16. Note From President Nixon to the Soviet Leadership 1

The President wishes to inform the Soviet Government that his talks with the Israeli Prime Minister2 enable him to continue careful [Page 59] consideration of the Middle East question along the lines of the conversations between the President, the Soviet Foreign Minister, Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Dobrynin. A final answer will be given to Ambassador Dobrynin when he returns to Washington in January. In the meantime, the President wanted the Soviet Government to know that his current evaluation of the prospects for direct U.S.-Soviet talks is positive.
At the same time, the President wishes to convey his extreme disappointment about the Soviet actions on Vietnam. No reply has been received to the proposal outlined by Dr. Kissinger to Foreign Minister Gromyko on September 29 and formally submitted to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Paris in October.3 The direct private negotiations which the Soviet message of October 164 said were preferred by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam have failed to materialize. If this situation should indicate a decision by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to rely on a military solution, the President wishes to leave no doubt that he is prepared to take appropriate measures regardless of the impact on other policies. If the road to a negotiated settlement is closed, the President will reconsider the advisability of continuing the private Paris talks. It goes without saying that in this channel the U.S. is not interested in pro forma talks but in serious negotiations by qualified representatives at the highest level to bring about a rapid and just solution of the war.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 8. No classification marking. A note on the first page reads: “Handed by K[issinger] to Vorontsov at 6 p.m., Fri, 12/2/71.” The President and Kissinger discussed this note and the deepening crisis in South Asia on the telephone beginning at 10:45 a.m. on December 3. Kissinger told Nixon: “I think I should give a brief note to the Russians so that they don’t jump around about conversation [see footnote 3 below] yesterday and say we are going on your conversation with Gromyko [September 29]. A strong blast at their Vietnam friends and behavior on India. We are moving on our side but they are not doing enough on theirs. P: On India certainly but on VN I wonder if it sounds hollow. K: We will crack them [the North Vietnamese] in a few weeks anyway. P: You may hear from them. It’s hard to believe that with everything going our way why we didn’t hear from them. They must be asking for it and they must know it. Maybe it’s what they want. K: It won’t hurt to show the Russians that we can pick the topic. P: Say we are in accordance with the President’s statement that we are coming through on our side of the bargain and very distressed that no reciprocal action on their side.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) The September 29 conversation between Nixon and Gromyko is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIII, Soviet Union, October 1970–October 1971.
  2. Nixon and Kissinger met with Golda Meir and Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin from 3:05 to 4:53 p.m. on December 2. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) A record of the conversation is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1969–1972.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 13.
  4. See footnote 8, Document 4.