17. Memorandum of Conversation, Paris, August 16, 1971, 9:05-10:45 a.m.1 2



  • Huang Chen, PRC Ambassador to France
  • Tsao Kuei Sheng, First Secretary of PRC Embassy
  • Wei Tung, Secretary to the PRC Ambassador
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Major General Vernon Walters, Defense Attache, U.S. Embassy, Paris
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff

August 19, 1971

PLACE: PRC Embassy, Paris

DATE & TIME: Monday, August 16, 1971

9:05 a.m.-10:45 a.m.

Ambassador Huang: You arrived last night?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Ambassador Huang: You had a good rest?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. I have come to France secretly eleven times byfive different methods. I am going to write a detective story when I am through.

Ambassador Huang: You have very intelligent methods. I transmitted your message and I will now let Mr. Tsao read in English a response in order to save time.

Mr. Tsao: (Reading): An oral message of August 16: “During the interim visit talks will still be held between Prime Minister Chou En-lai and Dr. Kissinger in Peking. The special plane will enter Shanghai and then fly to Peking after a Chinese navigator boards the plane. As to specific details concerning the visits, we would like Dr. Kissinger first to give his views for consideration.” [Page 2] Is that all right [the English]?

Dr. Kissinger: That’s very clear. That is a message?

Mr. Tsao: An oral message.

Ambassador Huang: There is a second point I would like to speak about, concerning the negotiations between Huang Hua and the New York Times’ Mr. Szulc.

Dr. Kissinger: We don’t have complete diplomatic relations with the New York Times, so we are very grateful. (Ambassador Huang laughs.)

Ambassador Huang: I would like to tell the Doctor about this conversation. In his off the record conversation with New York Times’ correspondent Mr. Szulc, Ambassador Huang Hua did not give a direct reply when asked whether the Warsaw Talks would continue in the future, but only said that neither side has declared that the Warsaw Talks have ended. These words are in accord with the tacit understanding reached by the two sides at the talks in Peking. It is the understanding of the Chinese government that the Warsaw Talks now exist in name only and that neither side has an interest to reopen the Warsaw channel. However, bureaucratic documents may sometimes still be transmitted through it.

Dr. Kissinger: That is exactly our understanding. That is correct. We were told by Mr. Szulc that your Ambassador had indicated perhaps that we should open the Warsaw Talks. But this clears it up completely. We are in complete agreement.

Ambassador Huang: Would you like some tea?

General Walters: It is the best tea in Paris.

Ambassador Huang: You are quite accustomed to Chinese tea?

Dr. Kissinger: I am not, but I like it very much. Mr. Ambassador I have actually a long list of items which I would like to discuss with you if I could.

Ambassador Huang: Our cook is trying to make some Chinese specialties for our honored guests.

Dr. Kissinger: I absolutely adore Chinese food.

[Page 3]

Ambassador Huang: If next time you come in the afternoon, I’ll give you more Chinese things to eat. Obviously the Chinese cooking here is not as good as in Peking.

Dr. Kissinger: I am sure. Should I start?

Ambassador Huang: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: I wanted, in line with my conversation with Prime Minister Chou En-lai, to inform you about some new developments in our relations with the Soviet Union. You can be sure that we will be meticulous about keeping you informed. The Prime Minister will remember that I spoke to him about negotiations going on at that time with the Soviet Union, concerning attempts to try to lessen the dangers of accidental nuclear war. It now seems probable that within the next two weeks we will complete/initial a draft text of an agreement on this question.

The Peoples Republic of China is the first country we are informing of this. We will talk to other countries and our allies, including France, later this week. I would like to give you, Mr. Ambassador, for the government of the Peoples Republic of China the general provisions of this agreement. They are as follows:

  • — Each side, that is to say the Soviet Union and the U.S., will improve its organizational and technical procedures to guard against the accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear arms under its control.
  • — Second, each party will notify the other immediately in the event of an accidental or unauthorized incident regarding accidental detonation of nuclear weapons which could risk the outbreak of nuclear war.
  • — The parties will notify each other immediately in the event of detecting unidentified objects if such occurrences could create the risk of nuclear war between the two countries.
  • — Each party will notify the other in advance of any missile launches which will extend beyond its national territory in the direction of the other party.
  • — In other situations involving unexplained nuclear incidents each party will act so as to lessen the chance of misinterpretation [Page 4] by the other party.

