219. Editorial Note

On May 12, 1972, the Washington Special Actions Group (WSAG), chaired by Assistant to the President Henry Kissinger and including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State William Sullivan, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kenneth Rush, and Under Secretary of State U. Alexis Johnson, met from 10:05 to 10:30 a.m. in the White House Situation Room to discuss the U.S. response to a published Soviet statement on Vietnam:

“Mr. Kissinger: The President and the Secretary were talking about a reply to the Soviet statement. They want to keep it low-key, and they were thinking about saying something Monday [May 14] or Tuesday. Has the statement been officially transmitted to the Department?

“Mr. Johnson: No. The Secretary told me that he didn’t think it was necessary to reply—as long as we haven’t officially received it. In my mind, the issue was still open.

“Mr. Sullivan: The Secretary is testifying on the Hill on Monday. Perhaps he can say something about the statement.

“Mr. Kissinger: If it isn’t actually handed to us, is there a need to reply?

“Mr. Johnson: No, not unless we think it would be useful.

“Mr. Kissinger: We could send the Soviets a reply if the whole situation becomes more active. At the moment, though, I agree with the Secretary’s view.

“Mr. Johnson: In any case, we have prepared a draft reply.

“Mr. Rush: As long as the Soviets have not given us a copy of the statement, they may be implying that they don’t expect a reply.

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“Mr. Johnson: That’s not necessarily the case. We and the Soviets very often do business in strange ways. During the Cuban missile crisis, for example, there were a few statements like this.

“Mr. Rush: But if they haven’t given us a copy, they may not want a reply. If they desired a reply, I think they would have given us the statement.

“Mr. Kissinger: We will have to say something, though.

“Mr. Johnson: The Secretary could do that during his appearance on the Hill on Monday.

“Mr. Kissinger: Okay. But let us see the text first.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files) Box H–116, WSAG Minutes, Originals) For Rogers’ testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 16, see Department of State Bulletin, June 5, 1972, pages 790–792.