73. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Secretary of State Rogers 1


  • Higher-Level Meeting with the Chinese Communists

The President has carefully reviewed your memorandum to him of March 10, 19702 on the considerations which you proposed relative to a higher-level meeting with the Chinese Communists in Peking. He agrees with you that it would be desirable to establish the existence of common ground between our respective positions before going from the Ambassadorial level to a higher level in our talks with the Chinese. At the same time, however, he believes that it is important for us to preserve the positive approach to the question of raising the level of the talks, and to avoid suggesting to the Chinese that we are drawing back from the proposal for the meeting at a higher level which we ourselves offered at the January 20 Ambassadorial-level meeting in Warsaw.

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Accordingly, the President has directed that Ambassador Stoessel, at the next meeting in Warsaw, present our position on seeking common ground in positive terms so that our intention to proceed at the higher level is fully affirmed.3 In addition, to underscore the positive nature of our approach, the President directs that at the next Warsaw meeting we propose opening discussions on the modalities which would apply for a higher-level meeting in Peking, e.g. diplomatic immunities, secure communications, etc.

Finally, the President has directed that in our next Warsaw presentation we pick up the reference made by the Chinese Chargé at the last meeting to his country’s willingness to sit down with the U.S. to discuss the question of relaxing tensions in the Far East, and indicate that we would be interested in hearing the Chinese views on this matter.

In view of the time factor raised by the visit of GRC Vice Premierm Chiang Ching-Kuo to Washington on April 21–23, the next Ambassadorial-level meeting should be set for the week of March 23–27, or as soon thereafter as possible depending on the Chinese response to the date which we propose.4

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOMUS. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Document 72.
  3. In a March 13 telephone conversation with Kissinger, Nixon stated: “I was thinking about the Chinese thing. Did they offer to conduct talks in Warsaw? I want talks in Peking. I do not agree with idea that it is just a question of timing. I suggest they tell them in essence we agree. Who is in charge of that? Tell them that the President has decided that and that we do it. I want to be sure they don’t screw it up.” Kissinger replied, “We have to clear every speech they make.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 361, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  4. Instructions for subsequent Warsaw talks were held up until May 17 due to uncertainty over the date of the next meeting. See Document 80. Various iterations of instructions to Warsaw during February–June 1970 are in National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOMUS, and ibid., S/P Files: Lot 77 D 112, Policy Planning Staff, Director’s Files, Winston Lord Chronology.