326. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Huang Chen, PRC Ambassador to France
- Tsao Kuei Sheng, First Secretary of PRC Embassy
- Wei Tung, Secretary to the PRC Ambassador
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Major General Vernon Walters, Defense Attaché, U.S. Embassy, Paris
- Winston Lord, NSC Staff
[Omitted here are opening pleasantries and discussion of arrangements for Kissinger’s upcoming trip to China.]
Dr. Kissinger: There are a number of things that I would like to cover concerning my visit.
We will give you an answer on the announcement of the visit and the text within a few days.
I have always been very honest and meticulous with the Prime Minister and therefore I want to inform you of what may happen. As I told you last time, we are constantly receiving Soviet approaches now about this or that negotiation, and we have always informed you immediately. We do not inform them of our conversations with you. And the Prime Minister should know that they do not know from our sources that I see you and what I discuss with you. One reason is that no American sources know I am talking to you except the President. (Ambassador Huang laughs.)
As I told the Prime Minister and as I told you on August 16,2 the Soviet Union has made several proposals to us about a possible visit to the Soviet Union. We have told them that we would not visit the Soviet Union until after we have visited the People’s Republic of China. However, we expect that Foreign Minister Gromyko, who is arriving in the United States on September 19, will bring a formal invitation. Since we have already delayed our answer for three months, it would be difficult to delay an answer again because they have met all our [Page 983] conditions regarding outstanding negotiations. And to be quite honest with you, the reason we had proposed September 21 or September 22 for the announcement was so that whatever we and you announced would not appear as a reaction to the visit of the Foreign Minister.
Gromyko comes to the United Nations, not to the United States, but it is customary on each visit to the United States that he visit the President. (There followed some discussion in Chinese among the Chinese.)
Ambassador Huang: That means you propose to announce the visit on the 21st?
Dr. Kissinger: You remember, on September 1,General Walters proposed that we announce my visit to China on September 21.3 We chose that date—we didn’t know then—because it has been normal for Gromyko to come to the United Nations at that time. He is not coming at our invitation; it is normal. It is also normal when he comes to the UN that he visits the President. Frankly, we therefore wanted to announce my visit to China before we talked to Gromyko. We didn’t wish to say this to you because we didn’t wish to embarrass or exercise pressure on you. Since then we have been told of his visit. He arrives September 19. He will probably see the President on September 29, which is the latest possible date. It is not a visit to America. It is a visit to the United Nations.
Ambassador Huang: If in your view we announce you’re going to China on the 21st, what date do you expect to go to China?
Dr. Kissinger: The one we discussed, October 20.
General Walters: He was explaining only why we proposed the 21st (for the announcement).
Dr. Kissinger: The arrival date is no problem for me. Or the 22nd for the announcement.
Ambassador Huang: We will await your answer.[Page 984]
Dr. Kissinger: You can report to the Prime Minister that the arrival date of October 20 is acceptable. The announcement text I want to check in Washington and it is probably acceptable, but I wanted you to know of the other problem.
Ambassador Huang: On the question of the date of the announcement you will let us know through General Walters.4
Dr. Kissinger: And if you have any different views, you will let us know.
Ambassador Huang: We will let you know.
Dr. Kissinger: I just wanted to make sure you knew why, and if anything important happens between Gromyko and the President which bears on the question of the President’s visit to Moscow, I’ll let you know as soon as possible. But it will be in no case before the President’s visit to China.
[Omitted here is discussion of “practical questions” related to Kissinger’s upcoming trip.]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, China Exchanges, July–October 20, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Although no drafting information appears on the memorandum, Lord forwarded a draft to Kissinger on September 15; Kissinger initialed his approval. The full text of the memorandum of conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–13, Documents on China, 1969–1972, Document 19.↩
- See Document 316.↩
- In a September 1 memorandum, Walters briefed Haig on his meeting that morning at the Chinese Embassy in Paris. During the meeting, Walters presented an oral note on two upcoming events: signature of the Accidental War Agreement and Kissinger’s second trip to China. “Ambassador Huang Chen then asked me,” he reported, “whether my Soviet colleagues had ever asked me about Sino-American relations. I answered truthfully that they never had. He then asked whether the Soviets knew about Dr. Kissinger’s trips in secrecy to Paris. I replied that I did not know for sure, but that experience with the Russians convinced me that they were very intelligent but not all 2 meters tall. He roared with laughter and slapped me on the back.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, China Exchanges, July–October 20, 1971) The full text of the memorandum is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–13, Documents on China, 1969–1972, Document 22.↩
- During a meeting on September 21, Walters informed Huang that “the 22nd and 23rd of September were overtaken by time but that 5, 6, or 7 October were acceptable” for announcement of Kissinger’s trip to China. According to Walters, “They nodded.” (Memorandum for the Record; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, China Exchanges, July–October 20, 1971)↩