164. Editorial Note

President Richard Nixon, having completed the first three legs of his trip with a visit to Salzburg, the Moscow summit, and a visit to Iran, flew from Tehran to Warsaw on May 31, 1972. After the President and his entourage were greeted at the airport by Henryk Jablonski, Chairman of the Polish Council of State, and Premier Piotr Jaroszewicz, the President proceeded in a motorcade to the center of Warsaw to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Of great concern to the Presidentʼs White House staff had been the size of his potential reception in Warsaw. On May 4, H.R. Haldeman wrote to Herbert Klein, William Safire, John Scali, and Ronald Ziegler: “The four of you should be aware that it is going to be virtually impossible to insure a reception in Poland which can equal the spontaneous reception the President received in 1959…. You should develop a plan for tempering any talk or discussion of big crowds in Poland. If we do end up with sizeable crowds we will be in a position to say that they were larger than we expected. Conversely, if we end up with small crowds, we will be in a position to say, ‘We told you so’.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, Dwight L. Chapin, Chronological, Box 16) On the day before his entourageʼs arrival in Poland, May 30, Nixon had instructed Haldeman that “he wanted to be sure we find a way to get to the people when we get to Poland—and to use Brennan out in front, to use the Secret Service, and get the Polish police out of the way.” On May 31 Haldeman noted in his diary: “Arrival there [in Poland] was not as big as we thought it might be, but very big crowds [were] on the streets, and they surprisingly allowed them up pretty close. They didnʼt get quite as emotional as they apparently had in ‘59, but they were friendly, wanted to wave, and we did an extremely effective job of running the motorcade up through the planned part… He [the President] then got out and was completely engulfed by Poles. They started shouting ‘Neek-son, Neek-son, Neek-son’…It all got quite emotional and was extremely impressive.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)

After the wreath-laying, Nixon met with Polandʼs Communist leader, Edward Gierek, at the Polish Parliament for one-on-one talks. The President spoke with Gierek alone, accompanied only by a Polish interpreter. Haldeman wrote in his diary: “[O]ur interpreter, supplied by State, was apparently no good, as a number of the Poles told me, so we had to change and used a Polish interpreter for the dinner, and weʼll use him for the rest of the activities here.” (Ibid.) On the same day, Secretary of State William Rogers, also in Warsaw, signed a consular convention between the United States and Poland. Later in the [Page 392] evening, President and Mrs. Nixon attended a state dinner in their honor. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Presidentʼs Daily Diary)

The following day Nixon met with Gierek at the latterʼs office at the Polish Sejm at 10:05 a.m. for a second round of talks. This time, the two leaders were accompanied by Jaroszewicz and Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger (see Document 165). At 10:45, a second meeting took place between the entire Polish and U.S. delegations at Jaroszewiczʼs office at the Council of Ministers (see Document 166). After hosting a luncheon for Polandʼs leaders at Wilanow Palace, the President and Mrs. Nixon, along with their entourage, flew home. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Presidentʼs Daily Diary)

In a joint U.S.-Polish communiqué, the two sides expressed their support for MBFR and a “carefully prepared” conference on European security. They also “expressed their interest in the conclusion of an intergovernmental agreement on comprehensive cooperation in science, technology, and culture” and announced their expectation that they would “sign in the near future an air transport agreement” and “establish mutual and regular air conventions.” (Department of State Bulletin, June 26, 1972, pages 914–915) With regard to scientific cooperation, see Document 175. On July 19 Poland and the United States signed a bilateral Air Transport Agreement. For the text of the agreement, see 23 UST 4269.

For the text of the Presidentʼs public remarks during his visit to Poland, along with the joint communiqué issued at the conclusion of the talks, see Department of State Bulletin, June 26, 1972, pages 909–915.