These are the principal provisions, and I want to add a few additional items of information for the Prime Minister and for the Government.

The Soviet Union is attempting to get us to agree to make the agreement applicable to other countries also. For example, they have asked to include a clause inviting other countries to participate in the agreement. Secondly, they have asked us to include a clause in which we and the Soviet Union have an obligation to report about events in other countries similar to events occurring between the two countries which must be reported in this agreement. In other words, we have to report about you and the French.

We have refused both of these proposals. We cannot prevent the Soviet Union’s making unilateral declarations to that effect, but we shall under no circumstances associate ourselves with it. We will make agreements with the Soviet Union only on subjects of direct concern to our two countries, i.e., the Soviet Union and ourselves.

As I told your Prime Minister, we are prepared to sign a similar agreement, on a bilateral basis, with the Peoples Republic of China, but we shall not propose it publicly, and we shall leave the initiative to the Prime Minister.

Ambassador Huang: Shall we eat a little?

(There was then a short break for tea and Chinese specialties, during which there was some light banter about Chinese food and linguistic abilities. )

Dr. Kissinger: I have a few other things to talk about. The reason I go so fast is because I have another meeting later about which you might hear later. (Ambassador Huang laughs.) I think the Ambassador is better informed about my activities than anyone else, certainly better than our Ambassador.

As I told the Prime Minister when I was in Peking, there is a possibility, a probability, that there will be an agreement between the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States about access procedures for Berlin. This is a highly technical negotiation which has no direct implications for the Peoples Republic of China, but if you want I will, through General Walters, let you know the general [Page 5] provisions. This leads to a final point—I would be glad to answer any questions now if you wish on Berlin.

Ambassador Huang: I have listened with great attention to what Dr. Kissinger has said and will transmit it to our Government.

Dr. Kissinger: This leads me to another point which I’ve already discussed with Prime Minister Chou En-lai when I was in Peking. As you remember, Prime Minister Chou-En-lai said that the Peoples Republic of China would welcome a meeting between the Soviet and American leaders and asked my views on that subject. I told Prime Minister Chou that, prior to my coming to Peking, we had told the Soviet leaders that after we made some specific progress in negotiations we would be disposed to have a meeting with them. I said that we had told this to the Soviets before going to Peking, and I told Prime Minister Chou when I was there.

I am certain that they will now propose a meeting to us. I want to inform you that we will not have a meeting with the Soviet leaders before we have a meeting with the Chinese leaders. I have already informed you about that. We may announce the meeting before going to Peking, but that meeting will not take place before a meeting with the Chinese leaders. If we announce the meeting, we will give you a week’s advance warning before the public announcement. It is not yet certain, but it is very possible.

Now let me make a general observation. Since my visit to Peking it is the obvious Soviet strategy to give the impression that they can outmaneuver the Peoples Republic of China by seeming to come much closer to us because they can offer us much more. We understand this strategy. We made a fundamental decision before we visited Peking to put our relations with the Peoples Republic of China on a new basis. We are not affected by these maneuvers. I am prepared to discuss our relations with the Soviet Union fully and openly with the Prime Minister when I am in Peking, and in the meantime I will inform him through you. (Ambassador Huang nods.)

Ambassador Huang: That means that during your next visit to Peking you will discuss this with Prime Minister Chou and keep informing him through me in the meantime?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. That is we will make sure that you will confront no surprises. On any actions that we take that we believe affects your interest, [Page 6] we will want to know your views. I have a whole list of other technical points if the Ambassador has patience.

Ambassador Huang: I will be happy to listen to you.

Dr. Kissinger: This is in order to keep you informed on all matters we believe of interest to the Peoples Republic of China. That is why it takes so long.

After my visit to Peking the Japanese Government suggested either a visit by the President to Japan or a visit by the Emperor to the United States. (Ambassador Huang smiles.) We have avoided these invitations by proposing that the President greet the Emperor in Alaska when the Emperor is on his way to Europe, for one hour. So the President will meet the Emperor from 10:00 to 11:00 at night on September 26 at Anchorage, Alaska at the airport. (Mr. Tsao laughs.) The Emperor was stopping there anyway to refuel his plane. He is not making a special trip.

