323. Editorial Note
After reaching an agreement on Berlin, the White House and the Kremlin used the confidential channel to negotiate an announcement of the Moscow summit. On August 30, 1971, Oleg Sokolov, First Secretary at the Soviet Embassy, delivered separate notes on SALT and the summit to Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Al Haig at the White House. The Soviet note on SALT offered a “compromise solution,” and included the following provision: “ABM systems in the Soviet Union and the United States would be limited to the defense of their capitals. Beside that, the United States would retain ABM installations on one of the ICBM bases, where their construction has begun, while the Soviet Union would have the right to deploy ABM installations for the defense of an equal number of ICBM silos.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, President’s Trip Files, Box 492, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7 [part 2]) The full text of the note is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, Document 193. The text of the Soviet note on the summit—revising the text that Kissinger gave Dobrynin on August 17 (see footnote 4, Document 317)—reads:[Page 970]
“The leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union in their exchanges during the past year have agreed that a meeting between them would be desirable once sufficient progress had been made in negotiations at lower levels. In light of the recent advances in bilateral and multilateral negotiations involving the two countries, now it has been agreed upon that President Nixon will visit Moscow in the latter part of May 1972.
“At this meeting, the U.S. and Soviet leaders will review all major issues with a view towards further improving their bilateral relations and enhancing the prospects for world peace.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, President’s Trip Files, Box 492, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7 [part 2])
Before the two notes were delivered in Washington, Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin called Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger in San Clemente at 1:50 p.m. (PDT). After a brief exchange of pleasantries, Dobrynin began by raising the first Soviet note. Kissinger, however, quickly interrupted: “Let’s do the second first.” Dobrynin reported that the Soviet Government agreed to begin the summit in Moscow on May 22, 1972. The two men discussed when to release an announcement. Dobrynin thought the Kremlin would prefer to announce the summit after Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko met President Richard Nixon at the White House in late September. “This is my private thinking,” he added. “I don’t know whether it’s true.” When Dobrynin suggested October 10 as a possible date, Kissinger objected: “October 10 misses the news magazines. It’s best on a Wednesday or a Thursday.” Kissinger then complained about the Soviet text of the announcement:
“K: The only thing is when you say ‘it has been agreed upon’—this makes it look like the President asked to come.
“D: [omission in transcript]
“K: We’ll be delighted to leave out the sentence saying ‘President Nixon has accepted with pleasure’ if you want it. But I don’t think we will accept this proposal.
“D: What proposal?
“K: Your suggestion.
“D: Not as of now.
“K: You want to say ‘in light of recent advances … it has been agreed upon that President Nixon should visit Moscow in the latter part of May, 1972.’
“D: Or ‘will visit.’
“K: I understand what you are saying, but it is more normal that the host government indicate some generosity about …
“D: If you like better could say …[Page 971]
“K: It’s entirely up to you. I will have to talk to the President about it. I know we will suggest a different date than the 10th, but it would be just a few days on either side.”
Kissinger also raised another concern: the visit of Soviet President Podgorny to Hanoi in early October. “If he should be there and make a violent anti-American statement and if then a few days later we announce a visit,” Kissinger explained, “I don’t think that’s the best combination of circumstances.” When Kissinger asked about SALT, Dobrynin replied that the Soviet Government viewed their proposal on the number of ABM installations as a “gesture” toward an agreement:
“D: We are prepared to do it this way.
“K: You mean one missile installation?
“D: … at the same time.
“K: Then it would be two for one.
“D: No, two for two. One of your ICBMs; one of our ICBMs. Capital and Capital. Two sites from both sides.
“K: But if we chose not to defend our capital.
“D: Then one ABM …
“K: If we defend one of our ICBM complexes then whether or not we defend Washington you have the right to defend another ICBM complex?”
Rather than wait for an answer, Kissinger promised to call Dobrynin the next day to review such questions on SALT and the summit. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 27, Dobrynin File) No record has been found that Kissinger followed through on this promise.
