16. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Anatoli Dobrynin
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger

I saw Dobrynin and told him I had three matters to discuss.

Middle East

I wanted to give him a message from the President regarding events in Egypt.2 We were not aware of these events beforehand. We had not yet fully understood their significance. Nor did we know the extent of Soviet withdrawal. In any event, I wanted Dobrynin to know that the President had issued the strictest orders that there would be no U.S. initiatives toward Cairo and that we would not try to gain unilateral advantages. On the contrary, we would proceed within the letter and spirit of my conversations with Gromyko in Moscow in June [May].3

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Dobrynin said he appreciated this and handed me a letter [Tab A]4 which in effect stated that this Soviet move was a unilateral step in the direction of the proposition they had made to us last year and that now it was up to us to take some reciprocal action. I said we would study the letter and no doubt there would be some formal response.


Secondly, I told Dobrynin that we accepted the Soviet changes in the SALT interpretive statement [Tab B]5 and that we should get it signed at an early occasion. I asked him whether he thought Smith or I should sign it. He said the Soviet side would prefer it if I signed it so that we could avoid getting it in all the newspapers.


Thirdly, I told Dobrynin about my meeting with the North Vietnamese in Paris.6 I said the meeting up to now was quite inconclusive. The tone of the North Vietnamese was more acceptable than it had ever been in the past and the discussions left open the possibility that there might be a settlement. The North Vietnamese side did not make any very concrete proposals, and frankly neither did we. We only presented the military side of the proposals we had discussed in Moscow. Dobrynin asked why we had not presented the part that had been discussed with Brezhnev. I said because we did not want to get it refused and produce a deadlock. Dobrynin said, “How stupid of me. I should have recognized this and it was a correct tactic. You are a good chess player. My leaders will fully understand.” I said I hoped that if there were a settlement the Soviet Union would exercise restraint in the shipment of supplies. He said, well, right now there was a problem about getting supplies in altogether, so it was not the most acute issue.

We then turned to other matters. We discussed my trip to the Soviet Union. I suggested arriving on September 10 and staying for something like three days. Dobrynin said he would check in Moscow and let me know. Dobrynin also mentioned that there was a chance that he might be called back to Moscow for three or four weeks. In that event he would be back in Washington around August 25. In any event he would be in Moscow when I was there. We then parted on an extremely cordial note, with Dobrynin expressing profuse thanks for everything that had been done for him on his visit to the West Coast.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 12. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place in the White House Map Room.
  2. On July 18, President Sadat ordered the withdrawal of all Soviet advisers from Egypt.
  3. For the memoranda of these conversations, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Documents 293 and 295.
  4. Not attached. All following brackets are in the original.
  5. The note is attached, but not printed.
  6. Kissinger met with Le Duc Tho on July 19. The record of the meeting is printed ibid., volume VIII, Vietnam, January 1972–October 1972, Document 207.