351. Memorandum of Conversation1

    • Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
    • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger

The conversation took place at my request. After some initial pleas-antries (during which Dobrynin told me that while I had a staff of 45, he only really worked with eight), I turned to the subject at hand.

Summit Announcement

First of all, I said, I wanted him to know that the President would start his briefing on the Summit announcement at 11:30 on Tuesday morning, but that the release is 12:00 Washington time just as it was agreed. Dobrynin said that this would cause no problem for him and that it was courteous of me to say so.

India and Pakistan

I then reinforced the President’s comments about the India–Pakistan situation. I said that we had recently sent cables to both India and Pakistan in order to urge restraint on them.2 It was our information that the Indians were going to infiltrate 40,000 guerrillas into Pakistan and at the same time keep the army right at the frontier, in order to force a deployment of the Pakistan army and prevent it from suppressing the guerrillas. I wanted Dobrynin to know that the President attached the most urgent importance to the prevention of an India–Pakistan war, and was hoping that the Soviet Union would act in the same way. Dobrynin said that he could assure me that the Soviet Union had already sent démarches to both sides, but that the Indians were getting extremely difficult. I said to Dobrynin that if the [Page 1097] Soviet Union ever could think of a joint step, we would be prepared to undertake it and in a manner that would not take advantage of the Soviet Union’s special sensitivities in the sub-continent.

Dobrynin said that I probably noticed Gromyko’s conciliatory conversation with Beam,3 but that he would make a special point of it again.

Middle East

I then turned to the Middle East. I told Dobrynin that I would talk to him fully about it on the 14th, but in the meantime it was important that each side understood each other. I had talked to Rabin in order to see whether I could generate an Israeli request to enter the negotiations, and secondly I had also talked to Riad.4 (I did this in case the Soviet Union picked it up from other intelligence channels or from Riad himself.) Dobrynin said that that seemed to him a very clever way of proceeding.

I said that at the same time there might be some proposals made from outside in New York that were considered by our officials there as the implementation of existing authority—specifically, I understood that there was an idea for secret talks between Egyptians and Israelis under Sisco’s aegis.5 This was not our reply to Brezhnev’s message as transmitted by Gromyko, but should be considered an extension of the existing policy. We wanted Brezhnev to understand this. Dobrynin said he was very grateful because it would almost certainly have been misunderstood in Moscow and have had very unfortunate consequences. He would send off an urgent cable.

Dobrynin asked me whether I thought these negotiations would succeed. I replied that while I hoped that they would succeed, I saw nothing that could be put forward different from what already existed, and therefore I was afraid they would deadlock. Dobrynin said that this was his view also. On the other hand, he said, it was not easy for the Soviet Union to urge its allies not to negotiate, and he said that a deadlocked negotiation might have the advantage that both sides [Page 1098] might then be ready for great-power intervention. I told Dobrynin that as long as we understood each other, it didn’t make a great deal of difference what would happen in the meantime. Dobrynin said that he could tell me confidentially that Gromyko had urged the Arabs not to raise the Middle East at the General Assembly, but the Arabs proved adamant and the Soviet Union would have no choice but to support them, though they would try to do it in as low-key a way as possible.

I repeated that Dobrynin had to understand that we had not yet made a final decision whether the White House should engage in the negotiations directly, but at least we wanted to keep the option open and we would examine it in good faith. Dobrynin said that in his recollection relations had never been better. For the first time, there was confidence in the Soviet leadership that here was an Administration with which they could deal. I thanked him.6

Dobrynin made some comments about how impressed the Chilean Foreign Minister had been by my conversation with him,7 and the meeting then broke up. There was an exchange of pleasantries.

  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.
  2. Reference is to telegram Tosec 100 to Islamabad, New Delhi, Moscow, and other posts, October 8. The Washington Special Actions Group issued instructions for the telegram—including asking the Soviets to “appeal to the Indians for restraint”—on October 7. During the meeting, Kissinger asked: “When he was here last week, Gromyko claimed that the Russians are restraining the Indians. Are they doing this?” Helms and Johnson assured Kissinger that the available evidence supported Gromyko’s claim. Kissinger also asked Johnson to establish an inter-agency working group to explore how the United States and Soviet Union might cooperate to avoid hostilities between India and Pakistan.” The minutes of the meeting and the telegram are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971, Documents 159 and 160.
  3. In accordance with his instructions, Beam met Gromyko on October 8 to express concern over the situation in South Asia. Beam subsequently reported that Gromyko “appreciated need for US and Soviet Union to work in same direction of averting conflict, said Soviet Union wishes to do utmost to this end, and stated he will see what steps can be taken ‘under present conditions.’” (Telegram 7529 from Moscow, October 8; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 570, Indo-Pak War, South Asia, October 1-October 24, 1971) The telegram is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971, Document 163.
  4. Kissinger met Rabin on October 2 at 11:37 a.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) No record of his meeting with Riad has been found.
  5. See Document 349.
  6. Kissinger called Haldeman, who was at Camp David with the President, at 2:55 p.m. and reported: “I just wanted to tell you what I have done. I talked to Dobrynin. If I can get control of the cable, I think I can slow it down—until they see what the President wants.” When Haldeman asked how he could control Rogers’ initiative on the Middle East, Kissinger replied: “I have told Sisco the next time a cable goes out that has not been cleared with us someone will go into the President’s office with me. He says Rogers has a back door into the President’s office.” “I am telling you,” Kissinger added, “you are going to get into a first class crisis with me. I am not going to let this happen.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 11, Chronological File)
  7. Almeyda Medina. According to his Record of Schedule, Kissinger departed the office at 8:30 p.m. on October 6 to go to the “Chilean Ambassador’s for Cocktails.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)