64. Memorandum From President Nixon to White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman)1

On Saturday afternoon, just before he left for Acapulco, I discussed with Henry an idea I had had the night before that Bill Rogers should go to Europe to consult with the major European leaders prior to our Moscow trip.2 Henry thought it was a very good idea and at my suggestion called Bill and Bill, according to Henry, jumped at the idea and wants to go forward on it.

The problem we have to work around is the date of Henry’s trip to Europe, which will take place sometime in the latter part of April unless some plans change. In any event, the best time for Rogers to go would be the first two weeks of May. From the first of May on this would mean we could start the build–up of the Moscow trip and it would allow him time to get back here four or five days before we took off for Moscow.

I want you to discuss the matter with Haig—I see no need to talk with Henry further about it because he has already raised the subject with Rogers. I just don’t want Rogers to get frozen in on dates that will be unacceptable. And then I think you should talk to Bill along the following lines. Tell him that the first two weeks of May would be better from our standpoint and that April is a month that I will be making a considerable amount of news on the domestic front; that from the first of May on we want to start the build–up for the Moscow trip. Second, I think it is important in terms of giving his trip the proper build–up, that it not be leaked out by State, but that it be announced from the White House. However, it is up to him, but in this instance his controlling the leaks will be very much to his advantage. If this appears simply as a State Department trip it will not have near the impact it will if it appears to be the Secretary of State going abroad at the request of the President to consult not just with foreign ministers but with the heads of government of our major European allies.

Along the same lines, after the Moscow trip Bill, as you know, is going to NATO. There is the question of whether or not he might be able to stop over for a day in Stockholm at the Environmental Conference. I think you could discuss this with him to see whether he could [Page 216]work it into his schedule. It is probably a very good PR device for the Administration to have that kind of ranking representative as the head of our delegation. Also, it avoids the problem within the Administration where there is a considerable battle going on as to who will be the head of the delegation. Incidentally, I was talking to Elliot Richardson briefly at the church services and he indicated that he would probably rather go to Japan than to Stockholm. I think this is a good idea because more attention being paid to Japan probably is in our interest, apart from the fact that it will avoid some of the rivalry that will inevitably be produced if too many VIPs go to the Stockholm meeting. Be sure that Bill knows, as far as the Environmental Conference is concerned, however, that it is his choice. If he prefers not to go we then have to put another Cabinet officer in charge of the delegation. It would give him excellent speech material when he returns to add to the speech material that he would have on China and also on Moscow.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Personal Files, Box 3, Memoranda from the President, Memos–March 1972. No classification marking. The text of the memorandum was dictated by Nixon.
  2. See Document 63.