203. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

3564. Subject: February 18 Call on Kosygin-U.S.-Soviet Relations.

After raising question of equal treatment for Soviet vessels in U.S. ports (septel),2 Kosygin said that as to general question of U.S.-Soviet relations both sides must seriously seek relaxation of tensions. USSR does not want arms competition, it wants relaxation of tensions. Noting he wanted me to report his remarks to President, he also said all Soviets did in France and UK was not for purpose of putting those countries up against U.S. In fact, in discussing question of treaty with UK,3 he had expressed full understanding for UK commitments visá-vis U.S. Soviets believe relations could be improved without affecting alliance commitments, and were proceeding on same basis within their own alliance.
I responded by noting that President had asked me to return to Moscow because he hoped to have problems between U.S. and USSR resolved. I did not wish to be immodest and I did not know how much I could contribute to this objective, but I had come here in hope that I could make some contribution. Since Ambassadors now tied to telegraph lines, perhaps their role not as important as it used to be, but I would seek promote President’s objective to best of my abilities.
Kosygin concluded our meeting by saying this was exactly how Soviets had understood my appointment. Soviets had regarded it as a serious step by President reflecting his desire for improved U.S.-Soviet relations. As to my remark on the role of ambassador in modern world he had to disagree because in addition to his chair and his telegram wire, Ambassador had a head; if head was good people at the other end of wire listened to it.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL USUSSR. Secret; Priority; Nodis.
  2. Document 202.
  3. Kosygin proposed an Anglo-Soviet friendship treaty during his early February visit to London.