96. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

P: With the Chinese I think you probably ought to … no need to play too hard a game with them on the rhetoric side, do you think? Say we understand but please, as the President said to the Prime Minister Chou, anything we do here is not directed against you. We wouldn’t want them to say Mansfield and Scott shouldn’t come or something like that.2

K: No, Mr. President, I think exactly that’s the right course to take and that’s what I planned to do.

P: Also give them the idea we are playing them against the Russians. Have you got any ideas on that?

K: Tell them the same principle is involved here as in the India– Pakistan thing.

P: We are not getting along well with the Russians; say the President has indicated that to the Russians, and so told the legislators. Say we are not putting any pressure on them. Are you going to call Dobrynin and say we will consider the trip to Mr. Brezhnev? If you are [Page 308] going for this purpose anyway, we can say … this is the major concern.3 Incidentally, did any strike get off?

K: They are going off now Mr. President.

P: At 2:30 today. I wonder when I will have a chance to see Haig.

K: Tomorrow.… Mr. President I have a call coming in from Dobrynin now.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 371, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. A tape recording of Nixon’s side of the conversation is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Executive Office Building, Conversation No. 330–37. Several substantive discrepancies between the transcript and the tape (as transcribed by the editors specifically for this volume) are noted in the footnotes below.
  2. According to the tape recording (see footnote 1 above), Nixon said: “we wouldn’t want [them] to say they’re excited Mansfield and Scott are coming or something like that sort of thing.” Senators Mike Mansfield (D–Montana) and Hugh Scott (R–Pennsylvania), majority and minority leaders respectively, visited the People’s Republic of China April 19–22. For documentation on their trip see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XVII, China, 1969–1972.
  3. According to the tape recording, Nixon said: “Yeah, but I mean, I meant another way to indicate that we’re not getting along very well with the Russians and that the President has directed his remarks to the Russians and so too the legislative leaders. Why don’t you put it that way? And that he’s not putting any responsibility on the Chinese. How’s that? Now, you’ve got to call Mr. D[obrynin] and just tell him that we will consider a trip to Russia. I think that has great merit. If they’ll do it secretly and provide also the opportunity we would like to have anyway of your taking a trip to prepare the summit, which you see, which we did, we couldn’t with the bureaucracy for its purpose. Nobody can squeal at the end of the secret. See? So I think it has an advantage for us apart from this. On the other hand, this is the real, this is the major reason.”