243. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger

I met with Dobrynin after the conclusion of the meeting with the President for an extended review.


Dobrynin said that it was a pity that the possibility of a big public reception had been effectively destroyed by our actions in Vietnam; he was certain that what had been planned was the biggest public welcome ever received by a Western statesman. But in every other respect the visit would be met with great cordiality.


Dobrynin then asked me about a number of questions from the SALT negotiations, specifically, a sub-limit on the conversion of old missiles to new ones and the conversion of Titans to submarines that had been raised by our Delegation in Helsinki.2 I told him that the former [Page 941] issue was important; the second issue was marginal. Dobrynin said it was a pity I had not raised both issues five days earlier, since they probably could have been resolved in our sense. I told him to make an effort anyway.


We then went over a Draft Communiqué that he had handed to me (Tab A).3 We went over it point by point and I indicated where we are likely to object. I told him we would do a re-draft which I would hand to them when we arrived in Moscow.

Middle East

We next went over the Middle East paper that he had handed to me and I made all the points from the Saunders draft (Tab B).4 Dobrynin said the best step would be for us to re-draft the paper as we wanted it, incorporating as many of the principles of theirs that we wanted but adding as many as possible of ours, and then perhaps we could make progress.

He said it was clear that it was now time for serious bargaining and that Egypt could not achieve its maximum positions. Perhaps something could be done by making a distinction between security needs and sovereignty. I said I would try and have a paper with me when we arrived in Moscow.

  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. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the President was present for the first 10 minutes of this meeting, from 9:50 to 10 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files)
  2. At their noon meeting on May 17, Dobrynin handed Kissinger the text of two instructions being sent to the Soviet delegation in Helsinki. The first read: “Additional launchers on submarines—in excess of the 48 modern submarines operational and under construction—will be put in commission in the Soviet Union in lieu of older-type ICBM launchers built before 1964 and in lieu of launchers on older-type submarines.” The second stated that the Soviet side was proceeding on the premise that this whole problem would find an appropriate solution in the course of subsequent negotiations. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 12, Part 2) Kissinger does not mention this note in his record of the May 17 meeting; see Document 239. In backchannel message WH 1351, May 17, he transmitted the text to Smith in Helsinki, noting that Smith should be aware that the term “premise” was not acceptable to the United States if it carried any implication that it was a shared premise. (Ibid., Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972, SALT)
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Not attached.