143. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1

K: You and I are going steady.2 We should exchange telephone numbers.

D: That is right. I will give you my Moscow number, 290–2520.

K: I will not ask you what the area code is.

D: It is in Moscow.

K: I have talked to the President about it and do not completely understand it.3 Is this in response to our letter?

D: You do not? It is in connection with our last talk and your draft.

K: I will tell you how we are prepared to work it. We are prepared to agree in principle to separate ABM agreement. At that point they4 would begin discussing what sort of agreement. Simultaneously would discuss freeze.

D: I have to check but …

K: When they begin working on agreement they should talk about freeze.

D: They would discuss how many, etc. I don’t know. It seems to be a little bit in the later stage. They will argue about [how many radars and all the little things.]5 What is your position?

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K: They can start on ABM discussing the number of sites and so on but they must also discuss the freeze practically concurrently.

D: Simultaneously concluded on separate agreement and freezing at the same time.

K: Exactly.

D: I will pass this along to Moscow. I will be there myself on Monday.6 No, I cannot check it tomorrow because it is Saturday and no one will be there. You know it is the first week of the Congress to begin. For me it will be difficult to force members of the government to look at this. I will try to do my best and get an answer for you. I am meeting on Tuesday with Gromyko. Even he is involved with the Congress and lots of guests. You can understand the difficulty that this problem exists.

K: Yes. We are prepared to give instructions to start discussions on ABM—the nature of agreement and how many radars, etc but we must simultaneously discuss the freeze issue.

D: What to discuss. Yes. Freezing, I am just putting some thoughts down…. What kind of freezing. I will send a telegram to my government.

K: Let me ask you as long as we have this conversation. Next part of it. Not many people know about this in our government and we must think of how to get them started. It can be done in two ways. By an exchange of letters. The other is that the President at a press conference could respond to a question along the lines of, Do you still believe in the link between offensive and defensive weapons? Then he says something like, I am willing to make an agreement as long as freezing is in it. You could say through TASS that is a good idea.

D: I don’t know. Yes I know you are giving an example.

K: This way we could get it into a formal channel.

D: Agreement on basis which you propose. It was our thinking I gave you on discussion after an agreement except for freezing. Do you have my note to you?

K: The one you gave me this afternoon. Yes. I have it.

D: … details that the negotiators will discuss simultaneously with the conclusion of the agreement.

K: With the conclusion—no that is a little late for the discussion. With the beginning of the drafting of the agreement.

D: It is very difficult to put in drafting [that we discuss freeze] from very beginning.

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K: Will be discussed prior to ABM agreement?

D: Discussion of the details will be discussed simultaneously with the conclusion of the agreement.

K: That would be fine. See how easy I am to get along with. The discussion of the details will be discussed simultaneously with the conclusion of an agreement on ABM systems. Yes. Something like that would go.

D: I will transmit this to Moscow.

K: The President could make the statement in a press conference—similar to the letter.

D: I understand. You could reply with what you just have given me.

K: … notification … immediately instruct my delegation to—

D: I could not give yes or no now on this. Just got it clearly to present your point of view to Moscow. The point of view of the President.

K: We will receive any counter proposals. That is no problem.

D: Major point is how to formulate this.

K: That formulation. The one you gave me.

D: You mean the one you gave me.

K: You are a good draftsman. You win every one of our discussions.

D: Everyone called you doctor. I could not get a doctors degree in 10 years. I would have to write a book and—

K: The trouble you have is that if you write a book everyone will be able to understand it.

D: You must give me degree of doctor.

K: When I am back in academic life I will see what I can do for you.

D: I will tell my government but you must understand it might take time.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 78, Country Files, Europe, USSR, SALT. No classification marking. Kissinger was in San Clemente, California; Dobrynin was in Washington.
  2. When Kissinger met Dobrynin on March 22, according to a memorandum of their conversation, he asked the Soviet Ambassador whether he had received an answer to the latest U.S. proposal (see Document 142). Dobrynin explained that the delay in a reply stemmed from the complexity of the Soviet bureaucracy, and Kissinger insisted that the United States needed “to make some fundamental decisions between April 15 and May 1.” (Ibid., President’s Trip Files, Box 491, Kissinger/Dobrynin, 1971, Vol. 5 [Part 1]).
  3. At 4:10 p.m. on March 26 Dobrynin sent Kissinger the following note: “The Soviet side considers acceptable in principle the idea of ‘freezing’ strategic offensive weapons, having in mind that details will be discussed after an agreement on ABM systems limitation has been reached. As regards an ABM agreement, our position is well-known: we are for a separate agreement on ABM, but on equal terms without giving any advantages to either of the sides.” Kissinger wrote the following note on the Soviet reply: “discussion of details will be concluded simultaneously with the conclusion of agreement on ABM limitation.” (Ibid., Box 497, Exchange of Notes Between Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 1 [Part 2])
  4. Reference is to the Soviet and U.S. SALT Delegations.
  5. All brackets are in the original.
  6. March 29.