325. Telegram From the Delegation at the Foreign Ministers Meetings to the Department of State1

Secto 173. East-West contacts. Third session Contacts Working Group convened 10 am Friday with Kemenev producing list of items which in Soviet view corresponded with subject matter contained in both tripartite Western memorandum and in Soviet proposal.2 This Soviet listing omitted points 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 16 and 17 of joint Western memorandum as well as items in Soviet proposal relating to UN specialized agencies and immigration barriers. Kemenev then urged that discussions re procedure be terminated and that important substantive work be started in order to record progress.

Western delegations immediately emphasized that while they prepared to discuss items listed by Soviets as acceptable for agenda, Soviet listing could constitute only part of agenda. They stressed that each delegation should have right to raise for discussion other matters which they regard as important to development East-West contacts. If Working Group restricts itself to points on which agreement easy, work would be confined to small segment of broad subject referred to Working Group. Would be unfortunate if we could find agreement here only on those things on which substantial agreement exists even before discussion initiated. This would be tantamount to merely confirming exchanges now substantially under way and would not correspond with our task to develop East-West contacts. This sort of approach to our work would not accord with first part of [Page 683] summit directive which calls for elimination of barriers interfering with free communications.

Accordingly each Western delegation reserved right to raise questions on matters not included in Soviet listing and endeavored to obtain Soviet agreement that Tuesday would be reserved for discussion of items not contained in Soviet listing but included in Western memorandum and Soviet proposal. When Soviets evasive on precise timing of such discussion, using argument that they could not agree in advance since it might be necessary to give careful study to questions which Western delegations might raise, Western delegations (a) again reserved right to raise important questions on subject matter not on Soviet listing, (b) indicated that they would submit in advance list of items they would raise for discussion Tuesday so that Soviets would have ample time to study them and (c) emphasized that Western lists would consist of items contained in 17 point Western memorandum with which Soviets already familiar. Soviets then finally agreed that they would be prepared discuss balance of 17 Western items (those not on Soviet listing such as censorship and jamming) 19, Tuesday.

Procedural wrangle ended at 12:40 when substantive discussion of items on Soviet listing began. Here again Soviets employed kind of obstructionism which has characterized their conduct thus far on Item III. Kemenev droned on and on without visible signs of fatigue, endeavoring to force Western acceptance of language in Soviet proposal. Although only substantive item considered was attendance at scientific and cultural meetings, more than two hours of discussion failed to produce agreement on this item. US backed by other Western powers stressed necessity of prior knowledge by both govts, sponsorship by reputable organizations, reciprocity, and that admittance Soviet representatives to US would be in accordance with US laws and regulations. US cited revised policy on exchange-visitor visa designations as step already taken. Soviet representative agreed as to reciprocity and stressed that Soviet laws do not hamper entry foreign scientists invited to USSR. He ignored point re prior governmental knowledge, attacked sponsorship point as irrelevant since govts cannot instruct scientists as to what constitutes reputable organizations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–455. Secret. Repeated to Paris, London, Bonn, and Moscow. Passed to the Mission at the United Nations and to the Department of Defense. Regarding the first two meetings of the Working Group on Contacts, see footnote 4, Document 317.
  2. For texts of the Western and Soviet proposals on the development of contacts between East and West, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 239–240 and 245–248, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 163–166.