12. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

2692. I met with Gromyko this morning for one and a half hours. Conversation covered not only bilateral issues but full range of problems now occupying world stage including disarmament, NAP, Cyprus, Laos, Cambodia. In his comments on Cyprus and Laos Gromyko adhered faithfully to past Soviet line and shed no new light on Soviet intentions but I had impression from his remarks on disarmament that there is perhaps some flexibility in Soviet position, particularly on bomber destruction proposal, which might foreshadow possibility progress at Geneva. Balance of this message will cover exchange of bilateral issues; I am reporting separately on broader topics discussed.2

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I started conversation by noting considerable progress we had made on bilateral issues since our last tour d’horizon in December. Specifically, we had concluded a promising exchange agreement, we had agreed on a program for cooperation in atomic energy and outer space fields, the Soviet had accepted our proposal to begin bilateral discussions on satellite communications problems, we had concluded a mutually beneficial wheat deal and finally, we appeared to be on the threshold of an agreement on a consular convention.

With regard to consular convention negotiations, Gromyko was aware that we had effected a fundamental change in traditional US policy on immunities in order to accommodate Soviet desires. This had not been an easy task for Washington and we had been able to secure agreement of interested agencies on a new position primarily on the understanding that the Soviet side would be prepared to meet our position on balance of outstanding issues. Recent attempts on the part of the Soviet side to amend certain convention articles had therefore caused considerable concern in Washington. I had only this morning received a message from Governor Harriman indicating that such developments could cause serious difficulties, particularly re ratification process.3 I hoped, therefore, that we could resolve current impasse through agreement to original US language on disagreed articles. Gromyko said he had not reviewed question in detail but he had impression that the negotiations were proceeding well.

With regard to wheat deal Gromyko noted that the situation had improved within last few days and he had understood from Dobrynin that this was primarily the result of personal intervention by the President. The President’s efforts were deeply appreciated.

I told Gromyko that the Dept, and I personally, were unhappy at the delays in reaching satisfactory settlement of the Soviet building problem in Washington. He could be assured that the Dept would continue to use its influence in bringing the issue to a satisfactory close although he would recognize that our influence in the matter was somewhat limited. Gromyko expressed appreciation for the Dept’s interest and noted wryly that perhaps Dobrynin should meet his house problem by erecting a large tent in Washington area and play host to the district court judges without showing them excessive hospitality.

Finally, I told Gromyko that while I was not informed on the most recent Washington developments with regard to the civil air agreement I was sure that this would be on my agenda for discussion in Washington. Meanwhile, I could inform him that the Dept. was gratified to learn of the Soviet affirmative action on our request for a leased-line.

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As I left Gromyko I asked him casually if he could give me any information on Khrushchev’s travel plans, noting that I had heard rumors that he intended to visit Egypt in the near future. Noting with some amusement that obviously I had access to secret information, Gromyko said Khrushchev had been invited to visit Egypt but until now no official statement on his plans had been issued. I believe we can interpret his remarks to mean that Khrushchev has in fact decided to visit Egypt in the spring and the current rumors that he will attend the Aswan Dam ceremonies are thus probably accurate.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 USUSSR. Confidential. Repeated to London, Paris, Geneva, and USUN.
  2. Reference is to telegram 2691 from Moscow, February 28, which reported on NAP and disarmament, printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XI, Document 16; telegram 2693, February 28, which summarized the discussion on Cyprus (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–8 CYP); and telegram 2690, February 28, which reported on Laos and Cambodia, summarized in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXVIII, Document 10.
  3. Telegram 2569 to Moscow, February 27. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, CON 4 USUSSR)