224. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
  • Henry A. Kissinger


Dobrynin came in in order to carry out, as he said, the priority of the confidential channel on SALT matters, and submitted a whole series of texts (Tab A)2 which were going to be given to our delegation in the next few days in Helsinki. He asked for my quick reaction.

On their proposed Article III on inclusion of SLBMs, and on their proposed “Definition of ICBM,” I made no comment.

On their proposed language that “it is not expedient to set geographic limits to the location of areas of ABM deployment for covering ICBM silos,” I told him this would be completely unacceptable. He left the impression that our objection would be manageable.

On their “Draft Exchange Letter” on SLBMs, I reminded Dobrynin that to reach their totals the Soviets must dismantle G-and H-Class submarines. Dobrynin said Moscow understood that we had mentioned this as our position. I expressed no opinion on the draft “Annex: Statement of the Soviet Side” except to say that the last sentence could not be drafted in any way that implied that the “premise” referred to was one that we accept. Dobrynin indicated this was a manageable point.

[Page 835]

On the final item, on ABM radars, I made no comment.

Summit Preparations

Dobrynin then turned the conversation to the forthcoming Summit. He asked again what gifts the President might want. I told him that some piece of art, as long as it wasn’t modern, would be very appropriate. I then asked him what Brezhnev might want. Dobrynin said he liked cars, which should be black. I mentioned something like the Mustang. He said, no, he thought it would be some sort of Cadillac, and he would call me later about what sort of Cadillac Brezhnev might have in mind.


Later in the day, Dobrynin called me and delivered a message on Vietnam, attached at Tab B.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 11. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Map Room at the White House. Kissinger returned to his office at 11:30 a.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule) On May 14 Kissinger sent Smith a backchannel message that transmitted the text of the first 5 paragraphs of this memorandum. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, SALT, 1972)
  2. Attached but not printed. Also attached but not printed was the text of an oral note that Dobrynin gave Kissinger at this meeting. The oral note stated that the President understood the Soviet concern expressed in a note handed to Kissinger by Dobrynin on May 12 about damages to Soviet ships in North Vietnamese harbors; see footnote 4, Document 221. U.S. military commanders had been given strict instructions not to attack Soviet ships. The note also stated that U.S. air operations against Hanoi would be suspended during Nixon’s visit to the Soviet Union.
  3. Attached but not printed. No record of this telephone conversation has been found. The Soviet note, given by Sokolov to Haig at 2 p.m. on May 14, suggested that the U.S. and Vietnamese sides resume their negotiations in Paris in early June and announce their intention to resume before the Moscow summit. The note also suggested that neither side should make preconditions. As for private negotiations, the note stated that they were not precluded, but warned that this was the view of the Soviet leadership and not that of the North Vietnamese.