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

D: I have just received a telegram from Moscow and they have asked me rather urgently to come to Moscow for consultations—tomorrow or the day after. I’m checking now on what kind of planes can go. In this case [there will be a meeting on Monday].2

K: I just spent three hours with the President.3

D: Maybe you could give me it in writing.

K: I can’t discuss it on a call.

D: Maybe the points the same way as I gave them to you, through Mr. Young I could get them.

K: Can you put it off as late as Saturday?4 I am coming east tomorrow.

D: Tomorrow evening?

K: Yes, but I’m doing something in the evening which I cannot change. But I could see you first thing on Saturday morning.

D: I have to check on planes. My impression is there are none on Saturday.

K: When will you be back?

D: I don’t know—no specifics. Couldn’t you just give ideas in this kind of paper?

K: It’s not technically very easy from here. By the time I got it written …

D: I believe it very important.

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K: I believe it important too and I have a number of very concrete propositions to make to you.

D: Tomorrow not possible?

K: No.

D: American plane leaves at 7:00 from New York. Latest I could leave maybe 4:00 from Washington.

K: In other words, you are definitely leaving tomorrow?

D: As of now the only plane leaving is tomorrow.

K: Can’t you go by London or Paris?

D: It is difficult.

K: You are the best judge of that and you know what your instructions are and I don’t. But I personally believe … I am a little reluctant to put it in writing because it depends on a number of explanations. But I wanted to make very concrete proposal on how to proceed on the subject you made yesterday and another concrete proposal in another area. If our relationships are going to be part of your conversation, this will be not at all unuseful. But if I put it in writing it will have to be very carefully drafted because you will study every word of it.

D: I know our relationship will be part of the conversation.

K: I consider this conversation to be in the spirit of what we discussed on putting something into this channel.

D: So you think it would be worthwhile.

K: You will have to be the judge of that. This shows in at least two of the three points concrete steps and possible in the third. So if we could have an hour together on Saturday morning it would be quite useful.

D: I am sure this will be one of the subjects. In general what to do in the next few months.

K: In that case, you will want to wait for our discussion.

D: I will give you a call tomorrow.

K: Okay, I will arrive about 4:00, so I could see you about 6:00 or

I could see you on Saturday morning.

D: If I am staying Saturday morning I understand. Tomorrow morning I will call you. You will still be there?

K: No, I am leaving at 8:00 my time. What time will you know?

D: Around 10:00 this time.

K: I will leave my house at 10:30 your time.

D: By then I will know.

K: Okay, you call me any time from 9:30 Washington time on.

D: All right. I will call you tomorrow morning.

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K: And my own judgment is that this could be one of the more important conversations we have had.

D: All right. I will call you tomorrow morning.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 27, Dobrynin File. No classification marking. Dobrynin was in Washington; Kissinger was in San Clemente. All brackets are in the original.
  2. January 11.
  3. According to his Record of Schedule, Kissinger met the President from 10:10 to 11:55 a.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) No record of the meeting has been found. As Kissinger later recalled (although he did not date the conversation): “I recommended to Nixon that we return a positive reply which would insist on Soviet guarantees of access and a clearly defined legal status for West Berlin. And I proposed linking the Berlin negotiations to progress in SALT; SALT, in turn, we would make depend on Soviet willingness to freeze its offensive buildup. Nixon approved.” (Kissinger, White House Years, p. 802)
  4. January 9.
  5. Kissinger called Dobrynin back at 1:35 p.m. on January 7 and remarked: “I wanted to mention one thing on a semi-personal basis. I think it would be very hard to be understood by the President if you were pulled out in light of the communication of yesterday without waiting for an answer.” Dobrynin replied: “I understand and will check with Moscow.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 27, Dobrynin File)