246. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff
  • Huang Hua, PRC Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Shih Yen-hua, Interpreter
  • Mr. Kuo, Notetaker

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Ambassador, you are getting no vacation at all.

Ambassador Huang: It will come after the summer.

Dr. Kissinger: I would like to have you tired for the General Assembly. Your Delegation has not been selected yet?

Ambassador Huang: It has not yet been finally decided.

Dr. Kissinger: I wanted to see you because I am going away tomorrow, and I have a number of items. They are not of world-shaking importance. Since I won’t be able to see you for several weeks, I wanted to bring you up to date. I am going to Miami tomorrow; from there to San Clemente and from there to Hawaii for the meeting with the Japanese; and I will be back in Washington on September 4. All of your other contacts will be either on leave or with me in San Clemente. If you have any message to deliver, you should call the White House operator; that is connected with me in San Clemente. Mr. Lord and Mr. Rodman will be with me there. We will then arrange to pick up any message. We will send somebody up from Washington, and we have very good communications. So you do not have to hold up the delivery of any message.

So much on the technical side. I wanted to tell you about my Japanese visit and where we stand on this proposal with the Soviet Union. Before that I want to tell you something else.

When we were in Moscow for the Summit, it was agreed between the President and the Soviet leadership that some months after the Summit I would go back there for a general review of the situation, just as I did in Peking. The Soviets have been urging this meeting, and we have now accepted it for the period September 10 through 13. We will make this announcement on September 5. (He hands over the text [Page 1044] of the draft announcement at Tab A.)2 And we agreed on this only today. No other government knows about this, and therefore we ask you to treat this with your customary discretion.

There will not be any significant decisions taken there. We will have some further discussions on economic problems, on preparations for the European Security Conference, and we will probably delay our answer to this nuclear treaty proposal until then.

Ambassador Huang: When you are in Moscow you will give them a reply?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we will tell you ahead of time. I will plan to see you either on September 5 or 6 before I leave. And I will give you a detailed agenda of what we plan to discuss. It is not worked out yet, but we do not foresee any new major departures. We will do as in the past, and I don’t think you have ever had any surprises on our dealings with the Soviet Union.

With respect to the nuclear treaty, we gave you the text last time.3 I can tell you that we cannot accept a treaty and cannot accept a reciprocal obligation not to use nuclear weapons or anything that defines specific obligations for the nuclear superpowers. What are we exploring, within our own government, is whether we can find a general formula which constitutes what you told me about the general abstention by all countries from using nuclear weapons. But we have not made a decision, and we will show you our specific answer before we deliver it. But it will not be in treaty form. (Ambassador Huang taps his hands on his knee.) I can assure you now there will be no treaty and no reciprocal obligation.

Now with respect to my trip to Japan. As you will find out when you deal with the Japanese seriously, you will read everything in the newspapers, including things you did not say. (Ambassador Huang smiles.) So I wanted to tell you what our attitude is, and what I told them.

[Page 1045]

First—I did not tell this to them, but I wanted you to know—we appreciated the Prime Minister’s message to us with respect to U.S.–Japanese relations. Based on this, we told them that we had no objection to an early visit by the Japanese Prime Minister to Peking at a time which is mutually convenient to the Chinese Government and to the Japanese Government. Specifically, we have no objection to their visiting Peking during the American election period. There is some advantage in their beginning to talk simultaneously, or before they start talking to the Soviet Union about their peace treaty.

The other subject discussed concerns bilateral U.S.-Japanese relations in the economic field and are of no direct relevance to your relationship with us.

On my way to Russia, I will stop in Munich and on September 8 or 9 I will meet with Chancellor Brandt and also with the leader of the Christian Democratic Party, Barzel. I will talk to both of them in the sense I previously indicated to you.

As a subsidiary issue, when I was in Peking I was asked about the listing of the Shanghai earth station and the Taipei station in the Intelsat directory. We have now arranged it so that next time the directory appears it will be listed as you requested. But we have to do this indirectly, and we will not tell it to the Ambassador from Taiwan until a few days before it happens. So it might be useful if you made no further formal efforts until we have it accomplished.

Ambassador Huang: At what time will this take place?

Dr. Kissinger: I will let you know. I will have Mr. Lord call you, just to say the time period is two months, one month, or whatever. My recollection is that they appear every two months, but I may be wrong. But it is not a long time anyway.

One word about my Paris meeting, simply for the information of the Prime Minister without any request for action. The North Vietnamese have made a ten point proposal to us now of which we have accepted nine in principle, and we are trying to find a formulation for the political proposal which would cover neutral ground between our two positions. They are in the position that they would like to present the impression of stalemate in order to maximize pressure on us at home. They would like to make progress in private meetings and continue to lacerate us in public meetings. (Ambassador Huang smiles.)

I am sure you will understand that there is a limitation beyond which this cannot go. And the great danger is that they will once again miss the opportunity for a favorable settlement. After we have presented our new proposal, we will let you have it for your information. But I wanted the Prime Minister to know that we are very serious about finding a solution on a just basis.

[Page 1046]

The only other item I have concerns Senator Mansfield. You remember I mentioned to you some weeks ago his desire to come to China again. Can he submit a formal letter or how should we handle it? (Pause.) Perhaps you can let me know about this.

Ambassador Huang: We haven’t gotten any reply from our government yet.

Dr. Kissinger: Perhaps you could…4

Ambassador Huang: So he still intends to leave on election day? That is what you told us last time.

Dr. Kissinger: If you make the condition that he can come only if he votes Republican or doesn’t vote at all. (Laughter.) But I don’t think we need his vote. (Laughter.)

Ambassador Huang: I won’t interfere in your internal affairs.

