42. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman) and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: Sorry to bother you at home. I found out that Rogers is seeing Dobrynin.2 I know this sounds again like we are starting a constant fight but this is going to blow up the summit.

H: What should we do?

K: Somebody has to be in charge. To let this snake maneuver between the two of us.

H: What do we do?

K: No discussions until after the summit. First of all, it is an insolent note. It is useless. To say that he will cover the subjects covered at other levels of Government, that’s me.

[Page 145]

H: Yeah.

K: I don’t give a damn about that. What I give a damn about—I told Haig the minute he gets our memcon,3 he will get a meeting. I think I told you too.

H: Yeah.

K: The trouble is this will get—the trouble is it gives Dobrynin the chance to maneuver between us. … and no telling what Rogers will give on the Middle East. Then Dobrynin can take whatever is the softer version and whipsaw us with it.

H: When is he seeing him?

K: Tomorrow.

H: You don’t know when?

K: No.

H: I can’t do anything now because he and the President are both at a dinner.

K: It won’t be early. I made my biggest mistake—I sent him a Brezhnev letter deleting the references to me. Now I have got to call Dobrynin and tell him what he knows and doesn’t know.

H: I will see if we can turn it off in the morning.

K: And there is a chance of another thing about these airplanes. He is all for surfacing the May 31 proposal.4 No one has asked for it. It will only get us in trouble.

H: So what has happened?

K: Only surfaces those proposals the North Vietnamese had … him and Ziegler; him and Haig; him and McCloskey; McCloskey and Haig. You ask Ziegler if that wasn’t a totally artificial crisis.

H: You mean surfacing?

K: That’s right. No one has asked for it. We put a lot of things in from which we could depart and that’s why he wants to surface it.

H: That’s turned off now.

K: Yeah, but if he has this meeting you can’t tell what he will do. What worries me is the Russian summit. Everything we give him he turns into a goddamn fight. If the Russian Summit goes the way Dobrynin and I have planned it, it will be such a smashing success it can’t fail.

H: Let’s see if we can turn him off in the morning.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 371, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 45.
  3. Document 41.
  4. Reference is to the May 31, 1971, U.S. offer, as made public in Nixon’s January 25 speech, to set a deadline for mutual withdrawal that was rejected by the North Vietnamese; see footnote 2, Document 40.