10. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Tyler) to Secretary of State Rusk 1


  • Current Status of Various Bilateral Negotiations with the USSR

We are currently conducting bilateral negotiations with the USSR on three subjects of long-range importance, a Consular Convention, a Civil Air Agreement, and a new Agreement on Exchanges. The Consular Convention and the Exchanges are at present under active discussion in Moscow. The current status of each of these matters is set forth below.

Consular Convention 2

Recent developments in the Moscow negotiations for a United States-Soviet Consular Convention suggest that a possible impasse will be averted and that a useful convention will be concluded in the near future. The USSR recently offered us an important concession, promising that United States consular officials will be notified promptly and permitted quick access to United States citizens arrested and detained in the USSR. This concession is conditioned on our accepting the Soviet demand for greater immunities to be enjoyed by consular officials.3 We have reached agreement within the Executive Branch on accepting this proposal and Governor Harriman briefed members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning on the topic.4 It thus looks as though we shall be able to reach final agreement with the USSR in the relatively near future. The anticipated conclusion of a Consular Convention containing notification and access provisions to our liking will exert a positive influence on negotiations for civil aviation and exchanges agreements as well as set the stage for subsequent discussions [Page 19]concerning the reciprocal establishment of one or more consular offices in each country. Furthermore, the USUSSR convention probably will serve as a pattern for United States bilateral consular conventions with other Soviet Bloc States, several of which (Poland and Rumania) have evidenced interest in commencing negotiations.5

Civil Air Agreement

The prospects for the early conclusion of the United States-Soviet Civil Air Agreement which was negotiated but not signed in 1961 have improved as the result of progress in the consular convention negotiations and of Soviet agreement a few days ago to make available a leased line to facilitate communications between our Moscow Embassy and the Department.6 The Soviets are insisting that formal signing precede the starting of technical talks. Should the latter be initiated soon and barring a serious chilling of the political climate, it may be possible to inaugurate Moscow-New York air service by early summer.

Exchanges Agreement

Negotiations, which began in Moscow January 7, have now reached a decisive stage.7 Significant progress has been made thus far with regard to the specific exchanges to be included in the various thematic sections of the new agreement, with the notable exception of the section on informational exchanges (covering publications, radio-TV, exhibits, journalists, etc.). Indications are that the new agreement will increase agricultural exchanges by some 15% or more; educational and cultural-professional exchanges (artists, writers, musicologists, etc.) will increase very modestly; scientific, technical, medical, performing arts, athletic and motion picture exchanges will remain at the level of the last agreement. Soviet efforts to remove the reciprocal and other safeguards of previous agreements are still under negotiation. One key unresolved general issue hinges on Soviet insistence that the new agreement provide blanket approval for all future contacts between Soviet [Page 20]organizations and United States groups of their choosing. Although signature of a new agreement is expected in due course, it is not anticipated that these issues will be resolved before the latter part of February.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, CON 4 USUSSR. Confidential. Drafted by David Henry and Robert Owen (SOV) and Ralph Jones (SES) and initialed by Tyler. A notation on the memorandum indicates it was discussed with Rusk.
  2. Documentation on the negotiations for a consular agreement, which began in October 1963, is ibid.
  3. In a January 31 memorandum for Bromley Smith, Klein reported that the “last stumbling block” in the negotiations was the “question of immunities for consuls. The Soviets clearly want to protect their consuls from arrest for espionage.” The “gut question is what happens in the case of espionage, and here the State Department is satisfied that expulsion is an available instrument for dealing with this problem.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Consular Convention, Vol. I)
  4. For text of Harriman’s testimony, see U.S. Senate, Executive Sessions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vol. XVI, pp. 63 ff.
  5. Agreement on the Consular Convention was reached on April 28, ad referendum. Kohler and Gromyko signed it at Moscow on June 1. For text of the convention and President Johnson’s statement, see Department of State Bulletin, June 22, 1964, pp. 979–984.
  6. In a meeting with Kuznetsov on January 3, Kohler emphasized the importance of favorable action on leased lines, indicating it “would have some weight” with Johnson and Rusk as they considered direct flights and noting that President Kennedy had expressed concern over the time lag in telegram transmissions during the Cuban missile crisis and the nuclear test ban negotiations. (Telegram 2077 from Moscow, January 3; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–67 AV 4 USUSSR)
  7. Memoranda of the negotiating sessions and telegraphic reports on the meetings to discuss the exchange agreement for 1964–1965 are ibid., EDX 4 USUSSR. For text of the agreement, signed on February 22, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, pp. 648–663.