177. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union0

1771. Eyes only for Ambassadors and Lightner. In light of Chancellor’s attitude reported Bonn’s 2149 repeated Moscow 2431 and weighing [Page 490] all factors, we have concluded that, given our underlying assumption that responsible governments must do all they can to keep open channels of diplomatic communication on issues as potentially explosive as Berlin, there is no sound alternative to resumption of talks, now that Soviets have taken initiative.

During course of next meeting with Gromyko at which you will presumably have at least one other subject to cover (wide diameter pipe), you should inform him along following lines: 1) US Government has carefully considered statement which Soviet Foreign Minister made during your meeting with him on January 26;2 2) you have been instructed to advise him US agrees to resumption bilateral exploratory talks on Berlin and Germany to see whether basis for fruitful negotiations exists; 3) US will not have mandate to speak for three occupying powers in Berlin; 4) we have weighted considerations as to best location for talks and would prefer that they be held in Washington. Since we assume from Gromyko’s statement of January 26 that this would be acceptable, we anticipate that Soviet Government will wish to instruct Ambassador Dobrynin accordingly.

In view of foregoing, believe you will wish to avoid any further discussion of Berlin during meeting with Gromyko. If, however, he insists on making substantive comments, you are sufficiently aware of US position to make appropriate responses within your discretion. While we have not come to final conclusions as to precise tactics which we will follow here, primary objective of any resumed talks must obviously be to ascertain whether Soviet position has in any way softened on vital question of continuing Western troop presence. If Gromyko’s remarks make this appropriate, you may wish to comment along same lines as reported penultimate para of Moscow’s 1764 of January 18,3 noting that, if Soviets have any concrete suggestions to make, they should do so when talks are resumed in Washington.

FYI. While we have considered fully case for resumption of talks in Moscow, on balance we have concluded that arguments in favor of Washington, with which you are familiar, seem prevailing at this point. We will, of course, keep you fully informed of all developments, and do not exclude later use of Moscow should this prove desirable.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL US–USSR. Secret; Priority. Drafted and initialed by Hillenbrand on February 19; cleared by Thompson, Tyler, Guthrie, and Bundy; and approved and initialed by Rusk. Repeated to Bonn, London, Paris, and Berlin.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 176.
  3. See Document 171.
  4. Document 170.