224. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State1
Secto 14. Secretary’s dinner for Gromyko, June 21, 1967. Following is based on uncleared memcon, subject to revision on review, FYI, Noforn.
Present on the Soviet side were Gromyko, Dobrynin, Federenko, Sukhodrev. US side was Secretary, Ambassador Goldberg, Ambassador Thompson and Stoessel.
Dinner began 8:15 p.m., ended 11:30 p.m. Atmosphere business-like. Following is summary of discussion which took place before all those present.2 In addition, Secretary had several private exchanges with Gromyko.
Non-Proliferation Treaty—Secretary said we had instructed our representative in Geneva to agree to tabling NPT with blank Article III3 on understanding this article could be discussed further by US and Soviets subsequent to tabling. This could give other countries, particularly non-aligned, a chance to discuss other provisions of treaty. Gromyko said he felt it would be preferable to agree between us on Article III before tabling treaty; in the long run, this procedure would save time.
On subject controls, Gromyko said we should use international organizations, not special groups or blocs which would involve discrimination. [Page 503] Thompson thought this procedure would mean loss of signatures of important countries but Gromyko felt we should not be too pessimistic on this score. Secretary noted EURATOM countries couldn’t agree to Gromyko’s suggestion because de Gaulle has veto. He thought Soviets might use their influence with French to overcome this problem but Gromyko said Soviets had already explained this to French, who did not agree.
Gromyko did not exclude possibility of tabling draft NPT with blank Article III. Even this might be a step forward. However, he felt other clauses of draft would be looked at as well. Re amendments he wondered if we were not worried about possibility that other countries would not be obliged to adopt amendments agreed between nuclear powers. Secretary responded negatively, noting that under our constitution we cannot accept situations where other countries could make treaty binding on US without our agreement. Secretary said that, of two alternate texts for amendments clause, we would prefer shorter version providing for agreement between nuclear signatories. This might cause problems with some non-nuclear powers but we have talked to NATO allies about both alternatives and there appears to be no problem on shorter version.
Secretary raised question of duration NPT. Some countries feel they should not bind themselves forever; however, we feel withdrawal clause should take care of problem. Gromyko asked what length of time might be acceptable if limit had to be placed on duration of NPT. Secy said some countries have mentioned 25 years. Gromyko did not specifically object, saying only, “In any case, treaty must be for long period of time.”
Gromyko cautioned that even if Sovs agreed to table with blank Art III some further time might be needed on their side for consultation with allies. Secy said we had taken care of this with NATO allies at Luxembourg and were prepared to go ahead at any time.
- Exchange of Embassy Sites—There was brief discussion this subject with Secy emphasizing the ball now is in Sov court. Gromyko was uninformed on details, although Dobrynin said problem seemed to be that we had upped our demands as to site in Moscow. Thompson explained our need for Congressional approval of transaction before final agreement for exchange of sites can be reached and emphasized necessity for obtaining a satisfactory site in Moscow.
- Consular Treaty—Secy asked when Sovs would ratify. Gromyko responded that Sovs would ratify; their procedures were not yet fully completed but he foresaw no particular problem.
- Outer Space Treaty—Queried on exchange of ratifications for OST, Gromyko said there should be no difficulty and only question was to establish mutually convenient time.
- Civil Air Agreement—Sovs said only problem holding them up was their desire use new jet transport plane on Moscow-NY service. Gromyko said IL–62 is already in use on Moscow-Khabarovsk run transporting cargo, but was still considered experimental since it had not passed all of its tests.
Viet-Nam—After dinner, Secy turned to Viet-Nam asking if Sovs saw any procedures which could be used open up question for discussion. We are prepared for bilateral talks, a new Geneva conf, UN talks direct contacts with Hanoi-anything which could help bring conflict to an end.
Gromyko, speaking for the first time during evening in Russian through interpreter, said one of methods Secy suggested could bring prospects for positive development, i.e., contacts between two sides. However, for this, an atmosphere must be created which would be conducive to talks and this must involve unconditional cessation of bombing of DRV. Gromyko recalled that in past contacts between two sides had seemed to be developing but had broken off as result US escalation of bombing attacks. He thought there were possibilities for us to find solution to present highly complex situation if as first step we agreed to unconditional cessation of bombing.
