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

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

HK: Anatol, two things about our discussions this morning.2 First on the MBFR Conference, we might be prepared to have just an exploratory meeting by ambassadors somewhere say in Geneva—with some experts from the Capitol so as to keep this imagery between it and the European Security Conference, but if you totally refuse anything, it will create major problems with our allies, whom we have told as a result of the summit there was a certain parallelism.

AD: What about the conference—this was a multilateral [omission in original transcript] conference.

HK: Well, frankly, you know we are not going on the conference—we are in no insane hurry about that.

AD: I understand. May I put it this way, if it is as it is now in November all right, but then you would like to have let’s say January or February involved the multilateral….

HK: Don’t you pull any of these Brezhnev tricks on me. I didn’t say a word about February.

AD: It was my words.

HK: I said January—it was a major concession.

AD: It doesn’t matter—January or February really. In this case—but the question is the second conference you would like to have let’s say within the next two months.

HK: Something like that.

AD: Yeah, nothing specifically. This is exactly what you meant—so what is new?

HK: Well, what is new is that we are willing to do it in a parallel way with the exploratory talks. I mean, as by the same procedures.

AD: Yeah, but this was my understanding in the one you said it will be practically the same. The one I think I mentioned to you that [Page 328] time that there was no agreement about a conference of troop reductions in Moscow that we discussed—or rather that the President discussed with the leadership. There was no—It was understanding parallel, yes; it was a certain kind of body, yes; but there was nothing said about a conference. So that was new when we discussed today.

HK: To us the difference between a body and a conference is not self-evident.

AD: No, but it is because it was a body used in a sense of certain kind of preliminary consultative but not really conference. When we discussed this body, it was just one impression and then to decide about a conference which was our understanding.

HK: Yeah, but that’s right. That’s what we want a preliminary group to do.

AD: Yes, but now you put restriction that within two months it should be conference on the troop reductions.

HK: No, no; within two months there should be a preliminary meeting to discuss about a conference on troop reductions.

AD: Just a minute—what will you want to discuss in January?

HK: No, I’m not saying that the conference will take place two months after the preliminary discussions.

AD: No. Well, you said, the preliminary discussions will be according to your plans to go there January, yes?

HK: Yes.

AD: What sort of development will be?

HK: Well, they will discuss when there should be a conference and how it should be organized.

AD: Yes, but do you already prejudge now when this conference will be.

HK: No, we will not push it.

AD: This will be happening about 2 months after?

HK: Oh, no, no; not two months after that.

AD: Yes.

HK: I would have thought maybe by the fall.

AD: By the fall, I understand.

HK: My idea is that these MBFR discussions will take 2 or 3 years.

AD: Yeah, I understand. But the conference—but if you presume on your idea the conference will be in the middle of the year so this will be in the fall.

HK: That’s right.

AD: I’m roughly speaking I mean.

HK: That’s right.

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AD: So it will be between 3 or 4 months.

HK: Something like that.

AD: Or something like that. I don’t want to pin down you precisely but just understand what your way of thinking is.

HK: Exactly.

AD: So it will be really exactly exercised as a [omission in original transcript] on your [omission in original transcript] but within 2 or 3 months, yes?

HK: Yes.

AD: I mean this difference of timing.

HK: Right.

AD: Otherwise it will be the same. I mean from the way of handling—

HK: That is essentially right.

AD: Essentially probably but different than some of the [omission in original transcript] and then this conference will give [omission in original transcript] will organize committee and they will discuss for several years.

HK: That would be my expectation.

AD: Yeah. No, what I mean—

HK: Of course if you unilaterally withdraw your troops, there doesn’t have to be a conference.

AD: But you see I am afraid it won’t be happening.

HK: No, we will accept it. Try us.

AD: But really I am afraid you will not. (laughter) You said it as a trick behind us.

HK: The Chinese will protest.

AD: This is so, they will and you will make a statement—if not you, but maybe some other person will tell it—it’s a dirty trick. (laughter)

HK: Well, try us. We may fool you.

AD: I don’t want to interfere in your domestic affairs. [Omitted here is discussion of matters other than a European security conference or MBFR.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 27, Anatoli Dobrynin File. No classification marking.
  2. The memorandum of Kissinger’s conversation with Dobrynin, August 22, which dealt exclusively with Vietnam, is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974.