Dr. Kissinger: I wish your allies to the south of you adopted the same policy.

These are all the items that I have.

Ambassador Huang: Well about Mr. Mansfield’s visit to China, we will make some inquiries. How do we communicate the answer to you?

Dr. Kissinger: Then we will send somebody here. He will only be authorized to receive messages. He will not be able to discuss them with you.

Ambassador Huang: Well, you have talked about the treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union on the non-use of nuclear weapons, and you mentioned that you would not accept to sign the treaty; neither would you accept a reciprocal obligation on nuclear weapons.

Dr. Kissinger: Nor will we sign a treaty on any formulation.

Ambassador Huang: You talked about the non-use of nuclear weapons, but you didn’t mention in your formulation your attitude toward other questions, such as non-nuclear countries and non-nuclear zones.

Dr. Kissinger: The only thing … We are against the use of nuclear weapons by nuclear countries against non-nuclear countries. We will not make an agreement with the Soviet Union to establish non-nuclear zones. In any event, I will not make any agreements in Moscow. I will come back here, and we will have a chance to discuss them. But our intention is to make a negative answer in a non-insulting form.

Mrs. Shih: What?

Dr. Kissinger: In a form that is not offending, and to turn it into something quite different. (Ambassador Huang and Mrs. Shih discuss in Chinese.)

[Page 1047]

Ambassador Huang: Do you have a suggestion in what channel we should discuss the visit of Senator Mansfield—at Paris or elsewhere?

Dr. Kissinger: If you let me know in principle what your reaction is, then perhaps we should let him write a letter to Paris. But it would be better not to let him write a letter unless we know the answer will be positive.

Ambassador Huang: Yes. I understand this.

Dr. Kissinger: To get back to the nuclear treaty for a minute. Our approach is not to make it significant, but to make it insignificant. And not to express a specific position for two countries, but to speak of a general set of principles for all countries—if we can find [a formulation] at all.5 Nor will we move with extraordinary speed. And we will show you once we have agreed among ourselves, once we have developed an answer, we will discuss it with you. But now there is not much that will happen until September 10, and then there will only be a general discussion.

Ambassador Huang: Today I don’t have any message to convey to you. I will immediately convey what you said to the Prime Minister.

Dr. Kissinger: I will see you either on September 5 or 6, and then again within a day or two of my return from Moscow. And you will remember that this trip is not going to be announced until September 5.

Ambassador Huang: Yesterday we received a call from General Haig concerning the press story in Miami.6 What was the news?

Dr. Kissinger: Secretary Rogers delivered himself of various opinions on the Vietnamese war, one of which was that he thought the Chinese Government also favored a negotiated settlement. Normally, when one says a statement is not authorized, it is not believed. We wanted you to know that we were surprised by the statement, and it won’t be repeated.

Ambassador Huang: It was not authorized?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. Sometimes our people get carried away with enthusiasm, which is not true for your foreign service. We have no intention of embarrassing you. At any rate it will not happen again. The press didn’t cover it widely. I didn’t see it in any newspapers. (To Mr. Kuo): Did you see it in the papers?

[Page 1048]

Mr. Kuo: Yes, I saw it in the Washington Post. Also the Christian Science Monitor. There was no New York Times today. They are on strike.

Dr. Kissinger: I read the morning paper in the evening. I have a special perspective, that is only to find out which of my associates have leaked what to the press. (Laughter.)

(The meeting then broke up. Mr. Lord gave Mrs. Shih the White House switchboard number and explained the procedure; she confirmed that she already had this White House number. Mr. Lord also gave her a copy of a letter from Bob Hope to the PRC Ambassador in Ottawa, Canada, asking for assistance in filming scenes of China for television shows. Mr. Lord explained that this was not an official government request, but only a courtesy. The U.S. Government did not take a position on the matter, but would appreciate Mr. Hope’s receiving a personal reply.)7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 850, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. Attached but not printed is a note entitled “Visit of Dr. Henry A. Kissinger to Moscow,” which reads in its entirety: “In accordance with a previous agreement, Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Affairs, will visit the Soviet Union between September 10 to 13 for an exchange of opinions on matters of mutual interest to the Soviet Union and the United States.”
  3. On August 14 Howe traveled to New York to deliver the following message to Huang Hua: “1. The U.S. side has considered carefully the Chinese comments, conveyed on August 4, 1972, concerning the Soviet proposal for an agreement on nuclear weapons. Enclosed for the confidential information of the Chinese side is a copy of the text of the recent Soviet proposal. The U.S. side will not accept this proposal. It will fully inform the Chinese side of the U.S. response which will certainly reflect all the considerations raised by the Chinese.” Attached to this was a draft treaty on the “non-use of nuclear weapons.” The note also discussed Kissinger’s forthcoming trip to Saigon and Tokyo. (Memorandum of conversation and message for the PRC, August 14; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 850, President’s Files—China Trip, China Exchanges) At this meeting Ambassador Huang Hua read a statement on Sino–German relations, Sino–Japanese relations, and the Soviet–American nuclear treaty. (Ibid.) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 151.
  4. All ellipses are in the source text.
  5. Brackets in the source text.
  6. Reference is to statements by Rogers (originally reported in the Miami Herald) that both the PRC and Soviet Union favored a negotiated settlement in Vietnam. The White House quickly disavowed Rogers’ prediction of a rapid settlement with Chinese or Soviet backing. See Hedley Burrell, “Rogers Predicts Peace Near Election,” Washington Post, August 21, 1972, p. 1, 20.
  7. Attached but not printed is an August 17 note from American entertainer Bob Hope to Kissinger, to which Hope attached a letter intended for the PRC Ambassador in Canada.