83. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
  • Mr. Henry A. Kissinger

The conversation came about in the following way. First, there were indications that the Soviet delegation wanted to wind up the SALT talks in Vienna. Secondly, Gerry Smith was pressing for new instructions authorizing him to offer a more limited option. Third, the President did not want the settlement to be arrived at in Vienna but, if possible, at a summit meeting. He asked me to find out from Dobrynin what the Soviet real intentions were, especially with respect to the conversations we had had in April prior to Dobrynin’s departure for Moscow where it was agreed that, if possible, if there should be a deadlock in Vienna, we would break it at a summit.2

I saw Dobrynin in the Map Room of the White House and said to him that we were at a point where some decisions had to be made with respect to instructions for the Vienna delegation and that it would help us to understand Soviet intentions properly. I said Semyonov’s suggestion of an early end of the Vienna phase could lead to three interpretations: (1) the Soviet Union did not want an agreement on SALT this year at all; (2) the Soviet Union wanted an agreement at Vienna and was using this device in order to elicit a different American proposal; and (3) the Soviet Union wanted an agreement but not at Vienna and was stalemating the talks there in order to permit the other leaders to settle the issue. I would appreciate Dobrynin’s guidance.

Dobrynin, who was noticeably more businesslike and less cordial than at previous meetings, said the first interpretation was clearly out of the question. The Soviet Union did want an agreement on SALT even though our two positions were not yet close enough to set a definite date. As for Vienna, it was the Soviet Union’s judgment that an agreement, including offensive and defensive weapons, could not be negotiated in the time available at Vienna. As for the third interpretation, he was without instructions and he would have to inquire in Moscow.

[Page 289]

Dobrynin asked what I thought of an agreement confined to ABM. I said I saw no reason to change our position since the last time we met.3

[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]. Top Secret; Sensitive. The conversation took place in the Map Room of the White House. The memorandum of conversation is printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 171.
  2. See Documents 64 and 66.
  3. See Document 81.