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

K: Hello Mr. President. I have two matters.

[Omitted here is discussion of prisoners of war in Vietnam.]

[Page 241]

[K:] We are getting a lot of heat from Jewish groups about these people who were sentenced2 and we have urged Ron to say nothing.

P: Yes. That is right. I am for capital punishment for hijackers. I am glad to see the Jewish people raising Cain with the Russians. The idea of putting out a big public statement is like blowing into the wind.

K: And also whatever the trial, these are after all their own citizens.

P: That is right. They are not American citizens. They were not part of that Turkish group,3 were they?

K: No. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were framed but who are we to say that? I think we would irritate the Soviets if we said that now.

P: I think everyone should be tough on hijackers.

K: The report says it was a KGB trap of people who wanted to flee.

P: Tell your Jewish people we are looking into it.

K: We have shifted it to the State Department.

P: Give it to the same guy who handled the Lithuanian matter.4 I will get hold of Haldeman on the POW matter.

K: Thank you Mr. President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 8, Chronological File. No classification marking. Nixon was in Washington; Kissinger was in San Clemente.
  2. In June 1970, two Soviet Jews, Mark Dymshits and Edward Kuznetsov, failed in their attempt to emigrate to Israel by hijacking an Aeroflot flight from Leningrad to Helsinki. The Leningrad trial began on December 15 and ended on December 24 with the conviction of Dymshits and Kuznetsov, who were immediately sentenced to death. The fate of the defendants sparked widespread sympathy, most notably within the American Jewish community.
  3. See Document 10.
  4. The defector from Lithuania, Simas Kudirka. See Document 57.