347. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is discussion of economic issues, including textile negotiations with Japan.]

P: Let’s assume we get action from the Russians on the M.E. Remember how they screamed because I laid it into them?

K: You made it come true. Sidey had breakfast with me today and he said we should be embarrassed about what we [the press?] did to the President on Cambodia. Cambodia saved it. And next year Laos will be the same.

[Omission in transcript: missing page 2 of original.]

K: He [Rogers] has told Beam2 and Hillenbrand that you have turned over the European Security Conference to him and he has the same carte blanche as on the M.E. It could screw up NATO.

[Page 1085]

P: It could. We have to give him things to do. I said we do not want the conference. If anything to be done let me do it directly and I would like Beam and Hillenbrand out.

K: It’s awfully high level.

P: But he will have these decisions. They want this conference and we have to stiff arm on this.

K: I would like to see it drag out before the summit. We can’t hold out after summit. Let it come out of the summit as something you did.

P: Rogers is not for the conference.

K: I wouldn’t bet on it.

P: That’s what he said.

K: What he wants is an operation on something.

P: Let’s play a double track game on this. We have settled with Gromyko and Dobrynin has word to handle it through channels and also preparations for the summit. You have to give State things to do. On the summit and China thing have them prepare papers for me. I would like positions we should take and items that are coming up.

K: I discussed that on China with Alex Johnson.3

P: Over a period of time, best brains. Gives them something exciting to do. We have to plan summit and not let them do a thing. But let them do papers.

K: And work on trade, travel and things they love.

P: We have to sit down before Russia and China and determine what we want from both and what they want and what we can do. While it didn’t come up I bet one thing the Russians will want is what they did at the opera house in Vienna. Interesting they mentioned to you—

K: It was a very profound remark.

P: He wanted to hear it but not raise it. On the security conference I would let them do it. It’s high level but you can’t be in a position where they will do nothing.

K: I will not get in the way.

P: On the other hand, I want Dobrynin to understand that he can talk with Rogers but I will make the decisions.

K: I will get out a directive for an interdepartmental study and he can draw on that.4

[Page 1086]

P: And Laird on it too.

K: What to talk about. No good agenda now. Gromyko mentioned to me that Rogers talked to him.5 Talk technical issues at State and policies with the President.

P: Let Bill think he is doing something at that level. Remind him of the fact that the President wants him to do it because we do not want to get sucked into it.

K: In a dilatory way.

P: Plenty of time to do it and consult with allies. Like SALT.

K: And break it at the summit if you want to.

P: The European security conference—three things the Russians want. European Security Conference, M.E., trade, and guarantees against China. 4 things. They must pay a price and nothing given before they know what we want. We raised VN and Pakistan with them. So what’s in it for us? We can’t give them a summit and give them 4 things.

K: On the M.E., I will drag it out to see how they behave on VN.

P: Be sure with regard to European Security Conference that Rogers is aware we are sending out a directive.

K: It’s normal. We do it for every visit. To every agency.

P: Explain to him so he doesn’t think we are trying to undercut his position.

K: He doesn’t have a position.

P: But he said he wanted to talk about it. So say it’s an internal study.

K: It doesn’t mean we would do the talking here. We have this on MBFR. We are not talking out of the WH. Irwin doing next week in Europe. He talks for State.

P: No public statement about this. We have not taken a position for or against conference. Decide at a later time when we have a decision. No public decision.

K: Important to do it dilatorily because it could wreck NATO.

P: I asked Bill why Russians wanted it. Because it will do in the NATO. He knew it. That’s what I meant when I said countries for it.

K: Walters was invited to lunch by the Chinese today.6 Never warmer and went out of their way to make laudatory references to you. [Page 1087] I sent them a message last week on the flap on UN and said you are holding together the left wing and right wing.

P: You haven’t informed them of the announcement?

K: We will tell them a week from today. We told them today an invitation received. I told them in August that as soon as Berlin agreement there will be an invitation.7

P: Doing it in steps.

K: Next Fri. or Sat.8

P: Also say we wouldn’t accept theirs before [omission in transcript].

K: I told them and said it again today. Very meticulous with them.

P: I want something very well prepared in your office or by Price. Gromyko mentioned another letter.

K: No, the one you have seen.9

P: I thought I would reply to that. He said Brezhnev would like to hear about matters brought up here. He would like a letter on a private basis on the conference with Gromyko and say as much as we can on high level that it’s important our two countries hold the key and [omission in transcript] we have to be responsible. Critical time. Talked in that spirit and we will both talk that way and an historical significance like WWII alliance.

K: I told Gromyko we would have something in two weeks.

P: Something marked personal so we have Nixon/Brezhnev correspondence for the administration. I think that’s essential.

K: I hope you have decent weather.

P: It’s great. We are trying to get out our problems on domestic thing right now. I told Bob I want Ehrlichman to announce the designation of Whittier and call it the Institute of World Peace or something like that. About the 15th of Nov. It would be a good touch.

K: Not Irvine?

P: The library will be in the vicinity of Irvine but this at Whittier. Quakers and all that yakkity-yak. When you consider what we have done and what we may do even if we get 2/3 of it nothing before like this done. On VN the Senate passes resolutions on VN. We will do that and save those miserable and change the whole thing on the M.E. and V.N. and Berlin.

[Page 1088]

K: The M.E. is cool. We can string them on something. We will settle that and have a SALT agreement. This is going to go down as the outstanding period of foreign policy.

P: Amazing it can have such impact on the peace of the world. [omission in transcript] was weaker then it has been.

K: No domestic support.

P: Or in the Senate.

K: With the whole establishment screaming at us.

P: That would be hammered home. Lack of support.

K: I think we will crack VN this year.

P: I know you do. It will crack or we will crack them.

K: After China trip we have to go against your enemies. Russians can’t foul you up. Summit and then if we go the M.E. route they need you to follow it out. That’s why [omission in transcript].

P: [omission in transcript]

K: And European Security conference in such shape that only you can carry through.

P: Keep European friends and not let them push us.

K: We have always gained when dilatory.

P: They have gained too.

K: I think Brezhnev will really put on a reception for you. It’s in his own self-interest.

P: It will be interesting. The way you left VN thing they are supposed to carry a message to them. When delivered to them?

K: A week from yesterday. Walters will ask for an appointment Monday.

P: And China announced Tues.

K: Delivered on Friday and ask for meeting Nov. 2 in Paris for their reply.

[Omitted here is further discussion of Vietnam.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 11, Chronological File. No classification marking. Nixon was in Key Biscayne; Kissinger was in Washington. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. Kissinger met Beam on October 1 from 6:10 to 6:22 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76, Record of Schedule) No record of the conversation has been found.
  3. Kissinger met Johnson on October 1 from 2:43 to 4:28 p.m. (Ibid.) No record of the conversation has been found.
  4. On October 2, Kissinger issued NSSM 138 to the agencies for a study on the prospects of a European Security Conference. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–187, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 138) Printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIX, European Security, Document 74.
  5. See Document 345.
  6. On October 2, Walters gave his Chinese interlocutors in Paris a “brief report” on Nixon’s recent meeting with Gromyko. As Walters later recalled: “I told the Ambassador [Huang Chen] that the Soviets had invited President Nixon to go to Moscow, that he had neither accepted nor refused yet and that we would keep the Chinese informed.” (Walters, Silent Missions, p. 538) Kissinger’s instructions for and Walters’s record of the meeting are published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–13, Documents on China, 1969–1972, Documents 27 and 29.
  7. See Document 316.
  8. October 8 or 9.
  9. Document 324.