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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 22, 2007


Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs Release of Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972

The Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State released today Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969–1972. This joint documentary publication, collected and compiled by historians from both the U.S. Department of State and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provides unprecedented insight into Soviet-American relations during a critical era in the history of the Cold War: the détente years, 1969–1972. In February 1969, Henry Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, opened a confidential channel with the Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Dobrynin. During the next three and a half years, the two men met on a regular basis in Washington, both at the White House and at the Soviet Embassy, to discuss important issues of the day, including arms control, Berlin, the Middle East, South Asia, China, and Vietnam. Through this mechanism, President Richard M. Nixon and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev exchanged ideas and information outside normal diplomatic and bureaucratic channels. The confidential channel also allowed the White House to practice behind-the-scenes diplomacy, thus avoiding interference not only from Congress, but also from the Department of State. Although their methods may have been controversial, the collaboration between Kissinger and Dobrynin helped to reduce tension in the Soviet-American relationship, eventually resulting in agreements on Berlin, SALT, and other issues, and culminating in the Moscow Summit in May 1972.

This volume presents a selection of American and Soviet documents on the diplomacy that led to détente between the superpowers. The documents include, in particular, Kissinger and Dobrynin’s respective accounts of their conversations in this confidential channel, as well as the official records of the Moscow Summit. Although many of Kissinger’s memoranda were declassified in 2002, Dobrynin’s reports were, until now, sealed in the Russian archives. In this volume, and its Russian counterpart, these and other important documents are available to researchers for the first time. By presenting Soviet and American documents side-by-side, this volume provides an unparalleled opportunity for students and scholars of diplomatic history to compare and contrast two different versions of the same meetings during a pivotal period in the Cold War.

The volume is being released today in conjunction with a scholarly conference hosted by the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, on “U.S.-Soviet Relations in the Era of Détente, 1969-1976.” The conference will take place on October 22-23, at the U.S. Department of State in the East Auditorium of the George C. Marshall Conference Center, at Virginia Avenue and 21st Street. The full program and registration details may be found at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/70893.htm.

The volume will be available in early December for purchase from the U.S. Government Printing Office for $59.00 (international orders $82.50). To pre-order, visit the GPO website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, or call toll free 866-512-1800 (GPO stock number 044-000-02616-3; ISBN 978-0-16-079065-2).

2007/901


Released on October 22, 2007

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