217. Editorial Note

On April 12, 1971, Assistant to the President Kissinger sent Ambassador Rush a special channel message to review the arrangements for the upcoming meeting with Soviet Ambassador Abrasimov on the Berlin negotiations. During the formal quadripartite session on April 16, Kissinger reminded Rush, “Abrasimov will ask for the private meeting which he postponed last time. As I understand it, Abrasimov will go over his draft treaty and he expects you to raise the points I have handed to Dobrynin [see Document 208]. At the end of the meeting, you will talk to him privately with only his interpreter present. As soon as Dobrynin returns, I suggest that you talk to Falin instead of Abrasimov.” [Page 653] (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1) Rush replied by special channel on April 13: “I am in accord with arrangements outlined in your message and will promptly inform you of results of meeting with Abrasimov. I understand that you will arrange with Dobrynin for me to talk with Falin but if you have other suggestions please let me know.” (Ibid.)

In the absence of Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin, Kissinger met Soviet Minister Counselor Vorontsov at the White House on April 13 to confirm the “technical arrangements” for the private discussion between Rush and Abrasimov. According to a memorandum of conversation, Kissinger described the procedures as follows: “at the next meeting of the four Ambassadors slated for April 16th, Abrasimov is to ask Rush for a private meeting; the subject of that meeting is to be the Soviet draft proposal of March 26th, and Rush will raise the issues contained in the oral note already given to Dobrynin.” When Kissinger suggested establishing a backchannel between Rush and Soviet Ambassador Falin for talks on Berlin, Vorontsov said that “it sounded to him like a good idea and he would report it to Moscow.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 491, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 5 [Part 1])

Kissinger called Dobrynin in Moscow on an open telephone line at 7:15 p.m. to discuss “a technical point which you and I had already discussed and just wanted to make sure it was clearly understood.” After Dobrynin expressed some confusion on the subject, Kissinger explained that he had raised with Vorontsov the “other suggestion having to do with the April 16th meeting.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 366, Telephone Records, Chronological File) Kissinger then called Nixon at 7:46 p.m. to “mention a number of relatively minor things,” including the arrangements for private talks on Berlin.

Kissinger: “I talked today to this fellow Vorontsov from the Soviet Embassy.”

Nixon: “Right.”

Kissinger: “The reason was that there’s a meeting between Rush and Abrasimov—”

Nixon: “Yes.”

Kissinger: “—on Berlin. And I just wanted to make sure that they didn’t blow, that they understood which way the channels were going.”

Nixon: “Yes.”

Kissinger: “And—”

Nixon: “He understood that?”

Kissinger: “Oh yeah, he understood it and he said that Dobrynin was coming back Sunday with new instructions, and that we should take the Brezhnev speech very seriously, and he was slobbering all over me.”

[Page 654]

Nixon: “Good.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation Between Nixon and Kissinger, April 13, 1971, 7:46–7:52 p.m., White House Telephone, WHT 1–79) The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume.