111. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1

K: Here is what we will do. In deference to the message which you have sent us2 we will not go to the SC tonight though it originally was to go at 6:00 o’clock. We will wait for a decision on how to proceed until 9:00 tomorrow.

D: In the morning.

K: Yes. Give you a chance to go to church. If you could get me an answer from Moscow which is a little more specific than this.

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D: On what.

K: What exactly are your intentions. My impression is—I understand you don’t want to get into a public disassociation.

D: I will put it quite friendly. We are rather in a difficult position publicly.

K: If you can give us some indication what you are doing privately. You and I have handled these things private. We are interested in the results. We want a ceasefire and status quo ante. I repeat by Tuesday3 you will be asking us. It is not a question in which we are asking for a favor. We are trying to prevent an exacerbation of our relationship. A situation where in this country and the Congress will have very serious consequences. If you tell us you are working with the Egyptians and the Syrians and by Monday morning this will be over and no further debate is necessary.

If you will tell us that you believe that by Monday morning that there is in effect a ceasefire and return to the status quo ante. We don’t want this to become a public affair. Tell us something we can understand. It will be kept confidential as everything has been kept between us. I am not asking for you to agree for concerted publication. I am asking you tomorrow morning for a concerted practical action. That will lead to the result we want. I genuinely believe and you will tell Gromyko and Brezhnev by Tuesday at the latest the situation will be a different show. Right, no?

D: I understand.

K: Our reading of the situation is that the Arab attack has been totally contained, that now they are going to be pushed back and this process will accelerate as the mobilization is completed which will be no later than Monday morning and after that we will see what we have seen before. This is our military reading of the situation. We think if the matter could be wound up tomorrow. The Arabs have proved their point. They have attacked across the Canal. They can withdraw on their own and return to the status quo. We can both enjoy a good SC debate.

D: I don’t understand in a political sense what do you think. What do you want? From our point of view our position which is a principle from the beginning of ’67.

K: I know your position.

D: It is not a public debate that I am telling you for us to tell the Arabs is very difficult. I had rather hear from Moscow but as I understand our position the difficulties we are now facing is that the Arabs [Page 320]are trying to regain the lands occupied by Israel. They have been using that argument to us and for us to tell them you cannot free your land, it is ridiculous.

K: I recognize the situation. I am not saying it is all easy. We have a different situation. There have not been any raids on Damascus and Cairo but I would not bet anything on tomorrow.

D: I understand.

K: Is it possible for the Politburo to imagine a complete course of action which we agree on privately.

D: What course of action do you propose besides SC.

K: A de facto return to the status quo ante, a de facto return of the ceasefire. I have already told the Egyptians that I would make an effort after the Israeli election. I have told Gromyko I would talk to him in January. None of this we will do if these pressures continue.

D: I understand.

K: We have a framework out of which we could crystallize. The Arabs have now proved their point.

D: Henry, how could they?

K: You see they are going to lose. It is not a case where we are asking. Not like India and Pakistan.

D: I understand. The military point of view. I cannot argue with you. You know the situation better. I am trying to understand the situation better politically. Million or half a million.

K: They have next to nothing.

D: What is the question—asking them to return somewhere if they have nothing.

K: We have two choices; we can let this war continue until the exact calibrated moment when the Israelis have pushed out of every territory but before they start heading for Damascus. If we are lucky and hit that moment exactly right we can hit the ceasefire then. Probability is that the Arabs can hold on another 24 hours and then going to retreat to their capital and wait for winter.

D: I understand what the situation really is. But for us to go to the Arabs and say look here I don’t know how many you have, one—one or two miles, but you have to go back. They say you invite us to give back territory that belongs to us.

K: Can you not say that it was your understanding that an effort was going to be made for negotiations. They have proved their point of the urgency in which they see this and this is a good psychological moment for them to make a generous gesture rather than wait until the outcome of these hostilities. By Monday evening they will be flown out of there anyway.

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D: I understand.

K: This is a new strategy of using the threat of one’s own defeat.

D: I know. There are many that could be said. The question is from the practical way. From a practical point of view because they put on us all the cats and dogs. On the Russians because we asked them to give back land which we have already said . . .

K: I understand your dilemma.

D: They will say you are in collusion with the US and Israelis.

