130. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

WTE 0004. 1. President’s instructions2 are extremely useful. You can assure the President that I will not fall into the summit trap and that I am aware of our principal concern. I have a caveat on only one point. I do not think it is a good idea to have a statement which defers Vietnam to the summit agenda.

We now have maximum momentum and Hanoi for the first time in the war is backing off. Also, the summit is one of our best bargaining counters. We therefore must get some concrete results now, such as a clear reduction of violence and a withdrawal of NVA forces. I hope the President lets me hold out for this.

2. Was greeted at the airport by First Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov who took me to the State Guest House similar to Peking’s. Gromyko called on me for one hour to settle the program. Atmosphere [Page 464] so far is effusive, with endless protestations of eagerness to have summit and willingness to settle all issues. Apparently Brezhnev will conduct all the discussions, having cancelled his weekend plans. Gromyko said they have some “concrete considerations” regarding Vietnam. They seem eager to have me stay through Monday but this will of course depend on first substantive meeting and above all on Vietnam prospects.

3. Also please keep me informed of South Asia developments.3 I was told subject may come up. (We have briefing book here.)4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Moscow Trip Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. No time of transmission or receipt appears on the telegram. Haig summarized the message in an April 20 memorandum to the President. (Ibid., White House Special Files, President’s Personal Files, Box 74, President’s Speech File, April 1972 Kissinger Trip to Moscow) This and subsequent messages from Kissinger were transmitted via the Presidential airplane at the airport outside Moscow to the White House Situation Room. For his account of the message, and of communications for his trip, see Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 1137, 1154–1155.
  2. Document 127.
  3. The next morning, Haig forwarded to Kissinger a memorandum from Saunders on the Soviet Union and South Asia. In his covering message Haig explained that he told Saunders, evidently to conceal Kissinger’s trip to Moscow, “that the President wanted to know on a preliminary basis how he should handle this issue at the summit.” (Message Sitto 17 from Haig to Kissinger; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Moscow Trip Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File) Saunders argued that “the principle objective in US-Soviet talks on South Asia should be to try to get the Soviets to acknowledge explicitly a common interest and some responsibility for stability in South Asia and a commitment to it” and mentioned four specific steps: 1) enlisting Soviet support for “an early peace agreement on reasonable terms”; 2) informing the Soviets that long-term stability in South Asia required getting “a grip on the arms race”; 3) securing Soviet assistance for Bangladesh—”if for no other reason than to put them a bit on the defensive”; and 4) warning the Soviets that any effort to “establish military bases of its own in South Asia would require a U.S. response.” (Memorandum from Saunders to Kissinger, April 20; ibid.)
  4. Not further identified.