354. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1

K: Anatoliy, we seem to be having some problem with leaks out of your Foreign Office.2 Your Chargé called on the Japanese and told about the announcement tomorrow, and they are asking us.

D: Our Chargé d’Affaires? I don’t know about it.

K: I haven’t told the President—he will climb walls. With regard to our understanding, we have not told anybody.

D: Our Chargé d’Affaires told it to whom?

K: To the Japanese Foreign Office.

D: I don’t know anything about that.

K: That the announcement would be at noon tomorrow.

D: Officially?

K: Apparently. Their Ambassador asked us whether it was true. It creates two problems: (1) we haven’t told the Japanese yet because we were to tell them two hours before.

D: I don’t know anything about it. I can check it with Moscow and …

K: If you tell anything to the Japanese Foreign Office, you might as well call in the press and tell them. Just for your information, this is going to drive the President absolutely wild. He wanted to make it himself.

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D: I don’t know anything about it. It’s news to me. I can check with Moscow.

K: Why don’t you? It would help if it leaks, I can tell the President how it happened.

D: I won’t be able to get an answer until tomorrow. There was no intention for us to make a leakage in Japan. What is the purpose?

K: It embarrasses us with the Japanese because it means they heard it from you before us. We are their allies.

D: This was not the case; how it happened I don’t know.

K: Okay.

D: I will check with them. I just received confirmation that everything is all right for 12:00 here and 7:00 in Moscow.

K: I think it will leak. We have never yet told the Japanese anything that didn’t leak.

D: All right.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 27, Dobrynin File. No classification marking.
  2. U. Alexis Johnson called Kissinger at 6:50 p.m. and reported: “Your Russian friends have done it to us now—when they do something wrong, they are your friends. [Japanese Ambassador] Ushiba just called and said, ‘Is it true the President is going to make a visit to Moscow the latter part of May?’ The Soviet Embassy in Tokyo told them an announcement would be made tomorrow.” Kissinger told Johnson that he would call Dobrynin “right away.” (Ibid., Box 11, Chronological File)
  3. During a telephone conversation at 7:05 p.m., Kissinger told Johnson that Dobrynin “says he doesn’t know anything about it and he can’t believe it.” “It’s a cheap shot,” Kissinger complained. “These sons-of bitches—that’s the difference between them and the Chinese. They gain a nickel and lose a million dollars worth of goodwill.” (Ibid.) Haig then called Dobrynin at 7:10 and reported: “I am calling because Mr. Kissinger is over with the President now. He said to tell you we intend to hold this release time firm. If we get some inquiries, we will have no comment and we would hope you would be able to do the same. You make a nickel and lose $1,000.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 998, Alexander M. Haig Chronological Files, Haig Telcons, 1971 [1 of 2]) No evidence has been found that Kissinger was, in fact, “over with the President” that evening. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76, Record of Schedule)