Prior to my visit to Peking we had invited the Prime Minister of India to visit the United States on November 9. She has now accepted this, perhaps because she has a slightly guilty conscience. The invitation was extended in April. (Ambassador Huang asks for the meaning of guilty conscience and Dr. Kissinger explains.) She wants to prove her nonalignment. She accepted it after the treaty with the Soviet Union. She will receive a correct reception.

I wanted to let the Prime Minister and the Government of the Peoples Republic of China know our general policy with respect to the Subcontinent. (Ambassador Huang asks questions of his interpreter during much of this conversation to make sure that he understands what Dr. Kissinger is saying.)

We face a very difficult situation. The Government of India has a real problem with refugees, but also wants to use this opportunity to humiliate Pakistan. We are prepared to help with the problem of refugees. We will not participate and will strongly discourage any attempt to humiliate Pakistan. We face a very difficult domestic situation in the United States. Indian propaganda is extremely skillful and the opposition party in the United States, which controls Congress, is completely on the side of Indian propaganda. They make it next to impossible to continue military supplies to Pakistan, for example. We are therefore adopting the following strategy. We are attempting to separate [Page 7] the issue of relief of the suffering in East Pakistan and the refugees from the issue of the political future of East Pakistan in which there is no support in the United States. In other words India attempts to get us involved in the political future of East Pakistan. We take the position that this is for Pakistan and not for us.

We are appointing this week a senior official to coordinate the movement of food and other emergency relief into East Pakistan. And we will also make him responsible for consulting with the Government of Pakistan to develop a program to make it possible for a maximum number of refugees to return home so as to deprive India of any pretext for intervention.

I tell you informally that our impression is that the Government of Pakistan is honorable but not imaginative. Anything that other friends of Pakistan can do to encourage it to be imaginative so as to make it possible for the return of the refugees to a maximum extent, will help our general strategy of removing the pretext for India to intervene, to take military action.

Ambassador Huang: To create a Bangla Desh?

Dr. Kissinger: That’s not what we are recommending.

Ambassador Huang: I hadn’t finished. For in order to create a Bangla Desh India is obviously interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan and is carrying out subversive actions.

Dr. Kissinger: We agree with that. We are trying to make it more difficult for India to do this. We have told India that if it starts military action we will cut off all economic aid. This is why it is important that Pakistan not start a war.

Ambassador Huang: Dr. Kissinger also knows what has happened recently on the India/Pakistan border. Indian artillery has fired continually on Pakistan territory and Pakistan has protested.

Dr. Kissinger: We are aware of this.

Ambassador Huang: The friends of Pakistan here in Paris say that the Pakistan Government is doing all that it can to repatriate refugees.

Dr. Kissinger: With all honesty, Mr. Ambassador, the Pakistan [Page 8] government is not very imaginative in psychology and in its political strategy. They do ten little things instead of one big thing. And they do ten little things over ten weeks instead of all at once. (Ambassador Huang laughs.)

Ambassador Huang: Pakistan’s friends in Paris say that India has greatly exaggerated the number of refugees.

Dr. Kissinger: We don’t know because they don’t permit foreign observers in these areas. We will attempt to find means to start our economic assistance to Pakistan again, and the man we are appointing, Mr. Williams, is going this week to Pakistan to see with the Pakistan government how we can recommence this aid. We give economic assistance together with other countries, and up to now the other countries won’t give and we are searching for ways to start it up again.

We are prevented by our Congress from giving military assistance but we understand it if other friends of Pakistan will give them the equipment they need. But we will do what we can in the economic field and we will have a large program to supply food and other material to prevent chaos in East Pakistan. And we will do nothing to embarrass the Government of Pakistan by any public statements. We leave it to the Government of the Peoples Republic of China, but any views that it may have on this subject will be taken very seriously by us.

I have only two more matters. I am afraid Mr. Tsao has a long telegram to write. (Ambassador Huang laughs.)

Ambassador Huang: We will make a very detailed report.

