144. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1
D: Hello Henry. I received the following message from Brezhnev to President Ford. He asked me to go through you. First I will read it and then I could dictate to your secretary.2
D: As it has already been said to the President, immediately after the message of the President of April 193 was received by L.E. Brezhnev we took appropriate steps to get in touch with the Vietnamese side in this connection.
As a result of these contacts now we can inform the President about the following. The position of the Vietnamese side on the question of evacuation of American citizens from South Vietnam is definitely positive. The Vietnamese stated that they have no intention to put any obstacles in the course of military actions to the evacuation of American citizens from South Vietnam and that now in fact favorable conditions have been established for such an evacuation.
At the same time, it was emphasized that in the struggle for achieving a political settlement, the Vietnamese side will proceed from the Paris Agreement. We were also told that the Vietnamese do not intend to damage the prestige of the United States.
Informing the President of the above in a confidential manner, L.E. Brezhnev expresses his hopes that the President will duly appreciate such a position of the Vietnamese side and will not allow any action on the United States’ part which would be fraught with a new exacerbation of the situation in Indochina.
K: What does it mean in practice?
D: There is no obstacle at all to evacuation of United States citizens. None at all and they have established conditions for this particular process and their attitude towards this is positive.
K: Ok.[Page 555]
D: And something on the political side too.
K: Can you explain that? They don’t want to go further than the Paris Accords?
D: The basis for a political settlement is still the Paris Agreement.
K: Would you be prepared to ask them what they mean by that?
D: I would ask them . . .
K: No, let me check with the President first.
D: Would you like me to dictate it?
K: Yes, just a minute.4
- Source: Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations. No classification marking. An excerpt from the transcript was published in Henry Kissinger, Crisis: The Anatomy of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises, pp. 497–498.↩
- A typewritten copy of the message that is nearly identical to the text read by Dobrynin is in National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 91D414, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 15, Misc. Docs, Tels, Etc. 1975 (Folder 6).↩
- Document 143.↩
- During an NSC meeting on Vietnam evacuation in the Cabinet Room at 4:35 p.m., Kissinger briefed the participants on the Soviet message: “This means, in effect, that if we keep the dialogue going we have an assurance against military action as we pull our people out. On the political side, the tripartite arrangement gives us the hope of a coalition solution which can be better than surrender. We will go back to the Soviets to find out what they mean by implementation of the Paris Accords and to say we will cooperate. We will say we won’t take precipitate action and we assume they won’t.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 11)↩