239. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
  • Henry A. Kissinger

Dobrynin and I met to review the state of the summit.

Summit Preparations

I delivered a number of messages from the President. First, I said there should be no reference to the special channel in the presence of State Department personnel. Dobrynin said that was clearly understood in Moscow and that the only reason they mentioned the word “channel” was because it had become a term of art in the Soviet Union among the Politburo members; they understood the situation that made it necessary and would respect it. Second, I said that the President did [Page 930] not wish the Berlin agreement2 signed during the visit in Moscow because he did not want to get Four Power activities mixed up with the summit. Dobrynin agreed that this was so, but said the initiative did not come from them; it came from the State Department.

I asked Dobrynin about whether the Soviet leaders were in the habit of reading their toasts or speaking extemporaneously. Dobrynin replied that the toast on the first evening would be a rather substantial statement of Soviet policy; that it would almost certainly be read and that he was certain that it would be advanced in a positive spirit.

I asked Dobrynin whether it was possible to have the President broadcast from the Kremlin. Dobrynin agreed that he would transmit this request to Moscow. I did not use the argument that the advance people had given me, namely, that I should say the President would work on his speech until shortly before, primarily because the Soviets had asked me to give them the speech an hour or two hours before so that they could get their interpreter ready.

Dobrynin raised the issue that the State Department was making a lot of technical objections to the scientific agreement and wondered whether I could expedite it. I told him I would do my best.

Dobrynin raised the problem of using Soviet cars in Leningrad and Kiev, since it would be rather humiliating to Soviet leaders for the President to ride in his own car. However, he told me that the Soviet leaders would yield if the President insisted. It would make a much better impression, however, if this could be avoided. I told him I would look into it.

Middle East

We then turned to the Middle East. I handed Dobrynin the unsigned attached paper on security arrangements in Sinai (Tab A).3 Dobrynin said that on first reading it seemed hopelessly complex and was not really responsive to the Soviet paper. He wondered whether it might not be a better procedure for us to take their paper point by point and respond to it. I said I would do what I could and we could have a discussion of it at Camp David.

He said that the Soviet leaders had now given up the idea of concluding an agreement at the summit. They still thought it useful, however, if we could agree on some principles. It could point in the direction [Page 931] of an agreement that one would work on over the next few months. I said perhaps the method he proposed of my commenting on his paper would give us an opening.


We then turned to Vietnam. I told him that it was clear we were determined to bring the war to a conclusion and that I hoped the Soviet Union would not complicate matters. Dobrynin said that he could assure me that the Soviet leaders were bringing great pressure on the Vietnamese to agree to a private meeting on Sunday. He had seen the cable to Hanoi and it was the toughest cable that they had sent to Hanoi.

Dobrynin asked whether I really thought the blockade would work. I said I was certain that over a period of months it would have a major impact.4

We then discussed meeting to go to Camp David in the evening, and the meeting broke up.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 12, Part 2. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Map Room at the White House.
  2. Secretary Rogers and the British, French, and Soviet Foreign Ministers signed the final protocol of the Four-Power Agreement on Berlin in Berlin on June 3—the same day as the exchange of instruments of ratification of the treaties between Western Germany and the Soviet Union and Poland. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, for information on the Four-Power negotiations leading to the September 1971 Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. On May 18 the President sent a memorandum to Haig stating that while he was in Moscow, it was “vitally important” that U.S. bombing activity continue, at least at its present level and if possible above the present level. He said it was particularly important that strikes in North Vietnam and around the area of Hanoi and Haiphong, except for the small area of Hanoi itself, be kept up at their present levels so that the enemy would not get any impression that the United States was letting up because of the Moscow trip. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Personal Files, Box 3, Memoranda From the President, Memos—May 1972)