5. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin 1
AD: Welcome back, Henry.
HAK: I just tried to reach you.
AD: Thank you very much. How are you?[Page 15]
HAK: I’m fine. Shall we have lunch on Friday?2
AD: Do you prefer breakfast or lunch—I think lunch is better.
HAK: Shall I come over there? I don’t mind being corrupted. I wanted to say two things—When we send over an announcement3—I tried to reach you last night and couldn’t get you.
AD: Yesterday I was out until around 11:00.
HAK: I tried to reach you to read the announcement to you that we are putting out—we sent it over—it is nothing. About the Chinese talks. Did you get it?
AD: No, not yet.
HAK: We sent it over this morning.
AD: I got here just 15 minutes ago. What is it about?
HAK: It is about nothing—I will read it to you now. It just says PM Chou En-lai and other Chinese officials had discussions with Dr. Kissinger and his party . . . reads rest of Saturday announcement.
AD: That’s all?
HAK: It was essentially a review of the situation and they of course asked questions about the meaning of various agreements—if you can imagine.
AD: No, no, it is imaginable.
HAK: I explained exactly in the terms of more or less our public presentations. And they were not crazy about Article 3 of our general principles. And then there was some Vietnam discussions. I’ll go over with you on Monday—but nothing of startling interest.
AD: It’s all right. I’d like to talk to you about several things including strategic arms—you remember? Then about signing here about the Deputy of Trade and I would like to discuss it with you—but you’ll be there in your office let’s say within an hour?
AD: I will call you because he might arrive on Sunday—
HAK: This coming Sunday?
HAK: Yes. Deputy of Trade you say?
AD: Yes, he is the First Deputy of Policy. In connection with what the President discussed in Moscow. Maybe in an hour or a half an hour I will call you back.[Page 16]
HAK: One other thing that needs no saying. I don’t know whether you read that Joe Alsop column4 yesterday.
HAK: Well, it is pure, absolute total (?) mystery.
AD: What did he say?
HAK: He said that I was going there to discuss military measures against a Soviet attack.
AD: Why would he write something like this?
HAK: Anatol, I do not understand it. First off I do not believe there will be a Soviet attack, secondly, I have said a thousand times that I have never discussed any military measures with him—you know—it is not that sort of a relationship.
AD: That is why I was wondering why. It is interesting why he would do it.
HAK: I cannot understand it.
AD: He has a good personal relationship . . .
HAK: He has an excellent relationship with me—I am so furious with him that I have ordered both Haig and of course myself to cut off all contact with him. Because this is the—he has an excellent relationship with me and for that reason it’s going to mean a significance that it wouldn’t normally have.
AD: Because—this is the point, there is no reason why—two or three days ago he wrote an article about all the Soviet ambassadors5— I don’t know if you remember—going around saying that there—
HAK: Well, you saw the article he wrote about me that I will be made Secretary of State6—do you think that will do me any good?
AD: (laughs) It would be flattering from the point of view of the common public, I should say.
HAK: From the point of view of the common public, it is flattering, but from the point of view of Washington it is a disaster—you know that.
AD: Yes, I know.
HAK: But believe me—I haven’t seen the article about you—
AD: No, no there was no article about me—just that all the Russian ambassadors that they were telling everyone that the military advance of the North Vietnamese is a complete failure.[Page 17]
HAK: Well, he doesn’t get that from me either.
AD: To put that in my mouth, I am saying everyone—it is nothing really otherwise, you know.
HAK: You know, Anatol, both you and I know he is violently anti-Soviet for a reason we both know and he is making the maximum amount of mischief. I normally don’t comment to you about newspapers, but I have—and to do that while I am in Peking, so it isn’t speculation, it’s like he really knew something.
AD: As if it were a special kind of connection [laughs].
HAK: Well, I can tell you I don’t know what the Chinese think, but they must be furious.
AD: It doesn’t bother about their feelings specifically.
HAK: Of course, you know if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t do it, it would be insane in the light of our present relationship, but it is an absolute outrage.
AD: I will call you in a half an hour.
HAK: I will be giving a brief press conference this morning7 just describing the schedule of my trip of China—it’s just mechanical.
AD: I see—just in Peking or your travels around Peking.
HAK: Just Peking. Oh, there was another article in the newspapers incidentally that I had visited the Polytechnical Institute and talked to their rocket experts—total nonsense.
AD: Yes, and last night or the week before it was the guest house where you stayed there were so many people around arriving for the special meeting.
HAK: Again, total nonsense. The day I went—you know they followed it and they were usually cut off by security people—I can tell you what I did but that morning I went to the Sports Academy where they train acrobatics and ping pong players which is about two miles from the Polytechnical Institute—and I went to the Sports Academy, so they—I never went to the Institute or saw that scientist. For example, one night they said I had a late meeting at the Great Hall of the People—somebody must have put this stuff out in Peking, because what happened was that I went to an Opera performance at the Great Hall of the People which ended at 11:00.[Page 18]
AD: Did you have American newspapermen there?
HAK: No, this was the local press and of course the Chinese controlled them completely—I cannot control what they do, but I did not see a single newsman and there was no particular meeting in fact the last night we had been outside the guest house.
AD: They’re probably just trying to arrive at a colorful . . . saying you are in Peking.
HAK: You call me at 11:00, I’ll be back in my office—11:15.
AD: Okay, I’ll call at 11:15.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Telephone Conversations (Telcons), Box 14, Chronological File. No classification marking. Brackets are in the original. Blank underscores are omissions in the original.↩
- They met on Monday, June 26; see Document 6.↩
- For the text of the official joint statement on Kissinger’s talks in China, issued simultaneously in Washington and Beijing on the morning of June 24, see Robert B. Semple, Jr., “Kissinger Detects No Change on War After China Visit,” The New York Times, June 25, 1972, p. 1. The records of Kissinger’s meetings with Chinese leaders are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XVII, China, 1969–1972, Documents 231–234.↩
- A reference to Joseph Alsop, “Countering Russia,” Washington Post, June 23, 1972, p. A19.↩
- See Alsop’s column, “Moscow’s View of Hanoi,” Washington Post, June 14, 1972, p. A27.↩
- Not further identified.↩
- For a summary of Kissinger’s comments, see Semple, “Kissinger Detects No Change on War After China Visit,” The New York Times, June 25, 1972, p. 1. In a telephone conversation on June 24 at 12:25 p.m., Kissinger discussed the press conference with President Nixon, who asked: “Did you get across the point, which I think is very important, you know, that our relations with them [the Chinese] are very good—that’s the thing.” When Kissinger replied affirmatively, Nixon said: “that’s the thing that I think will really bust or burn the Soviet’s ass.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Telephone Conversations (Telcons), Box 14, Chronological File)↩
- In the telephone conversation with Nixon at 12:25 p.m., Kissinger said: “I talked to Dobrynin again this morning.” Nixon responded: “Oh, tell me about that.” Kissinger replied: “Slobbering all over me, saying how serious his leaders are and when can I let him know whether we are ready to negotiate. I said on Monday I’ll give him an answer. Because I think we should first notify the North Vietnamese. They shouldn’t hear it from them.”↩