6. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1
- U.S. Policy Toward Peking and Instructions for the February 20 Warsaw Meeting
The Secretary of State has sent you a recommended position and proposed instructions for the February 20 Warsaw meeting with the Chinese Communists.2 I have edited these instructions slightly to remove polemics and in one case to eliminate an implication that we might be prepared to remove our presence from Formosa. The instructions cover a number of continuing problems with Peking, such as the question of Americans held prisoner by the Communists and our desire for an understanding with Peking on assistance and return of astronauts. They also cover a broad range of contingencies that might arise during the Warsaw talks.
The principal issue facing us is the basic posture we should adopt at Warsaw. The attached memorandum (Tab A) discusses the four broad options open to us. As edited, the State Department instructions (Tab B) fall basically within the third option, namely to indicate our willingness to enter into serious negotiations with Peking, make proposals on scientific exchanges, and invite specific proposals from the Chinese.3
Right now, the third option has several advantages: (1) it would cause less concern to the Republic of China, presently very sensitive because Canada and Italy are moving to recognition of Peking; (2) it [Page 11] would reduce the risk that other countries might misinterpret any initiative on our part as marking a fundamental change in China policy in response to, or in connection with, Canadian recognition of Peking; and (3) it avoids prejudging U.S. China policy before the National Security Council undertakes its full dress review in late March.
That you approve the instructions at Tab B.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 700, Country Files, Europe, Poland, Vol. I Warsaw Talks up to 1/31/70. Top Secret; Exdis. This memorandum and the options described in Tab A were taken from a February 11 memorandum from Sneider to Kissinger. (Ibid.) In September and November of 1968, the United States proposed renewing ambassadorial talks between the United States and the PRC that had commenced in Geneva in 1955 and moved to Warsaw in 1957. Talks had been suspended since the 134th meeting on January 8, 1968, and U.S. attempts to restart talks during the spring of 1968 had failed. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXX, Documents 311, 331, and 332.↩
- Rogers forwarded the draft instructions for the February 20 meeting under cover of an undated memorandum and a cable written by Kreisberg and Platt (EA/ACA) on February 3. The instructions had been cleared by Bundy, Brown, and Barnett (EA). Rogers’ covering memorandum and its attachments are also attached but not printed. The Department of State copies of these documents are in National Archives, RG 59, Central Files, 1967–69, POL CHICOM–US.↩
- See footnote 2 above.↩
- President Nixon initialed this option. On February 13 Richard Moose sent a memorandum to the Department of State Executive Secretariat detailing several slight changes to the draft cable. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL CHICOM–US) The instructions were sent on February 15 to Warsaw as telegram 24916. (Ibid.)↩
- The PRC cancelled the meeting on February 18, ostensibly due to the defection of Chinese Chargé d’Affaires Liao Ho-shu (Liao Heshu) in the Netherlands on January 24. See “Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry Information Department Issues Statement,” Beijing Review, February 21, 1969, p. 4. The Department of State documentation on Liao’s defection is in National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 30 CHICOM. Stoessel reported these developments in telegram 427 from Warsaw, February 18. (Ibid.) Stoessel’s report was forwarded to Nixon in the President’s February 18 daily briefing memorandum. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 2, President’s Daily Briefs) INR attributed the cancellation to PRC internal politics rather than the diplomat’s defection: “We regard Peking’s abrupt decision to postpone the 135th meeting as the latest and most striking evidence of disagreement and indecision at the highest levels of the Chinese leadership.” (INR Intelligence Note 102, February 18; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL CHICOM–US) The CIA had reported that “it is unlikely that there will be any change in Chinese Communist position or softening of attitude toward the United States in the upcoming 20 February Warsaw meeting.” (Intelligence Information Cable TDCS–K–314/01387–69, February 10; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 518, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. I) The United States responded to the cancellation on March 12 with a letter to the PRC Embassy in Warsaw, rejecting claims that the United States “engineered” the defection of Liao, and adding that “I am instructed to inform your Government that the United States Government remains ready at an early date to continue the series of Ambassadorial-level meetings between our two governments, either here in Warsaw or elsewhere at a mutually agreeable location.” (Telegram 37867 to Warsaw, March 12; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL CHICOM–US)↩