Secy said Hanoi’s position seems to be that pause in bombing is insufficient; that there must be permanent and unconditional cessation of bombing while they refuse to stop hostile activities on their side. Gromyko replied Sovs could not conduct negotiations for Hanoi. Only way to find out what would happen is to stop bombing unconditionally. Sovs did not know whether DRV would insist on formal statements in connection with cessation. Only way to find out is to take step of stopping bombing. Secy called attention to presence of two or three DRV divisions near DMZ and to continuation of Viet Cong attacks in SVN during period in December when contacts were being sought through Poles. We had agreed to keep our bombing attacks ten miles away from center Hanoi and did this for several months but there was no reciprocity from DRV or Viet Cong.
Secy noted our last efforts to make contact through DRV reps in Moscow. He did not know if it was worthwhile to make another effort, but we were prepared to undertake it.
Gromyko said we were turning things topsy-turvey in wanting talks to precede end to bombing. Only way in which to create situation where talks could mature is to stop bombing unconditionally.
Gromyko then developed thesis that fighting in SVN was result national liberation struggle not directed from Hanoi. We were wrong to attempt shift blame for fighting to Hanoi. We should stop bombing DRV and should put questions of political prestige into the background. Sovs are convinced DRV will defend its rights to existence indefinitely [Page 505] and if we count on successful military outcome we are making mistake. This could cause not only great sacrifices for us but also involve great dangers of widening conflict. Gromyko said US seems to underestimate importance of what Sovs say on this subject. Gromyko doubted if other possibilities for solution mentioned earlier by Secretary, such as Geneva conf or UN, were realistic because necessary agreement by interested parties could not be obtained.
In response Goldberg’s question as to how we could find out manner in which Hanoi would interpret pause in bombing on our part, Gromyko said it would not be difficult for us to find out. He could not speak for DRV or transmit proposals to them. He thought we were exaggerating the problem. We should first have unconditional cessation of bombing and then we could have discussions. Secy asked what would happen if we stopped-would divisions on other side attack? Gromyko replied that if bombing ceased, conditions would be created for establishing contacts and with contacts this type of problem could be discussed.
Secy again returned to problem of reciprocity. Ten thousand Americans have been killed in Viet-Nam and our people would not understand if attacks continued in South while we discontinued in North. Gromyko asked why he proceeded on supposition that attacks in South would continue. We should find out ourselves.
Laos—Secy wondered if there was any possibility solving situation in Laos. He felt it was capable of being solved in short time. Gromyko rejoined that our growing interference is basic problem. Sovs were worried about our behavior in Laos which weakens arguments for observing Laos agreements. Sovs are not present in Laos, but US is. Secy asked if Sovs would be prepared to call for full agreement of all parties re observance of Lao agreement. Gromyko said Sovs were ready if we were, but US was in Laos and they were not. Secy pointed to 6,000 NVN troops left in northern Laos after agreements but Gromyko said this was one-sided information and fact remained US was interfering in Laos. US was not in a good position to talk on non-interference in that country, whereas there is not one Sov soldier there.
Secy urged that Sovs use their influence as co-chairman to bring about observance of agreement but Gromyko repeated our presence weakens their position as co-chairman. When Secy pressed Gromyko to join with other co-chairman to get all contending parties out of Laos, Gromyko said it would be better for ICC to undertake such responsibility.
Secy said our understanding of Harriman-Pushkin agreement was that three powers of ICC could not use veto to restrict ICC activities. Gromyko said Sovs had different interpretation. Gromyko said there should be discussion between three political parties in Laos. He thought we were complicating coordination among the three parties [Page 506] and he asserted our influence was greater with Souvanna Phouma than that of Sovs.
After inconclusive discussion of background of assassination of former FonMin Pholsema, in which Gromyko sharply disagreed with views of US side, Gromyko said in response to Secy’s plea that we all act to support original agreement in Laos that Sovs would like to see agreement and are prepared to consider “realistic proposals” without prejudice. Gromyko did not exclude Sovs would revert to Laos problem again.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, ORG 7 S. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Passed to the White House.↩
- Seven memoranda of conversation were prepared for this meeting, which was held in Rusk’s apartment at the Waldorf Towers: Part 1 is on the Non-Proliferation Treaty; part 2 is on the exchange of Embassy sites; part 3 is on Soviet ratification of the Consular Convention; part 4 is on the ratification of the Outer Space Treaty; part 5 is on the Civil Air Agreement; part 6 is on Vietnam; and part 7 is on Laos. All are in the Department of State, Kohler Files: Lot 71 D 460, Rusk/Gromyko Memoranda of Conversation.↩
- For additional discussion during 1967 of Article III, known as the safeguards article, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XI, Documents 172, 188–189, 198–199, 205–206, 208, 211–212, 214–216, and 218–223.↩