123. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Henry A. Kissinger and Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

Summit: I then raised the Semenov conversation with Smith in which Semenov allegedly remarked that this would be a hot, political summer, and that SALT would have to mark time while the principals were negotiating.2 I wanted Dobrynin to understand that Smith did not know about our Summit discussions and that I really had to be sure Soviet diplomats would not speak to other Americans about the content of our conversations. Dobrynin replied that he had read Semenov’s reporting cable and it contained no such references. He wondered whether Smith might have made it up. I said it seemed unlikely since it was too circumstantial. But whether or not it happened exactly as reported by either side, special care should be taken that our channel would not be played back into any American net.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

SALT . On SALT, he said if we didn’t like their proposal, maybe I could offer some compromise; but the major concern was to have some progress. Then, the Summit meeting in September would make real sense. I pointed out that it was essential, however, that we keep our channels straight. I had to tell him in all candor that when we proposed a Summit meeting in the summer and then never received an answer for six weeks, that this made an extremely painful impression in Washington. Dobrynin commented that this was based on a misunderstanding [Page 385] and that they had never grasped we had made a concrete proposal. (This remark, of course, was patently absurd because when he came back from the Soviet Union, he gave an answer to the concrete proposal.)

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 490, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Vol. 3. Top Secret; Sensitive. The conversation took place in the Map Room at the White House during a 3½-hour luncheon. Kissinger summarized the conversation in an undated memorandum to Nixon. A notation on the summary indicates that Nixon saw it. (Ibid.) The full text of the memorandum of conversation is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIII, Soviet Union, October 1970–September 1971, Document 74.
  2. In backchannel message 90 to Kissinger, December 16, Smith reported the following: “In the December 16 post-plenary, while talking about the effect of a March 15th resumption in Vienna and in answer to my question as to whether such a relatively late start reflected a change in previously expressed Semenov interest in adjusting the phasing of our talks to permit a summer session in Helsinki, Semenov cryptically said that summers can sometimes be a hot time of year ‘politically.’” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1971, SALT)