170. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State0

1764. Paris for USRO, Stoessel and McGuire; US Element Live Oak. Embtel 1763 (sent Dept only).1 Following our discussion communications, I told Gromyko I would be glad take back with me any views he or Khrushchev might wish to give me before departure for transmission to President and Secretary.

Gromyko launched into discussion of Germany/Berlin.

On Germany/Berlin, Gromyko said Sov Govt had made its position clear many times, most recently in Khrushchev’s and his speeches to Supreme Soviet and in Khrushchev’s Jan 16 speech at SED Congress.2 There consequently no need for him to repeat it to me now.

He wished say, however, that Sov Govt considers its proposals good basis for agreement which take into account interests of all parties, including USSR and USA. Those who think question of German peace settlement has lost its topicality and urgency would be making great mistake. Soviets had emphasized and continue now to emphasize that German peace treaty and settlement on this basis of problem of West Berlin remain urgent and acute.

Sov Govt had set no date for peace treaty. It was better not to close door to negotiations on this subject. If US or its Allies should conclude from this that problem was not urgent, they would be making big mistake.

Sov Govt was proceeding from assumption that statements which US Govt had made regarding desirability of continuing talks, particularly during his conversations with Secretary remain in force.

However, Sovs cannot understand why certain leading American personalities were making statements now regarding absence of urgency [Page 479] on Germany/Berlin. For example, Secretary had made statement only couple of days ago.3 In it, he said US Govt believes exchange of views must be continued. That is right. That was positive side his statement. Gromyko understood it to mean that US was ready continue talks with view to reaching agreement. But Secretary also said this only in very general way, without taking it to logical conclusion, i.e., that talks should be renewed soon and should not be delayed.

If Sovs were to name a date as term during which talks should be completed, that would complicate question for both sides. Sov Govt proceeded from assumption that USG remains ready to talk. If this is so, talks should be resumed and exchange of views should continue.

When interpreter had finished translating this, Gromyko said he had “additional explanation”: Sov Govt emphasized importance of settlement Germany/Berlin, since this would strengthen confidence between states and would increase possibility for favorable solution of disarmament problems. There was lack of confidence in world today. It was necessary settle this problem so progress could be made on disarmament.

At end his presentation, I said I should of course report his remarks immediately and fully. Without getting into discussion of Germany/Berlin, I wanted to confirm that US is interested in reaching understanding which would reduce tensions in Central Europe. As Secretary had told him, we do not consider there can be any question of unilateral procrastination when two sides are attempting to reach agreement. Soviets had put forward some proposals and so had we, but we had had no response to our proposals. This was mutual responsibility.

I said we had noticed in recent Soviet statement on subject some indications that Sovs might be ready to take our vital interests more fully into account, e.g., on troop question. If Soviet side had any concrete suggestions to make, I was prepared to take them back to Washington with me.

Gromyko did not respond to my offer convey any suggestions to Washington.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1–1863. Secret; Limited Distribution. Repeated to Berlin, Bonn, Paris, and London.
  2. Telegram 1763, also dated January 18, discussed communications links between Washington and Moscow. (Ibid., 911.2161/1–1863)
  3. For text of Khrushchev’s January 16 address, see Pravda or Izvestiia, January 17, 1963. For extracts, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 831–833, or American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1963, pp. 532–533.
  4. For text of this January 12 statement, see ibid., pp. 531–532.