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

[Omitted here is discussion of the Middle East, including a coup in Syria, and a Congressional amendment to restrict funding for combat troops in Laos and Thailand.]

[K:] I had a talk with Dobrynin this morning and told him about the tender.2 He said he would report to Moscow.

P: Did he know it was there?

[Page 149]

K: He said, ‘Do you take it seriously or are you making an issue?’ I said we are taking it seriously. They are trying to kick us a little. It’s not in its former position. They have it way in a corner of the harbor—on the Cuban side of the harbor. It’s not where the installation is. It’s a salami tactic where they always test you.

P: Okay.

[Omitted here is discussion of the Vietnam war, including military operations in Laos and Cambodia and political opposition in the United States.]

P: We won’t worry about it. We’ll get the economy moving. I think it will be a shocker when we come on with the Summit. Suck them along on U.S./Soviet relations, and we’ll then surprise them.

K: On the Soviet/American side, there is something you could do for them. It’s a complicated thing. We have held a spy—we want it for legal precedent.3 Dobrynin has asked me about it. He said State and the Attorney General haven’t been able to do anything. I have worked out with Mitchell that the case would be kept in the courts and the guy can be released to Dobrynin, and this would get us rolling to the Summit.

P: We can reconsider in view of their action in Cuba and Jordan. We can reconsider that gear thing.4 Would this be in exchange for the Generals?5

K: No, I would hold it until close to the Summit announcement. Put another week or two between release of the spy and the Generals. It would be a sign of good will on your part. We have made our point by holding him for 7 years. Mitchell is willing to go along if you are.

P: Okay, do it.

K: All right, Mr. President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 7, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 41.
  3. Igov Ivanov. See Document 33.
  4. Reference is to the application by Gleason Works of Rochester, New York, to export gear-making equipment to the Soviet Union. On September 28, Kissinger informed Secretary of Commerce Stans of the President’s decision to refuse Gleason’s application. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 402, Subject Files, Trade, Vol. IV [2 of 2]) Stans urged Nixon to reconsider on November 19, both by memorandum and in a meeting, but without success. The memorandum is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume IV, Foreign Assistance, International Development, Trade Policies, 1969–1972, Document 320.
  5. See Document 38.