227. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rusk and Foreign Minister Gromyko0

While I was in Cincinnati at the Hebrew Union College on Saturday, October 12, Mr. Gromyko called me from New York. His mood was friendly and he used my first name throughout.

[Page 609]

He opened by saying that he had received additional information from Moscow containing details from their military in Germany, in which he expressed confidence, to the effect that United States military in Germany had attempted to change existing procedures on the autobahn. He emphasized (a) that it was not the Soviet intention to change existing procedures in any respect and that it was important for both sides (and he repeated bothsides) to adhere meticulously to existing arrangements; (b) he wished to underline strongly what Mr. Zorin had told Ambassador Kohler, namely, that the Soviet Government did not wish to create any incidents with respect to Berlin which might increase tensions; (c) he was most anxious that the recent incident on the autobahn not be interpreted as limiting or cutting across what Mr. Gromyko had said to thePresident about Soviet general policy during his visit at the White House. He asked me personally to look into the recent incident to see if I would not agree that our own military had attempted to change existing procedures.

I told him that I had looked into these procedures in considerable detail but that I would review it again. I said that our view was that our military had indeed complied with procedures well established by practice and that the incident arose because of what seemed to us to be a unilateral effort by Soviet military to interfere with such existingprocedures. I told him that some misunderstanding might have been possible because the Soviets may not themselves be clear as to our own procedures. I said that we could not accept any limitation of our rights of access by agreements on procedures that in any way limited such access but that Ambassador Thompson had talked about our practice with Ambassador Dobrynin and I felt that this could help to clarify the situation. I also expressedappreciation for what I felt had been the effort made by Mr. Gromyko and Ambassador Dobrynin to get the recent incident resolved as quickly as possible. He indicated his unhappiness about the recent treatment of the autobahn incident in the American press, and I told him that we were attempting to help the press to keep the matter in perspective and hoped their people would do the same.

With regard to a General Assembly resolution on bombs in orbit, I told Mr. Gromyko that Ambassador Stelle and Mr. Foster would be available in New York, beginning on Monday, and that Ambassador Stelle was in New York over the weekend if he were needed for any points of clarification. He indicated that hewould probably not take up the matter before Monday.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 36 GER. Secret. Drafted by Rusk on October 14.