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[Page 152]

53. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Memorandum from Secretary Rogers on Handling of Warsaw Talks2

Secretary Rogers has sent you the memorandum attached at Tab A, reporting that he looked into the question of the wide dissemination given to our Warsaw contact with the Communist Chinese.3 He reports that our Embassies in Tokyo, Taipei, and Moscow, and our Consulate General in Hong Kong were kept informed because of their special interest in the matter, but under the same injunctions about public comment as were placed on the Department’s spokesman in [Page 153]Washington. (This was to limit comments on the substance of the meeting to the statement that “matters of mutual interest” were discussed.)

State informed the Governments of the Republic of China and Japan in advance of the meeting in general terms. The Secretary says that President Chiang was informed as a matter of necessary courtesy, and Prime Minister Sato was notified in order to work out with him the best means of handling public comment after the meeting became public knowledge. In fact, the Secretary says, there was no leak in either capital.

In addition, the Governments of Australia and the U.K. were briefed in confidence along the same lines very shortly before the announcement. Canada, France, Italy, and New Zealand were similarly briefed after the meeting.

The Chairman of the SALT delegation was notified on an eyes only basis that the meeting would take place. The State Department disagreed with his suggestion that the Soviets be informed in advance.

VOA and the Voice of the United Nations Command were instructed not to relay speculative comment appearing in the press, but to stick only to official statements on the subject.

The Secretary argues that despite these instructions, it has been impossible to stop public speculation and public conclusions as to the probable content of the talks. The report of Reuters that the Department spokesman said that resumption of talks had been discussed is simply untrue and is being taken up with Reuters. The Secretary notes that he will continue to clear all cables on the subject with the White House.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 700, Country Files, Europe, Poland, Vol. I Warsaw Talks up to 1/31/70. Secret; Nodis; Eyes Only. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. In early December, based on instructions he had received at his September 9 meeting with the President and Kissinger (see Document 31), Stoessel approached the interpreter for the Chinese Chargé at a diplomatic reception organized by the Yugoslav Government and commented that President Nixon wished to open “serious, concrete talks with Chinese.” (Telegram 3706 from Warsaw, December 3; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–8 US) On December 10 the Chinese Embassy telephoned the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to suggest a meeting be held the next day. (Telegram 3744 from Warsaw, December 10; ibid., POL CHICOMUS) On December 11 Stoessel went to the Chargé’s residence (the Chinese Ambassador to Poland was not in the country), where he told Chargé Lei Yang that the meeting “provides an opportunity to begin exploring whether some improvement in our bilateral relationship may be possible.” He suggested a formal meeting for the week of January 12–16, that Chinese and English be the languages used for the talks, and that they alternate between embassies rather than meeting in a “neutral” Polish venue. He also made clear that the United States was open to moving the talks to another city. (Telegram 3760 from Warsaw, December 11; ibid.) The President was informed of each step by Kissinger through the daily briefing memoranda. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Boxes 15 and 16, President’s Daily Briefs)
  3. Attached at Tab A was a December 18 memorandum from Rogers to Nixon, responding to Nixon’s concerns about “wide dissemination of the Warsaw contact.” (Ibid., Box 700, Country Files, Europe, Poland, Vol. I Warsaw Talks up to 1/31/70) Kissinger had relayed the President’s concerns to the Department of State and ordered that all telegrams on the Warsaw talks and “all public statements, press releases or references” to the talks or relations between the United States and PRC be cleared by the White House, and that “there should be no explanation to the Soviets with respect to our talks with the Chicoms nor should there be any speculation as to their reaction to these talks.” (Memorandum from Kissinger to Eliot, undated; ibid.) In a December 15 telephone conversation. Kissinger told Richardson that “I thought, and so did the President more so, that the Warsaw talk was handled very poorly from that point of view. We spent months setting it up and it gets buck-slipped to half the embassies in the whole world. The less we say the better off we are.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Richardson Papers, Box 104, Under Secretary of State, Telephone Conversations, December 1969)