Dr. Kissinger: The first has to do with my trip. I must be in the United States during the week of October 25, because President Tito of Yugoslavia will visit Washington during that week beginning October 25. I would therefore like to propose, subject to the approval of the Government of the Peoples Republic of China, that I pay my interim visit during the week of October 18 for three to four days, say four days. Starting the 18th, 19th or 20th, whichever is more convenient. I understand that the Prime Minister said the second half of October. Whichever is more convenient to the Peoples Republic of China.

Ambassador Huang: I will transmit this to the Prime Minister.

Dr. Kissinger: After we have your reply we will make specific proposals [Page 9] about the agenda, etc. It would also be helpful if we could have the proposal of the Prime Minister about when we should announce this visit.

I will arrive in one of the airplanes of the President and come either from Hawaii or Alaska—I have not yet decided. So you will let me know about the date and your proposal for an announcement? And how we should make it?

Finally, I would like to propose to the Government of the Peoples Republic of China a possible date for the President’s visit to the Peoples Republic of China. I have two dates. The first is for about a week starting February 21, 1972. The second possibility is for the same period starting March 16, 1972. We leave it to the Government of the Peoples Republic of China to tell us the date.

Ambassador Huang: Do you have a preference between these two dates?

Dr. Kissinger: A slight preference for February but it is not decisive. Today I really have an enormous amount of business to do with you.

Ambassador Huang: I am prepared to listen as long as you want, as long as this does not compromise your next visit.

Dr. Kissinger: I think that the Ambassador knows that my next visit is already compromised. (Ambassador Huang laughs.) When I was in Peking, Ambassador Huang Hua was very kind to me. I have a note here welcoming him to the North American continent. It also says how he can get in touch with me if I can be useful to him. I wonder if you could transmit it for me?

Ambassador Huang: I will transmit it as soon as possible.

Dr. Kissinger: One other thought for your consideration. It is conceivable—I can’t imagine it now—that there may be an emergency in which communications to Paris are difficult, and if in those circumstances, the Government of the Peoples Republic of China wants to be in touch with us rapidly or we with it in a crisis, my letter suggests how this can be done. We understand that this is only for emergencies and that this is the principal channel, the one here. As far as I am concerned you can use any of the telephone numbers there. The safest is the White House number [Page 10] because they always are in contact with me. That is designed for jealous wives who can always find their husbands. On your side I leave it to you.

Ambassador Huang: We will tell you later.

Dr. Kissinger: When I was in Peking, the Prime Minister asked me how much Lend Lease aid we gave in World War II. It is for his scholarly pursuits. (Ambassador Huang laughs.) The total amount is $48.4 billion. The program technically ended in March 1948. Twenty-five per cent of this went to the Soviet Union. That’s all I have.

Ambassador Huang: That includes military equipment?

Dr. Kissinger: I will have to check. This was before inflation. I want to tell you one other thing. I am taking General Walters home for a week’s vacation. He will return August 25.

General Walters: I will be available after that for any information you want to transmit.

Dr. Kissinger: Does that create any problems for you?

Ambassador Huang: I will transmit all that Dr. Kissinger has said to Prime Minister Chou En-lai and if I have anything I will transmit it after August 25.

General Walters: Thank you Mr. Ambassador.

Dr. Kissinger: Is it possible in protocol to send my personal regards to the Prime Minister who impressed me very much?

Ambassador Huang: I will transmit them.

Dr. Kissinger: I look forward to seeing him again.

Ambassador Huang: Now you are compromising your next meeting.

(Dr. Kissinger then explained the various telephone numbers and the White House switchboard. )

[Page 11]

Dr. Kissinger: The White House always answers. During the day it is better to call me direct. The second number in the letter is covered from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. The White House number is twenty-four hours a day. The first number is always in contact with me no matter when. It is better to contact me with the first number.

General Walters: They can always find him.

Dr. Kissinger: Sometimes it is very embarrassing.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File-China Trip, China Exchanges, July 1971-Oct 20, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Drafted by Lord on August 19. All brackets in the source text. The meeting was held at the Chinese Embassy.
  2. President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger informed Chinese Ambassador to France Huang Chen that the United States and the Soviet Union would soon conclude an agreement that would lessen the dangers of accidental nuclear war between the superpowers, predicted that the Soviets would propose that President Nixon visit the Soviet Union, and assured Huang that Nixon would visit China before visiting the Soviet Union.