34. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador

The meeting began with an exchange of pleasantries in which we talked to each other about each other’s vacations. Dobrynin said he never had a chance to see Brezhnev who was traveling around the country, but that they had had an extensive phone conversation.

[Page 90]

Kissinger Visit

Brezhnev was looking forward very much to receiving me and intended to conduct the two days of conversations himself. In fact Brezhnev had called a meeting of the Politburo for the earliest time that Dobrynin could get back in order to go over the positions.

Dobrynin asked a number of questions. First, with respect to the length of my stay, he proposed the 11th and 12th in Moscow, then leaving on the 13th for Leningrad and on the 14th we could leave directly from Leningrad to our destination. I asked, what if we did not finish our work? He said in that case it would be better if we stayed the morning of the 13th in Moscow. It was clear that the Soviets were not eager to have us in Moscow on the 13th, from which I assumed that perhaps Le Duc Tho was coming through.

Dobrynin then raised some social questions, such as whether I wanted to see Giselle at the Bolshoi. I told him it was one of my favorite ballets.

Nuclear Understanding

He then reviewed the list of subjects. He said, first of all there is the nuclear understanding. He said the Soviet side had the impression that the nuclear understanding as we had drafted it2 was primarily useful as a justification to go to nuclear war, not as a way of avoiding it. Had we really lost interest in the subject? I said no, we had not lost interest but we had major difficulty with the Soviet proposition. Dobrynin asked whether we would be prepared to pursue explorations with a view to coming to a conclusion. I said yes, but of course conclusions could never be guaranteed. Dobrynin said that it would be very helpful if I could prepare something in writing that reflected our concerns, so that they could perhaps come back with a counterproposal to keep the conversations going. I told Dobrynin that I would do that.

I pointed out that for us the important paragraph was paragraph 2 of our declaration. Dobrynin said that might be handleable if paragraph 1 could be strengthened. I said we would have to continue working at it.


He then asked about SALT. What did we think? Could the Provisional Agreement3 be made permanent? I said, in principle, yes, but the numbers would have to be modified. He asked whether we had done [Page 91] any thinking. I said yes, but it was in a very preliminary stage. He said it would be very helpful for the meeting with Brezhnev if they could have an outline to consider. For example, would we be willing to make the present agreement permanent? I said no, the numbers would have to be modified. Dobrynin asked whether we had given any thinking to qualitative restrictions. Would it be possible, for example, to have a provisional qualitative agreement as a forerunner to a permanent one just as the interim quantitative agreement was a forerunner to a permanent one? I said that was an interesting question which we should discuss.

Leningrad Consulate

Dobrynin then turned to the issue of the Leningrad consulate. He said that Brezhnev was willing to make a special promise that the construction of the Leningrad consulate would be completed by July 1. Would I be prepared to open it? I said it would be bureaucratically difficult to open the consulate on such short notice. I would prefer to come back from Leningrad having looked at the consulate with a decision that it be opened.4 Dobrynin said, “Well, in that case we will handle it in diplomatic channels.” I said—and I don’t know whether the offer will still be good—I said it didn’t make any sense to me that if I gave him a promise that the consulate would be opened by, say, October 15, why this could not be done. Dobrynin said he would check with Moscow.


We then turned to MBFR and CSCE. Dobrynin said he was somewhat baffled. On the same day that I had told him that the MBFR discussions would not have to start on the same date as the European Security Conference, Beam had come in and had made exactly the opposite point.5 I said that by now Dobrynin should know who represented American policy. Dobrynin said he did, but Gromyko was not yet used to Ambassadors who didn’t exactly know their government’s views. At any rate, if we were prepared to agree to a European Security Conference on November 22, they would be prepared for MBFR exploratory discussions by the end of January. And if then the European Security Conference would take place during the summer of 1973, the MBFR Conference could take place in the fall of 1973. I told him that this looked like a realistic procedure.

[Page 92]

Economic and Maritime Agreements

We then reviewed our economic proposal. I substantially followed the talking points prepared by Peterson [Tab A].6 Dobrynin said he thought there was a basis for an agreement.

The next subject concerned maritime agreements, and there too I followed the talking points prepared [Tab B].7 The end result was that it was agreed that the schedule laid down for both of these topics could be followed.

Dobrynin said he thought major progress would be made on my trip.

Middle East

Dobrynin asked where we stood on the Middle East. I said I didn’t know how to proceed because I didn’t know who really could be talked to. Dobrynin said that he thought that Sadat was a little bit deranged, but still one should look for the possibilities of settlement six months, a year, or two years from now. Could I come up with some proposal of what the security zones would look like? I said yes, I would, and I would give it to him in an oral form.

Japan and China

We then turned to Japan. Dobrynin asked what I thought of the Japanese rapprochement with China. I said we were somewhat relaxed because we saw them competing everywhere potentially and this present infatuation must be replaced sooner or later by some concrete steps. Dobrynin said this might be true theoretically but we should never underestimate the anti-white bias of these two nations, and they might just get together on the basis of both hating whites. In that case he hoped that we would understand that the material forces at our disposal and the Soviet Union’s could be brought to bear much more rapidly than anything the other side could do. I said we were aware of this but I didn’t believe matters would reach this point.

Brezhnev Visit

There was a concluding discussion about Brezhnev’s visit to the United States. Dobrynin suggested that he might come in September together with the General Assembly. I said that would be a poor time [Page 93] for us because we wanted the trip primarily as a U.S.-Soviet measure. Dobrynin said, “Well, then late May or early June would be appropriate.” I told him that this seemed good to us too.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 13. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The dinner meeting took place at the Soviet Embassy.
  2. See Tab D, Document 30.
  3. Presumably a reference to the Interim Agreement.
  4. [text not declassified]
  5. See Document 30 and footnotes 4 and 5 thereto.
  6. Not attached. Peterson’s talking points, August 28, are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Office Files, Box 74, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Moscow Trip–Economic Talks, Henry A. Kissinger. These and the following brackets are in the original.
  7. Not found. Haig forwarded talking points prepared by Sonnenfeldt on the “shipping problem” as an attachment to a memorandum to Kissinger, September 4; it is ibid., NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 13.