311. Memorandum of Conversation1

    • Henry A. Kissinger
    • Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin

I saw Dobrynin at my request in order to hand him a letter from the President to Soviet Party Secretary Brezhnev (attached).2 The letter had been triggered by a Dobrynin comment that such a gesture would be helpful.3 Dobrynin read the letter and said he thought it was extremely useful.


Dobrynin wondered, though, whether the absence of a reference to a Summit in the letter meant that we were no longer interested in it. I told him no, but we thought that the next move was the Soviet Union’s. Dobrynin said he could tell me in confidence that the issue was under very active consideration in Moscow and that a formal suggestion would be made within the next two weeks; he just wanted to make sure that this letter would not be misconstrued as a rejection in principle. I said no, we stood by everything that had been said previously.

Middle East

Dobrynin then asked what the reference to the talks on the Middle East in the President’s press conference of August 4 meant.4 I said it was just a general reference to our readiness and it had no concrete significance.


Dobrynin then turned to Indochina. He said he had seen a report from Hanoi about my last meeting.5 I asked him what the impression [Page 922] was. He said that Hanoi had told Moscow that the chief obstacle was our refusal to set a deadline and our desire to keep military advisers behind. I asked Dobrynin about the political issue. He said that Hanoi did not mention it in its last report.

Dobrynin said that his impression was that negotiations were coming very close, and within the framework of what I had said to him in January. I then told him that if Moscow really wanted to improve relations with us this presented a unique opportunity. If we were that close to a settlement, here might be an opportunity for official Soviet intervention on a delicate basis. Dobrynin said he would pass this on to Moscow.


Dobrynin came back to the Summit issue and said he wanted to make sure that we would be receptive to a Soviet proposal. I said yes, but it would have to be after the Peking summit and the announcement would be only after we had fixed a Moscow date.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7 [part 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Lord and Rodman submitted a draft of this memorandum and another summarizing its “highlights” for the President to Kissinger on August 9. Kissinger forwarded both to Nixon two days later. The meeting was held in the Map Room at the White House. According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, the meeting lasted from 5:13 to 5:50 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)
  2. See Document 309.
  3. Kissinger suggested the letter during a telephone conversation with Dobrynin on July 30. See Document 305.
  4. See Document 308.
  5. Reference is to Kissinger’s meeting with Le Duc Tho in Paris on July 26. See footnote 2, Document 295.