26. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
  • Soviet Chargé Yuly Vorontsov

I met with Vorontsov at my request to hand him a draft letter to Kosygin (attached) on the need to put an end to hostilities.2

Vorontsov said that I had to believe him that a major effort was being made to induce the Indians; however, they were not being very reasonable. I said that there was no longer any excuse; the President had made any number of personal appeals, all of which had been rejected, and it was time to move. Vorontsov asked me whether it could be dealt with in the United Nations. I told him yes, we were prepared to support the British Resolution3 if the Soviet Union would. Vorontsov said that the British Resolution was not very agreeable; the Soviets were trying to promote the Polish Resolution.4 I said I wanted him to know that we would not agree to any resolution that recognized a turnover of authority. There was a question of principle involved. It was bad enough that the United Nations was impotent in the case of military attack; it could not be asked to legitimize it. However, as I pointed out, we were prepared to work in a parallel direction.

Vorontsov said that the letter presented some difficulties. The Soviet Union was prepared unconditionally to guarantee the United States that there would be no Indian attack on the Western front or on [Page 83] Kashmir, and that when they referred to West Pakistan they meant the existing dividing line. However, to do this publicly would mean that they were in effect speaking for a friendly country. After all, India was not a client state. I said that the course of events was obvious: Either there would be a ceasefire soon in the West anyway through the UN or through direct dealings with us, or else we would have to draw appropriate conclusions.

Vorontsov said, “In a little while we will go back to where we were.” I said, “I have told you for two weeks now that this is not the case.” On this note, we left.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 8. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Map Room at the White House.
  2. The draft letter was attached. A handwritten note at the top of the first page reads: “Draft shown to Min. Vorontsov by HAK, 11:30 a.m., 12/15/71.” The draft letter noted that the military conflict in East Pakistan was moving to a conclusion and the remaining task was to end the bloodshed there and end fighting in the West. Since UN efforts had not yielded progress, Nixon asked: “Is it not therefore urgently desirable that our two countries should take prompt and reasonable steps to ensure that the military conflict does not spread and that assurances be given against territorial acquisition by either side?” The President hoped that the United States and Soviet Union could “cooperate to achieve an end to all the fighting, to remove the concern that the war will become one of conquest, and to eliminate the threat to peace that has arisen.” Nixon’s draft letter added, that this “would, of course, not prejudice anybody’s position with respect to an ultimate political solution.”
  3. For a summary of the British resolution, see footnote 6, Document 25. The resolution is UN doc S/10455.
  4. UN doc S/10453.
  5. At 5:55 p.m. on December 15, Kissinger reported on this conversation by telephone to President Nixon who was vacationing in Key Biscayne, Florida. Kissinger said: “I never had a chance to give you a report from Vorontsov. I gave him the draft letter to Kosygin asking him for joint action to stop the fighting. I told him we put it forward not to get any additional confrontations. I also said they could support the British Resolution which is really at the very edge, well beyond the edge of what is tolerable.” The conversation then dealt more generally with the South Asia crisis, with Kissinger telling the President of reports that the Soviet Union was encouraging India to take Kashmir, but with both hoping that it might not happen. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)