23. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Russian Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
The meeting took place in an extremely cordial atmosphere.
Dobrynin began the meeting by a rather strong attack on the Jackson Resolution.2 He said it would be very difficult to understand in Moscow why such a measure should be pushed by the Administration.3 I said it was not pushed by the Administration, but indeed that [Page 63] we had declared our neutrality. Dobrynin said it would never make any sense in Moscow that Senator Scott would put his name on a resolution not supported by the White House. He thought it was very unfortunate and that we would pay a price totally out of proportion to any possible gain. He said that we should remember that Brezhnev and the President signed it jointly; how would we feel if the Soviets attached reservations on their part even if they repeated things that had already been agreed upon? I told Dobrynin I would have to see what could be done at this late stage. Dobrynin said that he had no official authority but he wanted to tell me that it really would make a great deal of difference if some progress could be made.
We then turned to my trip to the Soviet Union. Dobrynin said they expected some definite progress on the nuclear understanding, and they were prepared to sign it early in October when he thought it would do us a great deal of good. I said we would do our best, but that their present draft was not quite acceptable.4 He said it would help if I could give him a counterdraft. I said I would do my best. Dobrynin pointed out that he would return to the Soviet Union on August 14th for about two weeks, so that it would really be quite important to have such a draft available by then.
We then talked about the economic negotiations. Dobrynin pointed out that there had not been as much progress as we had expected, but he assumed that this was due to our desire to keep matters in status quo until September. He asked whether I thought we would settle for 3% on the Lend-Lease. I said we would have to study it but we would certainly make a major effort to get the Lend-Lease agreement settled in September, particularly if they were willing to meet us some part of the way.
Dobrynin reiterated Brezhnev’s great interest in the LNG project.5 I again pointed out that we were in principle willing, but that it was a technically complex issue which required further study.[Page 64]
In a half-hearted way Dobrynin asked whether we had any papers on the Middle East. I told him that we hadn’t made too much progress but I didn’t have the impression that he really wanted to pursue the topic.
We reviewed the status of the $200 thousand payoff for Markelov and Ivanov and the legal steps that had to be taken to return $180 thousand from it.6
Dobrynin told me that during my visit Brezhnev personally wanted to conduct the negotiations. But since no official decision to that effect had been made, he could not give me the formal notification. Also, he thought that the Soviet Union would agree to an announcement on September 5th, though again no official position had been taken.
I then handed Dobrynin our opening statement and draft plan from our August 1st meeting with the North Vietnamese7 for the personal information of Brezhnev.
Dobrynin said that the only information they had about the July 19th meeting8 was that I had presented my proposals in a very conciliatory way but I had not gone beyond what had already been presented in Moscow. He asked me whether I had anything to add. I said no, I didn’t wish to add anything to what they had already been told by their allies.
I told Dobrynin that I hoped that North Vietnam would not confuse the impact of the election. They should know that under pressure we always moved forward. Dobrynin remarked that the North Viet[Page 65]namese were undoubtedly counting on the fact that we would become more conciliatory under the pressure of the campaign. In his judgment they would wait until the end of September to see whether the President still held a substantial lead, and then they would make a move if they thought there was no probability of an electoral outcome. He said he had begun to wonder whether McGovern represented really a new alignment of forces or was similar to the Goldwater phenomenon. I said we would soon know, but that we would not pay any attention to domestic politics; we would pursue the strategy which we consider to be in the national interest. Dobrynin said that there could be no doubt that they wanted to win.
We agreed to meet again on August 11th.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 13. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The luncheon meeting took place at the Soviet Embassy.↩
- On August 3, the U.S. Senate ratified the ABM Treaty by a vote of 88–2. On the same day, Senator Henry M. Jackson (D–WA) substituted his own version of a resolution approving the U.S.-Soviet Interim Agreement on limiting offensive strategic nuclear weapons, i.e. the SALT agreement. Jackson’s amendment to the original resolution approving the agreement “put Congress on record as favoring the principle of numerical equality on offensive weapons in any treaty negotiated in the next round of the strategic arms limitations talks.” Jackson’s resolution also contained an admonition that if Moscow took any steps—even ones permitted under the Interim Agreement—that endangered U.S. strategic forces, “this would be ground for abrogating the agreement.” (John W. Finney, “Senate Approves Missile Pact with Soviet on Missiles, 88–2,” The New York Times, August 4, 1972, p. 1)↩
- The New York Times reported that Jackson’s substitute resolution approving the Interim Agreement was “apparently supported by the White House.” (Ibid.) In an August 4 memorandum to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt recommended that Kissinger tell Dobrynin that “regardless of what The New York Times may say, we did not put Jackson up to the resolution” and that “we have been trying” to “get the language changed so that it will create no problems for the USSR.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 13)↩
- See Document 17 and footnote 3 thereto.↩
- A reference to a proposed gas deal between the Soviet Union and the United States, in which the United States would assist in the development of Soviet liquefied natural gas fields in exchange for imports. Regarding Brezhnev’s interst in the project, see Document 21. See also Document 69.↩
- Igor Ivanov, a chauffeur for the Soviet trade agency Amtorg, was convicted of espionage in October 1963. Ever since, pending appeals, he had been free on $100,000 bail. Valerii Markelov, a Soviet translator at the UN, had been arrested on February 14, 1972, for espionage. Haig wrote in a memorandum to Kissinger on August 3 that “Justice is moving rapidly on Ivanov so that the $80,000 [of the original bail] can be returned by the end of the week or the first of next week to the Soviets.” Haig also reported that Justice was recommending “that we move on the 15th to get the $100,000 back in the Markelov case at a time when the regular judge [who was then on vacation] will be back temporarily and can do it quietly and gracefully.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 995, Alexander M. Haig Chronological File)↩
- See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume VIII, Vietnam, January 1972–October 1972, Document 225.↩
- See ibid., Document 207.↩