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

D: You are still here?

K: You are making me go to dinner tonight when I have options which are more attractive.2

D: I want to make a proposal at the beginning of dinner.

K: Your proposals always deprive me of any real options.

D: You taught me how to find a compromise.

K: You better be friendly to me tonight or they will think we had a bad fight in Moscow.

D: I will make the concession.

K: I will let you have on Monday the rough estimate on figures. We are working on it this weekend, but by Monday noon, I will let you know.3

D: I won’t ask you across the table tonight.

K: Anatoliy, we have the German problem I want to discuss. Our information is that the CDU may be looking for a way out of the German treaties.

D: Barzel?

K: If we can get the votes delayed a little bit … One way is by looking for a face-saving formula by which there can be a minor concession. They want language from us asking for the restoration of bipartisanship in Germany. We are asking Brandt if he wants us to do it. We are also asking you.

D: I will have to check.

K: We have not answered the communication from Barzel. He is proposing that we in some form write him and say we hope he restores the spirit of bipartisanship.

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D: Not any specific question mentioned, but bipartisanship on treaties?

K: Then he would ask for some additional minor concession about ratification. Then he will make a very reasonable proposal and that enables the treaties to go through. On the other hand, we have not replied. If we reply now, it may delay the vote on May 4. When you are in direct communication with Brezhnev you can ask what he wants—say I have just gotten a message to check Gromyko or Brezhnev’s judgment in Moscow. We want to work cooperatively with you.

D: It is very important now.

K: None of this is known to our people. Keep this in mind. You understand the problem.

D: I understand; it is clear. They will appreciate your call in Moscow.4

K: I would like Mr. Brezhnev to know that we sent yesterday a message to Brandt congratulating him on [defeating] a vote of no confidence.5 He can use that.

D: From the President?

K: Yes. Your people will recognize that as positive.

D: Until this evening …

K: I am reluctant, as fond of you as I am.

D: I shall accompany your date.

K: I don’t know.

D: You should say yes or no.

K: I would like to say no to you on something.

D: We will talk it over during dinner.

K: Okay, bye.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 371, Telephone Conversations. No classification marking.
  2. Kissinger left his office at 4:45 p.m. (Record of Schedule; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) No record has been found of his dinner discussion that evening with Dobrynin.
  3. The two men met in the Map Room at the White House from 12:15 to 12:40 p.m. on Monday, May 1. (Ibid.) The note Kissinger gave Dobrynin during the meeting on freezing the number of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIII.
  4. Kissinger called Dobrynin back at 12:15 p.m. to discuss whether Washington should intervene to encourage bipartisanship in Bonn by a private message, as suggested by Barzel, or by a public statement from the White House. Kissinger: “One other thing we want Gromyko’s judgement on. We were prepared to say something [publicly] in general along lines we discussed yesterday, on Monday. Under these conditions it may precipitate a vote. Brandt may lose.” Dobrynin: “You mean before.” Kissinger: “If he wants us to follow Barzel’s suggestion this may mean delays in vote. We will hold that with a statement until we hear reply from Brandt.” Dobrynin: “You will ask him about statement from White House—Barzel, you are going to ask him too.” Kissinger: “No. I just want to explain to Gromyko the reason we are holding up on statement until we have the reply from Brandt because practical consequences of our making statement might be to precipitate vote on Thursday and it may not be desirable. If we get a reply from Brandt before Monday we will make it Monday.” Dobrynin: “I understand. You will just await reply from Brandt. You will give this to Barzel and second, you will make a statement.” Kissinger: “If we write this for Barzel we wouldn’t make a public statement.” Dobrynin: “Yes, if he says he doesn’t like Barzel you will not make a statement.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 371, Telephone Conversations)
  5. See Document 358.