64. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Dobrynin
  • Mr. Kissinger

The conversation took place at Dobrynin’s initiative prior to his departure for the Soviet Union for consultations.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]


Dobrynin said that he couldn’t recall our beginning a negotiation in which the two sides knew so little about one another. He said perhaps we should have made some concrete proposal to him informally on which he could have sounded out his government. In the previous Administration, Foster always let him know the Administration’s thinking.

I told Dobrynin that I had offered to talk to him but he had never picked this up. After some inconclusive fencing about who had been responsible for the offer not being taken up, Dobrynin said that his government was serious about these negotiations. However, my suggestion that he and I settle the matter in our channel presented a difficulty.2 Semenov was a Deputy Foreign Minister and it was hard for a mere Ambassador to interject himself. It would help their deliberations in Moscow if I gave him some feel for what our position was likely to be. They would consider that as a sign of our good faith.3

I told Dobrynin that before he left I would indicate whether our position involved a comprehensive or a more limited option, but I would not give him the substance. I reaffirmed my willingness to settle a more limited agreement in this channel with him.4

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 36, Geopolitical File, Soviet Union, Chronological File, 3/69–6/70. Top Secret; Sensitive. The conversation was held at Dobrynin’s residence. Kissinger sent the memorandum to Nixon on April 13 under a covering memorandum that summarized the conversation. For the full text of the memorandum of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 150.
  2. See Document 52.
  3. Nixon highlighted this paragraph.
  4. Nixon highlighted this paragraph. The conversation ended with discussion of a possible summit. Dobrynin suggested that Kosygin could head a delegation to the United Nations and meet Nixon in New York. Kissinger replied that he would consult the President. Dobrynin also stated that “the two most fruitful subjects for a summit were SALT and the Middle East.” Kissinger suggested that they pursue the subject of a summit upon Dobrynin’s return from Moscow.