319. Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

Kissinger: Dobrynin has a message for us that State can handle in which they are asking for a 5-power conference on nuclear matters, but which they are addressing to all heads of State. He asked if he could come in for five minutes to hand it to you tomorrow. It would make a good impression in Moscow. All you have to do is say you’ll study it.

Nixon: A five-power conference on nuclear matters?

Kissinger: It was in Breshnev’s 24th Party Congress speech. I would make very sure not to discuss anything else with him. But…5 or 10 minutes and then we can ship it right over to State. It’s not something we want to handle here.

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: [Interrupting] That it’s addressed to every head of State.

Nixon: [unclear] Well, tell Rogers that we’re having him deliver it here.

Kissinger: Well, we’ll tell Rogers that he has to see me and since you were free we had him deliver it here. Also, it means if something comes off, it’s your channel. Something may come out of it.

Nixon: What do we want to come out of it? Why do we want them to have a five-power conference?

Kissinger: Well, they’re delivering it anyway.

Nixon: What I meant is, do we want to have a 5-power conference on nuclear issues?

Kissinger: Not particularly, but we can handle—That’s another subject we can discuss with the Chinese when we see them. It will take two to three weeks to prepare a reply for—and it won’t require preparing. It’s not a summit meeting.

Nixon: Oh.

Kissinger: We can’t refuse it really.

[Omitted here is discussion of the upcoming meeting with Ambassador Rush.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation No. 520–8. No classification marking. The editors transcribed the portion of the tape recording published here specifically for this volume.
  2. Nixon and Kissinger discussed the President’s upcoming meeting that afternoon with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin regarding the Soviet proposal for a five-power conference on nuclear disarmament.