K: Who will be the first.

D: Cairo. From a man you met. The Russians were in collusion with the US and (unable to understand).

K: If you and we could find a way of settling this now then it would be an overwhelming argument in all of the things we have been going through as to what the practical consequences have been of our relationship.

D: I understand.

K: I think it would overwhelm in one blow all of these things we have been facing. If it goes the other way and Monday you and we are going to be up at the rostrum calling each other names. It will be a disaster

D: I can assure you we will not be calling the US names. I am not sure what the Israelis will be calling.

K: You know some of the local people cannot always distinguish those two.

D: We will try to put them out of the country on this particular American line. You understand?

K: I understand.

D: This we could take care of.

K: It still would not change the objective condition. The various people who are harassing you will be more inflamed.

D: I know. That is why I keep returning to the practical thing. You understand.

K: I understand it.

D: They would say you have spoken of liberating. It is impossible for us.

K: I think directed against both of us.

D: For us to tell Sadat make a communiqué.

K: Anatol, with all due respect, we will face this problem somewhere in the next 48 hours. Suppose you do nothing and we do nothing by Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest the Arabs will be defeated unless our estimates are wrong. At that point what are we going to do.

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D: Did you approach once more the Egyptians.

K: No. You think I should.

D: I think you should. Tell them your estimate. Otherwise it would be such an invitation. You are and we their friends are saying go back from your own land.

K: I will approach them tonight and I will call you after I have talked to them.4

D: I think it would be much better. From us, it would look like we are trying to sell them out.

K: We have to leave it at this. We will not go to the SC tonight to give ourselves a chance to think. You think and we will think. Try to get me an expression from Moscow by 8:00 in the morning.

D: Ask for 9:00. That is 5:00.

K: Tell them they will have to go to early mass.

D: They would find it strange to have these kind of discussions going on over the weekend.

K: I can imagine what kind of discussion is going on there. I understand the are very happy today.

D: This is a basic problem. I also understand your ingenuity.

K: If I have any ideas I will call you.

D: Not at night. I go to sleep quite early.

K: You are not going to bed now, are you.

D: No.

K: What you have to understand is if it turns into a propaganda battle on Monday in the GA, then our only protection is to be extremely tough and to teach the facts of life to people who like to make great speeches and we will see what is more important—a speech or reality. I will be very brutal. That will be our strategy. We want to get it settled before then at least with an understanding.

D: As from the US no particular attempt from our side.

K: Anatol, in the GA it will be a bloody mess. Nobody can control it.

D: You are right.

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K: It is going to be a blood bath.

D: It is true.

K: Then your allies are going to get up there and you will have to do as well as they.

D: As to speaking about allies I read you were going to build a pipeline.

K: A pipeline.

D: I mean your Asian friends.

K: I am saying the GA will be a mess. Why don’t you report this to Gromyko.

D: You keep in mind what I mentioned to you. About asking them to withdraw from what is theirs.

K: I understand that problem. Maybe there is some formula we can both think about. Let’s not let time slip by. I believe the military will rapidly deteriorate and we will be in a mess.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22. No classification marking. Blank underscores are omissions in the original.
  2. See Document 110.
  3. October 9.
  4. Kissinger telephoned Zayyat at 8:48 p.m. to “touch base at the end of a hectic day.” Kissinger gave Zayyat his estimate of the outcome of the fighting and told him “we would like to have this thing wound up in a way that does not make it more difficult to resume what I thought was a beginning of a better possibility of a discussion.” Zayyat denied that he wanted a debate in the General Assembly. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22) At 9:10 p.m., Kissinger telephoned Dobrynin to give him the gist of his talk with Zayyat. (Ibid.) The transcript of the conversation with Zayyat is printed in Kissinger, Crisis, pp. 76–81.
  5. At 8:20 p.m., Kissinger telephoned Dobrynin and said he had talked again to the President, who asked him to call the Ambassador to reaffirm personally that he supported everything Kissinger had said and that the United States would wait another 12 hours. (Ibid.) Kissinger telephoned again at 11 p.m. to reiterate that Nixon had agreed that they would wait until 9 a.m. the next day. He noted that they had not yet decided whether to ask for a Security Council meeting, but they had decided to do something. (Ibid.)