310. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union 1
Washington, March 1, 1962, 6:48 p.m.
2001. Eyes only for Ambassador from Secretary.
- You will be receiving agreed tripartite instructions in separate cable,2 and should now request early meeting with Gromyko. This message contains my supplementary instructions.
- I continue to be in some doubt about present Soviet intentions and tactics, and have found disturbing their willingness to agitate air access situation—area which they must know to be delicate and highly volatile. At same time they have so far shown disinclination to go beyond limited point of threat and harassment thus reducing risk of escalation. I must assume that Soviets are at least partially motivated by desire to pressure us in present discussions by underlining fragility of existing access arrangements and their capacity to harass us at will. Presumably action has also been related to campaign for mid-March summit meeting in Geneva. It is clear that we must not permit Soviets to obtain impression they can soften our negotiating position by threats and actions against Berlin access. At same time we have had certain objectives in your discussions with Gromyko at least some of which, to extent they remain pertinent, we still hope to pursue.
- In light of current situation our objectives now seem to be:
- to warn Soviet authorities of serious implications of harassments in air corridors;
- to avoid break-off of discussions before Secretary has opportunity to see Gromyko at Geneva (on assumption Soviets will eventually accept idea of meeting at Foreign Ministers’ level);
- to continue to probe for any flexibility in Soviet position, notably in regard to variations in Access Authority proposal and willingness to treat issue of legal status sub silentio;
- to try to turn their thinking to kind of arrangement President suggested to Adzhubei, which would meet immediate problems we face in Berlin without purporting to settle issue for all time and which would open way for progress on other issues.
- It seems evident that French intransigence will continue, and we have now reached point where we must realistically conclude that, within current framework of discussions with Soviets, it will be impossible [Page 851] to meet French prerequisite for their participation in negotiations. This dilemma is one to which we are now giving consideration; it obviously presents serious difficulties if we think of any subsequent negotiations with Soviets in terms of conventional Four-Power meetings of the past.
- Another pertinent factor at this point is need to maintain maximum public support for our position. We consider it likely that Soviets will eventually publish various documents they have handed you in course of talks, and we are prepared to do same with documents you have given Gromyko. In considering problem of creating public understanding our position, we have concluded that all Berlin solution does not have appeal of International Access Authority proposal in terms of inherent plausibility and appeal to world opinion. We are accordingly planning to launch campaign of public statements and publicity through available media about virtue and necessity of International Access Authority. This publicity campaign would take into consideration desirability of not destroying any vague possibility that Soviets would be willing to consider some modification of Access Authority. It would also be directed to possibility that, if Soviets will have nothing to do with Access Authority, they might decide, in face of growing Western demand for improvement in status quo, their interests would be best served by reciprocal abandonment of Free City and Access Authority proposals.
- You will have noted general reference in para 5 of basic instructions to point made by President to Adzhubei. We have not fully informed other countries of details President’s discussion as contained in Deptel 1780 (memcon dated January 31, 1962, pouched Moscow).3 If, in your judgment, however, occasion seems propitious to probe on question posed by Adzhubei on access, you may note that on personal basis Adzhubei did seem to imply there might be some Soviet interest in having question of access supervised by International Commission. You would be willing to explore this matter further if Soviets wish to develop their thinking on subject.
- With respect to point contained memorandum handed Gromyko on February 14 and in para 8 of new basic instructions, if you deem it useful, you may amplify our meaning by observing that what we are asking Soviets is that they pursue course they have projected, namely access issue. We do not want to get into legalistic discussion with them as to differing views of both sides on status. We want merely [Page 852] to deal pragmatically with factual problems arising out of announced Soviet intentions.
- For reasons given para 15 Deptel 16165 we are somewhat reluctant at this time to have you raise question of all-Berlin confederation as suggested your 2186.6
- In view of approach your next meeting outlined in basic instructions, and above, do not believe you should use contingency instructions contained Deptel 1768.7
- The President is concerned that these clear restatements of our position should not be read as an indication that the US is uninterested in a reasonable Berlin settlement. Unless you perceive overwhelming objections, you should add that our insistence upon the discussion of access has been based upon our conviction that this is the issue without which no other can be usefully worked out. The Soviet Government’s position so far has raised in our mind a serious question whether that Government is itself seeking any agreement, but if the Soviet Government is in fact interested, we would be glad now to pursue informal bilateral conversations on wider subjects, subject always to the need for a strong and clear settlement on access and preservation of basic rights in West Berlin. While we cannot say that the position taken by the Soviet Government in Thompson-Gromyko talks has been encouraging, either on narrow or on wide questions, we ourselves are still determined to leave no method of discussion untried in seeking a sensible accommodation of the rights and interests of both sides. In making the point of this paragraph, you should emphasize its importance and the high authority from which it directly proceeds.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/3-162. Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Drafted by Hillenbrand and the final paragraph in the White House; cleared by Rusk (in draft), Bohlen, and the White House; and initialed and approved by Kohler.↩
- Document 309.↩
- See footnote 3, Document 277.↩
- See Document 278.↩
- Document 260.↩
- Document 288.↩
- Document 275.↩