348. Memorandum of Conversation1

    • Anatoli Dobrynin
    • Henry A. Kissinger

The meeting took place at my request so that I could inform Dobrynin of my forthcoming interim trip to China.

Dobrynin began the conversation by saying that at the meeting with me, Gromyko had been the most open that he had ever seen him be. Dobrynin did not mind telling me that Gromyko had reported to Moscow that I was a man well worth doing business with. While, of course, the Soviet Union did form its foreign policy on an objective basis, these personal impressions carried an enormous amount of weight. He was certain that Gromyko would report in this sense to Brezhnev today.

Dobrynin then asked me when we could begin talking about the Middle East. I replied that we might have a talk towards the end of next week in a very preliminary way. Dobrynin said he would be ready.

I then turned to Vietnam, and asked Dobrynin whether I had been sufficiently clear to Gromyko about the fact that a settlement this year was really the last chance for the negotiations; after that we would have to go unilaterally. Dobrynin said I had made that point, though they had not put it in their report in quite a “that’s an ultimatum” way.

Dobrynin then remarked that Gromyko had been most impressed by my global approach and by my tendency to see things in the large. He said when Gromyko had talked to Secretary Rogers, the Secretary would always talk about specific tactical issues, never about global problems.

I then handed Dobrynin the China trip announcement,2 saying that this would be released at 10:00 a.m. the next day in Washington. [Page 1090] Dobrynin said that he found this very interesting; it was diplomacy on a grand scale. It was the sort of thing that Kennedy always wanted to do but never quite brought off. He asked me what we would discuss, and I said that the subjects would concern mostly technical arrangements and some preliminary talk about agenda. I wanted his government to understand that it would be conducted in the spirit which I had described to Gromyko as characterizing U.S.-Soviet relations, that is, from a global perspective. I also said that I would meet Dobrynin after my trip and give him a rough rundown. Dobrynin played it very cool and said that this was the proper way to proceed.

Dobrynin remarked that the Soviet Union was very eager to start the trade negotiations that Gromyko had mentioned to the President. I said we had not yet decided whether to send Secretary Stans or Peter Peterson, but in any event we would send somebody with a very wide charter and with a constructive attitude. I was not clear, however, what the Soviet Union was prepared to discuss. Dobrynin said the Soviet Union was prepared to discuss all the issues, that is, long-range economic policy including possibly Most-Favored-Nation status, and it was prepared to settle some of the outstanding American claims including some going back to World War II. I said we would be in touch with the Soviet Union by the end of October.

Dobrynin then raised the subject of a possible trip by me to Moscow. He said that it wasn’t enough to come secretly; we would have to have an announcement prior to my trip that would totally confuse the press, otherwise they wouldn’t be any fun. I said that we had better pick something new. Dobrynin said, “At any rate, it is an intriguing idea.”

After offering some more effusive comments about the excellent state of U.S.-Soviet relations, including the observation that prospects for improvement had never been greater, Dobrynin parted. We made a date for dinner on October 14th at 8:30 p.m., at the Soviet Embassy.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7 [part 1]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Map Room at the White House. According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, the meeting lasted until 3:37. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)
  2. The text of the joint announcement is as follows: “The Government of the Peoples Republic of China and the Government of the United States of America have agreed that Dr. Kissinger will visit Peking in the latter part of October for talks with the Chinese Government to make concrete arrangements for President Nixon’s to China.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 86, Country Files, Far East, US China Policy, 1969–72)