146. Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) in Moscow1

Sitto 32. Have received 0092 and discussed with President who is very pleased with progress you have made. He asked that I pass the following to you: He hopes that announcement you work out with Gromyko will explicitly mention that Vietnam was discussed if at all possible. If not, it is then essential that the implication that Vietnam [Page 560]was discussed is clear. He then added that he hoped that it will be mentioned that Vietnam will be top priority item on Soviet agenda. I told him that you had already raised doubts about the desirability of the latter and he understands your view so you can certainly feel free to play that one in accordance with your own judgement.

Without the benefit of having read your detailed report of today’s discussion, the President also wishes that you make clear to the Soviets before departing that there will be no letup in U.S. air operations south of twenty degrees without a reciprocal deescalation by NVA forces in SVN from this point on. He also hopes that you can make clear to the Soviets that unless May 2 secret meeting results in conclusive progress toward settlement, U.S. will reserve the right among other things to renew strikes in the Hanoi–Haiphong area.

The President would also wish to reserve on the decision as to whether he or Ziegler should make noon announcement, depending on your assessment of the outcome of the talks and the text of the announcement which you and Gromyko arrive at.3

Finally, the President was disturbed by news stories to the effect that the Soviets had now downgraded his visit to summit status rather than State and summit status and has asked that you complain about these stories to Gromyko.4 He also told me that Soviets are pressuring Chapin to have President go to Leningrad on Sunday, not Saturday, and he has instructed Chapin to hold firm for Leningrad trip on Saturday because he wishes to be in Moscow on Sunday. He has also instructed Chapin to hold firm on the issue of using his own plane and his own car because of communications. He has, however, agreed to ride in the Soviet automobile if there is a State occasion involved. He has pointed out to Chapin that the China precedent does not apply in this instance and that he found that communications were unsatisfactory in China and that he cannot accept a similar arrangement during the Soviet trip.5

I thought you should know the foregoing in case Dobrynin or Gromyko raise these issues with you. As you can see from the foregoing, the President remains very strong both on the Vietnam issue and his attitude vis-à-vis the Soviets. I am passing this on to you so that you will be fully aware of climate here and not in an effort to badger you or to make your most difficult tasks more so.

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We have just received a report that a Soviet civil IL–18 is scheduled to depart Moscow on April 23 at 1025Z enroute to possibly Hanoi.

The aircraft has in the past been associated with VIP movements.

Warm regards.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Moscow Trip Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File [2 of 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. See Document 145.
  3. For Kissinger’s response on this point, see footnote 3, Document 149.
  4. See Document 145.
  5. See Document 145.
  6. A copy of the report is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Moscow Trip Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File [1 of 2].