114. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1

D: Hello.

K: Anatol.

D: Oh, hello, Henry. How are you?

K: Okay. Two questions. First, can we move the dinner with the Vice President to Wednesday2 rather than Thursday?

D: No problem.

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K: You don’t give a dinner for the Israeli Ambassador then?

D: No. We have only on Saturday with him.

K: No, Saturday is a Jewish holiday.

D: That’s why we have a dinner with him on Saturday. [Laughter]

K: None of these anti-Semitic remarks or we’ll get another Amendment passed.

D: Next Wednesday, fine. Eight o’clock.

K: Eight o’clock. And I’m going to see what kind of caviar the Vice President gets, probably better than I.

D: Well, each egg will be bigger size but it will be less number of eggs.

K: Now, Anatol, on the question of trade. I mean, on that letter,3 I deliberately did not want to put in the letter—I told you we are prepared to go back to the Congress.

D: Well, this will be very fine if you just mention.

K: But what I want to say to you is this—A number of things you said to me the other day, I understood very well. It really is up to you to make the decision on how you handle the immediate problem.

D: No, as for immediate I don’t argue with you. But the question really is—

K: Let me tell you this—Let me tell you orally. We are determined to restore—to bring about the situation envisaged in 1972.

D: Yeah.

K: Now by what procedure we get there, by whether you should accept the present situation and we then ask for an amendment or whether you should reject the present situation and we then go back to Congress a year later.

D: Yeah.

K: That is really up to you to decide.

D: Well, I understand. No, I mean, as for the question, for instance—

K: Now you can tell Brezhnev formally from the President that it is our intention to bring about the situation envisaged in 1972.

D: Why the President couldn’t say—maybe not in a precise way but that the Administration is thinking how to conquer the situation.

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K: All right. I’ll send over a sentence which you can put in there.4

D: I think this will be better.

K: All right, we will indicate where to do this.

D: Yeah. Because now it sounds that you are prepared to do direct within the limits. I already mentioned to Brent.

K: Yeah. But now, Anatol, we have a concrete problem. We have to bring this to a decision because we can do nothing with Congress until you formally inform us one way or—

D: I couldn’t give you now any answer because I am sure—I mentioned to them what you discussed, what you’re expecting but at the same time I mentioned to them that in two or three days will be the letter of the President so they are waiting for the letter of President. Only after then, I will issue oral reply.

K: Okay. Well, all right. I will send over a sentence and I will indicate to you where to put it.

D: Okay.

K: I will do that within the next half hour.

D: Okay. I definitely will try to get answer within a few days.

K: Well, I think the way to handle the other matter—the formal matter. How would it be if I asked Hartman to call in Vorontsov and just walk with him through the steps I did informally?

D: On what steps?

K: What it takes to put the Trade Agreement into effect.

D: Except—I mean, the letter which you discussed, yeah?

K: The letter and the assurances we have to give.

D: I think there is no problem. Let them. Because then, after all, it’s matter nothing because . . .

K: Then if you refuse it, we can say we have put it formally to the—

D: Yes!

K: You see what I mean?

D: Yes, of course.

K: And if you refuse it at the Hartman level, then they can’t say it was a slap at the President.

D: No, no, because in this case—Oh, you mean from—Okay, I don’t mind . . . but not ask him now until I receive reply.

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K: Okay. Because what we plan to do is this: You get me a reply from Moscow informally.

D: Yes. Then we will discuss with you how to proceed from that reply when it will be.

K: And then you give me an informal indication. Then we will find a low formal level in which to put into effect.

D: Yes. Into . . . And why really you couldn’t think for instance about at least a formal way to present before the Congress about some amendments about trade. I know it is very little chance of any—if any—of giving the Congress a few . . .

K: Anatol, you made an analysis to me the other day.

D: I know, I know this.

K: You know you are free to make your own analyses but I must say that I could see the logic of your argument.

D: Yeah, I understand.

K: And it makes a lot of difference whether we ask for an amendment if you accept it.

D: Yeah, I understand this.

K: Or if we ask for an amendment if you refuse it.

D: Yeah, I understand.

K: And paradoxically it may be easier in one case than another.

D: This is my point. So I am speaking about—

K: Yeah, but I cannot tell you what we will do until you’ve done it.

D: Yeah, I understand.

K: You understand?

D: I understand. But please look about the sentence along the line you mentioned.

K: Yes.

D: Okay.

K: Right.

D: Okay, I will await yours.

K: Right.

D: Okay.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 31, Dobrynin/Kissinger Telcons (1). No classification marking. Brackets are in the original.
  2. January 15.
  3. In a letter to Dobrynin on January 8, Scowcroft forwarded an advance copy of the proposed letter from Ford to Brezhnev. According to marginalia, this package was delivered to the Soviet Embassy at 2 p.m. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, 1975)
  4. In a follow-up letter to Dobrynin on January 8, Scowcroft forwarded a revised last page of the President’s letter, which includes the following inserted sentence: “I want to tell you also that we consider ourselves morally committed to the principles enunciated in 1972, and we will do our utmost to convince the Congress to agree to the practical implementation of those principles.” According to marginalia, this package was delivered to the Soviet Embassy at 8:37 p.m. (Ibid.)