198. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: Mr. President.

P: You are not meeting with Dobrynin are you?

K: As it happened I have just been talking to him because there have been some clarifications on the SALT point to move into our direction.2

P: I just don’t want you to do it too much right now Henry.

K: No, no he called me.

P: Well, I know I know. But—I think you have been gracious to them and everything but you understand what I mean. I don’t give a damn about SALT. I just couldn’t care less about it and I just think right now we better get all of our troops together and pull ourselves together—but have you finished with him—or are you still meeting.

K: No, I am not meeting with him. He called me on the telephone. It was just a three minute conversation.

P: Well, they said you were in the Map Room. I just …

K: Oh, no, no. I was in the Map Room because the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister.3

P: Oh, I see.

K: Who was a former student of mine.

P: Oh that is great. I hope he [likes?] the Israelis.

K: Oh no, I wasn’t meeting with Dobrynin.

P: Not your office, but the operators thought you were. I said I suppose he is with the Ambassador—and he said yes.

K: No, no. I was with Yigal Alon who is Deputy Prime Minister and it was really 50 percent social—he was a former student of mine but also to take their temperature.

[Page 753]

P: Do any of the Israelis except Mrs. Meir realize the importance of the United States not being humiliated in Vietnam?

K: Oh yes, he does. Absolutely.

P: None of the Jewish Community here that does except for you and Taft Schreiber.

K: I don’t consider myself part of the Jewish community.

P: Oh, I know you don’t. I am kidding. And I don’t say that in anger or anything. It is just sad isn’t it.

K: Well, he says that—I made that point to him—and he said—I said to him look, if McGovern becomes President and even if he gives you a hundred more phantoms, you are dead. Because America won’t be strong enough to do anything.

P: We won’t be prepared to seal it(?) Henry—you remember the big decision at the time of Jordan—it was not the Phantoms it was the ring. Who provided the ring?

K: And he said that he agreed with that and he claims that they are working to get you a much larger Jewish vote than you have ever had.

P: Well, not that I am impressed. But let me say this. I don’t think you understood. Maybe they will go wild over us. Let me say that if the Soviet reaction is too tough—we will let them go. [Omission in the source text] the trouble in that part of the world. Don’t you agree.

K: I agree.

P: Now the second point is, how are you going to handle, Henry, the briefing of Dobrynin? Are you just going to do it an hour before? How about the Chinese. I think that is terribly important.

K: We will send Haig or somebody up [to New York City].

P: Yes.

K: I think you should have a letter to Brezhnev and Chou En-lai. And they should both be very conciliatory.

P: Right. Now with Dobrynin, there is one point which I am sure you had in mind is that the President is taking this move—has thought a great deal about the summit and one of the reasons we did it this way was because we didn’t want to risk hitting Soviet ships. Nice slick way to do it(?)

K: Right.

P: Can I say one other thing. I don’t know whether you have done this when you talked to Dobrynin. You just said that the President is very interested in knowing what Brezhnev and Kosygin would like as gifts. Have you gone through that one with them? Did they ask us what we want.

K: No, I haven’t asked him yet.

[Page 754]

P: I think that—you can tell them that Mrs. Nixon is picking the gifts and that you know we have everything from green birds(?)—we can give them some beautiful [transistor?] radios, there are all sorts of things we can give them. I mean … I want to give them two or three different things. But say the President wants to know how generous they are and that we would like to know what they would like. And that the President and Mrs. Nixon would like to know what they would like—and also what the ladies would like.

K: Right.

P: You might call them that in a conciliatory way.

K: Right.

P: I had a real tragedy here. You just couldn’t believe it. I just dictated this damn thing—and these son-of-a-bitch dictaphones—these fellows up here. The power had gone out and I put a whole damn tape on and there wasn’t a thing on it.

K: Isn’t that tragic?

P: Can you imagine it? You know it is like getting up and making a speech and the public address is not working. All of the people we got.

K: And it is hard to ever repeat it exactly the same way again.

P: I know. Well, anything I have redone it again now.

K: That is a God-damn tragedy.

P: Well don’t worry about it. I am getting it in some sort of form and getting Andrews over here now. You can send up any of your ideas you would like. When do you and I meet again?

K: I am at your disposal this whole weekend.4

P: No. Listen the main thing is you see that that blockade goes well.

K: Well I would have done whatever needs to be done by late this afternoon. So I could come up in the evening or in the morning. Whichever you want.

P: Well, you don’t need to come up again—unless I feel that I need to talk to you about something. But I do feel that probably you should come up when we get going on the speech.

[Omitted here is further discussion on military operations in Vietnam.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 372, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. The President was at Camp David; Kissinger was in Washington.
  2. According to a transcript of a telephone conversation with Kissinger later that day, Dobrynin disclosed that the Soviet leadership had decided not to insist upon mention of certain intractable issues in any agreement arising out of Moscow. (Ibid.)
  3. Kissinger met with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Alon, Ambassador Rabin, Minister Idan, and Haig in the White House Map Room from 10:55 to 11:53 a.m. that day. (Ibid., Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule)
  4. Nixon was at Camp David May 5–7. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)