55. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
  • Dr. Laurence E. Lynn

I met Dobrynin in the Military Aide’s Office at the White House at 3:00 p.m. The meeting had come about because during our last conversation2 Dobrynin had indicated some doubt about the relationship between the Safeguard components for area defense and the Safeguard components of point defense, and I told him that I would give him a briefing explaining the difference.

I took Larry Lynn of my staff along. We talked briefly about the problem of area defense and of point defense, the various types of missiles that were necessary for both, and why the area defense we were planning was not a threat to the Soviet Union. It was clear, however, that Dobrynin was not interested in that. He asked a few perfunctory questions which, incidentally, showed that he had studied the subject very carefully. He then said that he wanted to talk to me alone.

He made the following points:

I. SALT. Dobrynin said he had been asked by the Soviet Government to make three points with respect to SALT:

The Soviet Government agrees with our proposition that he and I might have an exchange of views both before and during the SALT talks with a view to coming to a conclusion between us on some of the principal outstanding issues.
The Soviet Government wanted the President to know that the Soviets were approaching the Vienna discussions very seriously and would try to find an area of agreement.
The Soviets were prepared to discuss either comprehensive or separate agreements. They believed that a comprehensive agreement would be better because it would lead also to a solution of other political problems. But they were prepared to make separate agreements, provided it was understood that the limited agreements would not preclude coming eventually to a comprehensive agreement.

[Page 194]

Dobrynin said that the Soviet Government had some doubts about the seriousness with which we approached the negotiations and that it had some genuine worries whether we really meant to have a negotiation. I told him that we were extremely serious about the negotiations and that we were hoping to come to an agreement. I said that they should know the President well enough by now to realize that our approach was always concrete and detailed and that the way to find out whether we were serious would be for them to engage in serious discussions. I was sure they would not be disappointed.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 489, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Vol. 1 [Part 2]. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The meeting took place in the East Wing of the White House. Kissinger forwarded the memorandum of conversation to Nixon on March 11. For the full text, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 140.
  2. See Document 52.