Dobrynin, however, called Kissinger at 12:35 p.m. on September 2. “I received a telegram from Moscow asking me to come for consultations […],” he announced. “I am leaving tomorrow.” When Kissinger asked whether he wanted to “discuss in general where stand” before his departure, Dobrynin replied: “No, need to discuss only if you or President have something for me to tell in Moscow. I know where we stand. Also the point we discussed last time.” “On the point we discussed last time,” Kissinger explained, “I have to see the President again and I will have word for you before you leave.” (Ibid.) Kissinger called Dobrynin back the next morning:
“K: I talked to the President again and we have a suggestion for the text which is a compromise between our two versions. Our objection to your draft is that it was stated as if you had [omission in transcript—invited?] the President to Moscow.
“D: Oh come on, come on.
“K: If you can get away with something you will not avoid it. We propose: ‘In the light of recent advances … it has been agreed that [Page 972] such a meeting will take place in Moscow in the latter part of May 1972. President Nixon and the Soviet leaders will review all of the major issues.’
“D: I don’t understand.
“K: We are taking the statement I gave you, striking out the words ‘the United States and Soviet leaders.’
“D: And that’s all?
“D: What difference …
“K: You can have ‘at this meeting’ if you want it.
“D: But you think it is better this way?
“K: Don’t object to this way.
“K: Not ‘it has been agreed upon …’—that’s bad English. ‘It has been agreed that …’ The only reason we are mentioning names at this point is so it is clear who is going, because we haven’t mentioned the persons yet.
“D: Okay. I will send this back over to receive reply. And I have received answer saying they prefer the 12th. You mentioned the 12th. They understand [omission in transcript].
“K: Right, but how about the 7th?
“D: They didn’t give me any explanation. I said the President mentioned the 6th and 7th and as a last choice the 12th. They are prepared to take the third choice of the President.
“K: I will call you back before you leave.” (Ibid.)
Kissinger called Dobrynin again at 10:31 a.m. and reported: “I have talked with the President and we will accept [October] the 12th.” Although he was in “no hurry,” Kissinger commented that it would “make a good impression” if the two sides could agree on the text of the summit announcement as soon as possible. Dobrynin suggested that, in his absence, Soviet Minister Yuli Vorontsov could relay any messages from Moscow. After Dobrynin read the text of the announcement—which Kissinger confirmed was “exactly right”—the two men discussed the text of the American response on SALT:
“D: I agree with everything on the submarine business. As I explained to you it was my understanding even before communiqué but you may have a different point—
“K: You were [the] one who didn’t want to use launchers.
“D: No, the understanding was at this stage submarines would not be discussed. Even before text appeared it was at the first or second stage. On first stage I asked and they said not the base in this stage. It could be interpreted—you could be quite right.[Page 973]
“K: You have a point and we will take it into account when decision develops.
“D: I know. We raise this question because it’s understandable but on ABM it’s not the question.
“K: We will weigh it heavily when decision develops.
“D: They make their instructions.
“K: You have a point. It’s not unreasonable.
“D: Explain because it was of your—
“K: Let it go this way a little longer. It’s not a key point and we will keep it in mind between you and me.
“D: Not for decision now. On places we will keep going on. We make agreement little by little.
“K: Have a little rest and a good trip.” (Ibid.) The U.S. response is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, Document 194.
On September 7, Vorontsov called Kissinger and delivered the following message: “Dobrynin is in Moscow and Gromyko asked that I tell you that in Moscow they agreed on the text agreed on by you and Anatoly here. All details are considered settled. Actual clarity of the text we are talking about. The latest version of 9/3.” In order to avoid any “misunderstanding,” Kissinger replied that he would forward a copy of the announcement to the Soviet Embassy that afternoon. (Ibid.) The final text, which Haig sent by letter to Vorontsov on September 7, reads as follows:
“The leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union in their exchanges during the past year have agreed that a meeting between them would be desirable once sufficient progress had been made in negotiations at lower levels. In light of the recent advances in bilateral and multilateral negotiations involving the two countries, it has been agree that such a meeting will take place in Moscow in the latter part of May 1972.
“President Nixon and the Soviet leaders will review all major issues with a view towards further improving their bilateral relations and enhancing the prospects for world peace.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7 [part 1])