178. Editorial Note

On July 15, 1971, President Nixon announced that he had accepted an invitation to visit the People’s Republic of China. His televised announcement, which was simultaneously issued in Beijing, stated that “Premier Chou En-lai and Dr. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, held talks in Peking from July 9 to 11, 1971. Knowing of President Nixon’s expressed desire to visit the People’s Republic of China, Premier Chou En-lai, on behalf of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, has extended an invitation to President Nixon to visit China at an appropriate date before May [Page 562] 1972. President Nixon has accepted the invitation with pleasure.” (Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pages 819–820)

Kissinger sought to assuage Soviet concerns about implications for a U.S.-Soviet summit or a strategic arms limitation agreement by passing a note to Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin through Richard Kennedy at 9:15 p.m. on July 15 that assured “the announcement is not directed against any countries as the President pointed out in his accompanying statement. Any reversal of recent positive trends would, of course, have serious results for both countries.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7 [Part 2])

On July 19 at 1 p.m. Kissinger met with Dobrynin to hear his reaction to Nixon’s July 15 announcement. According to a memorandum of conversation prepared by Winston Lord and Peter Rodman of the National Security Council staff, the only reference to SALT during Kissinger and Dobrynin’s conversation was a mutual expression that the talks were “going according to program, so it was a pity if there were any misunderstanding.” (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 288.