Learn about the beta
[Page 230]

90. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Dr. Kissinger
  • Mr. Sainteny

[Omitted here is discussion concerning Vietnam and Cambodia.]

Communist China

Mr. Sainteny said that he frequently saw the Communist Chinese Ambassador in Paris, Huang Chen. Dr. Kissinger said that we had tried to have conversations with the Chinese but that they seemed to get nowhere, even though we have no basic problems with the Chinese.

Dr. Kissinger asked if Mr. Sainteny could set up a channel with Huang Chen. Our other channels were not satisfactory, and the one in Warsaw was much too much in the public (and the Soviet) view.

Mr. Sainteny said that he would try to arrange something. He was a little concerned because he did not speak Chinese, and whenever he talked with Huang Chen it was through an interpreter. The latter, of course, was an intelligence officer. However, Mr. Sainteny thought he might be able to arrange a channel through an associate who spoke Chinese and who, he thought, could speak to Chen privately. Mr. Sainteny said he would write to Mr. Smyser to let Dr. Kissinger know what happened.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1031, Files for the President—China Material, Exchanges Leading up to HAK’s Trip to China, December 1969–July 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The meeting was held in Jean Sainteny’s Paris apartment. Sainteny was a French banker and political figure. He served as a source of information and contacts with the Vietnamese. He had served in French Indochina as Commissioner, 1945–1947; Governor of the Colonies, 1946; and Delegate General to North Vietnam, 1954–1958.
  2. A November 7 memorandum from Smyser to Kissinger passed along a translation of a November 3 letter from Sainteny. Smyser observed: “I note that he appears to have taken a long time to obtain rather basic information [on PRC diplomats in France] and that he does not refer to the interpreter problem he cited in our conversation. So I do not really know what to make of it. Maybe Jean first checked with his government. In any case, I stand ready to transmit a reply on my personal stationery.” An attached note from Haig ordered Smyser to prepare a letter for Kissinger’s signature; see Document 119. Copies of the Smyser memorandum, Sainteny letter, and Haig’s note are in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1031, Files for the President—China Material, Exchanges Leading up to HAK’s Trip to China, December 1969–July 1971.