158. Airgram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

SUBJECT

  • US-Soviet Relations; MFA Policy Planning Staff

REF

  • Embtels 3182, 31882

A–1757

On April 18, Ambassador and Mrs. Kohler had Ambassador and Mrs. Dobrynin for lunch at Spaso House. In addition to the Mott case [Page 388]and Ambassador Dobrynin’s personal plans, discussion of which was reported in the telegrams under reference, the conversation also covered the general state of US-Soviet relations, some of the pending bilateral matters, as well as the new functions of A.A. Soldatov, former Soviet Ambassador in London.

Ambassador Kohler referred to Gromyko’s claim in his speech at the Party Congress that the output of anti-Soviet propaganda “per square meter” is greater in the US than anywhere else, and asked facetiously whether Dobrynin was the author of that passage. Dobrynin said he had a chance to comment on the draft of the speech and had looked at that particular statement but Gromyko had drafted it personally and would not change a word on the grounds that it represented a “scientific approach”. In this connection, Dobrynin claimed that since last Fall, when the Secretary and Ambassador Kohler drew attention to the personal attacks on the President in the Soviet press (Embassy’s A–425),3 no such attacks had been published which emanated from Soviet official sources.

Ambassador Kohler noted the increasingly negative reaction of American opinion to the constant and vicious Soviet attacks on the US, and stressed that this would make an eventual normalization of US-Soviet relations considerably more difficult than the Soviets seem to think, judging by what we hear from some of our Soviet colleagues. Dobrynin acknowledged that the situation this year is more difficult than last year. He said, however, that on the basis of his numerous conversations in Moscow he could assure Ambassador Kohler that Soviet policy toward the U.S. remains basically unchanged, although while the Vietnam situation lasted the Soviet posture could not be anything but what it was now. To support his point, he also cited the fact that the Party Congress had produced no surprises.

As he did on a previous similar occasion (Embassy’s A–425), Dobrynin then criticized the U.S. unwillingness to ratify the consular convention or to sign the civil air agreement. The signing of the cultural exchange agreement was a good thing but despite the statements by the US that it wants better relations with the USSR, it has failed to act on other measures in which the USSR is interested. While the Soviet Government realizes that the President has to select his priorities, in view of this situation it has come to the conclusion that measures concerning US-Soviet relations have no priority at all. Thus, the consular convention was not pushed last year, and the situation this year seems to be even worse. While the convention is nothing very big, it has symbolic value. As to the civil air agreement, even the President said it could be signed as soon as the consular convention was ratified. The [Page 389]Soviet Government did not understand why the two were related then, and wonders what is to happen now. While a number of European countries, and even Japan, have entered or are willing to enter into an air agreement with the USSR, the US does not want to take even such a small step.

Ambassador Kohler explained that these were not purely matters of priority. Congressional figures-including those well disposed towards the USSR-have to take into account the fact that even if there were enough positive votes, any debate on such questions at this time would provoke a big argument further affecting US-Soviet relations. Dobrynin said he understood this but could not see how this applied to the civil air agreement.

In further conversation, Dobrynin confirmed the information the Embassy had reported earlier (Embtel 2939),4 that A.A. Soldatov, former Soviet Ambassador to the UK, is now involved in policy planning work. According to Dobrynin, Soldatov is to head a full-fledged Policy Planning Division in the Foreign Ministry, but the creation of that new office has thus far progressed only half-way in view of the difficulties connected with selecting and obtaining suitable high-caliber personnel. Viktor P. Karpov, presently Counselor at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, will probably be placed in charge of US affairs in the new division.

For the Ambassador:
DE Boster
Counselor for Political Affairs
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL USUSSR. Confidential. Drafted by Akalovsky and cleared in draft by Guthrie and Kohler.
  2. In telegram 3182, April 18, Kohler reported that he had pressed Dobrynin for further details on the death of Newcomb Mott. (Ibid., PS 7–1 USUSSR/Mott, Newcomb) In telegram 3188, April 19, Kohler reported that Dobrynin was returning to Washington the following week since nothing had developed about his being reassigned. (Ibid., POL 17 USSR-US)
  3. See footnote 1, Document 125.
  4. Not found.