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

Sitto 39. 1. Thank you for your 012 and 0132 essence of which have been discussed with the President.3 President understands need for you to remain longer on Monday and leaves it to your best judgement as to precise departure time providing you are convinced that constructive discussions on Vietnam are taking place. He is insistent that you be in Washington Monday night since he does not believe cover will hold beyond that and he can not afford to remain at Camp David himself beyond that point. It is not yet firm whether you should go straight to Camp David or come here to the White House upon arrival.

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2. We are extending air authorities to twenty (20) degrees, per your suggestion.

3. I had another long and very testy session with the President in an effort to hold to present course.4 His main concern appears to be that he believes our agreement to resume plenaries despite the announcement of your visit to Moscow will convey impression of US collapse. I told him that my reading was precisely the opposite and that what it will do when accompanied by intense bombing up to the twentieth parallel is suggested that Moscow has blinked and provide a firm base for further escalation if required.

4. President also seems to be concerned about the bureaucratics of announcing your trip especially if the announcement does not emphasize that trip was based on situation in Vietnam. He also questioned your report that you have prevailed upon Gromyko to prevent Semenov from presenting SALT proposal to Smith when facts are that Semenov did tell Smith of new Soviet position.5 Smith, of course, told Rogers, who informed the President. I told the President that Semenov was very hazy with Smith about possibility of SLBM agreement but that in the discussions with you in Moscow the Soviets indicated firmly that they would accept an SLBM agreement.

5. Another complication here has been doom and gloom newspaper reporting out of Vietnam which is not justified by situation on the ground. In any event, in order to help allay fears, I am requesting a direct personal appraisal from Abrams for the President.6

6. I am only too aware what additional strains my messages entail for you at this time but I cannot gloss over attitudes here which you must be aware of.

7. Warm regards.

  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; Flash.
  2. Documents 151 and 152.
  3. For discussion between Nixon and Haig on the latter message, see Document 153. The two men probably discussed the former message during a telephone conversation from 9:30 to 9:59 a.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) No substantive record of the discussion has been found.
  4. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Haig called Nixon at 12:20 p.m. on April 23; the two men spoke for 21 minutes. (Ibid.) No substantive record of the discussion has been found.
  5. See Document 148.
  6. The request for Abrams’s personal appraisal and the appraisal itself are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 130, Vietnam Subject Files, HAK/Pres Memos (NVA), Situation in Vietnam (Apr 72).