna are they are two separate issues.

K: They are prepared to do it separately.

D: Only question of signing so to speak because perhaps an extra consideration but it’s in Semenov’s instructions. I will check on it.

K: We don’t want to propose something embarrassing to you.

D: I understand.

K: Better if we are close to sign one in next few months too so our relations are—

D: Instructions say they are separate back to Vienna session. I will check and tell you.

K: I will let you know in next week about Foundry which has come to me for a decision.7 Before the end of the week or next Monday.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 10, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. According to Jerrold Schecter, then Moscow bureau chief for Time magazine, Victor Louis, Moscow correspondent for the London Evening News, “cooperated closely with the KGB to carry out assignments but he was not a full-time staff officer with rank and salary. He was a unique, provocative, and protected freelancer, permitted to keep his earnings as a foreign correspondent and deal maker so long as he fulfilled his KGB assignments.” See Jerrold and Leona Schecter, Sacred Secrets, pp. 232–233.
  3. Several minutes before he called Dobrynin, Kissinger received a telephone call from Lucy Jarvis, a television producer for news and public affairs at the National Broadcasting Company, who relayed Louis’s request to see Kissinger. Louis had arranged in 1967 for Jarvis to produce a television film entitled “Khrushchev in Exile.” (Schecter and Schecter, Sacred Secrets, p. 230) After agreeing to an appointment in early August, Kissinger and Jarvis discussed further arrangements, including approval of Louis’ visa, which Jarvis thought might be invalid outside New York. Kissinger thought otherwise, but added: “Perhaps I can fix it without throwing the State Department in an uproar.” Kissinger also noted that the meeting should be considered “off the record.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 10, Chronological File)
  4. August 2.
  5. Kissinger instructed Smith accordingly in a backchannel message the same day. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, SALT, 1971)
  6. See footnote 3, Document 290.
  7. An undated memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon on the project—presumably signed before Kissinger’s meeting with Dobrynin on July 29 (see Document 303)—is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume IV, Foreign Assistance, International Development, Trade Policies, 1969–1972, Document 343.