285. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1


  • Opening of Consulates in the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.


That you authorize me to ascertain the views of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the question of opening an American Consulate General in Leningrad in exchange for a Soviet Consulate General in San Francisco.2


The Soviets proposed formally to us on August 13 that we begin negotiations as soon as possible with the aim of opening a Soviet Consulate General in San Francisco in exchange for an American Consulate General in Leningrad. This proposal followed informal approaches to [Page 680] Ambassador Thompson by various Soviet officials, including Ambassador Dobrynin.

I suggest that we respond favorably to the Soviet proposal. A Consulate General in Leningrad would provide us with a valuable listening post in one of the most important urban political and cultural centers in the Soviet Union. It would also enable us to maintain better contact with American students at Leningrad University, to be of greater service to United States citizens traveling in northern Russia, and to handle more effectively other consular matters such as shipping, estate cases, citizenship and visa issuance. Finally, it would be a positive and useful step forward in support of your policy of promoting closer ties and understanding between our two countries.

We estimate the cost of establishing a post in Leningrad at approximately $250,000 for the first year, with an annual cost thereafter of roughly $159,000.

We see no insurmountable problem with the Soviet wish to have a Consulate General in San Francisco. Mayor Joseph Alioto has already requested our assistance in encouraging the Soviets to choose his city. Thus, local cooperation appears assured.3

During the ratification debate on the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Consular Convention on July 30, 1965, I promised to consult with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before we considered opening negotiations with the Soviets on establishing any consular posts. (We will, of course, also consult the leadership and members of the California Congressional Delegation.) Before proceeding to ascertain the Committee’s views on this matter, I would like to obtain your concurrence.

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Vol. XXI. Confidential. Rostow forwarded the memorandum to President Johnson under cover of an August 20 memorandum in which he concurred in Rusk’s recommendation. Rostow’s memorandum is marked with a “ps,” indicating that the President saw it. A copy of the memorandum in State Department files indicates that it was drafted by T. R. Buchanan (SOV) and cleared by O/B, EUR/EX, SCA, and H. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, ORG 8 Moscow)
  2. The recommendation was neither approved nor disapproved. In his covering memorandum, Rostow gave the President the option of checking either “Approve consultations,” “No,” or “Call me.” The President checked “Call me.” An undated handwritten notation on the copy in the State Department files reads: “No action taken to date. Mentioned in NSSM 9. EUR/SOV will raise again at appropriate time. (per Buchanan)” A copy of NSSM 9, “Review of the International Situation,” January 23, 1969, is ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, National Security Study Memoranda, Box 365.
  3. Gov. Reagan could present a problem. [Handwritten footnote by Rusk in the source text.]