306. Talking Paper Prepared in the Department of State1


New York—September–October 1968


US–Soviet Bilateral Relations

A separate talking paper has been prepared covering multinational issues which you may wish to raise with Gromyko, such as Berlin, the Middle East and Viet–Nam.2

More routine bilateral issues are discussed below for the event that Gromyko may wish to raise any of them—perhaps to test our present [Page 725] attitude and to demonstrate Soviet interest in proceeding with business as usual. The moment does not appear appropriate for you to raise any of these issues yourself. Should Gromyko choose to discuss any of the following issues, you may wish to respond along the lines indicated below.


Opening of Consulates

The Soviets followed up several informal approaches to Ambassador Thompson last spring regarding the establishment of consulates by proposing formally on August 13 that we establish a Consulate General in Leningrad in exchange for a Soviet Consulate General in San Francisco.

Recommended U.S. Position

You may wish to remind Gromyko of your obligation to consult with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before talks on consulates are begun with the Soviets and observe that the present does not appear to be a favorable time for such consultations. However, we continue to have the matter under study.


Chancery Sites

The two unresolved issues concern the amount of land to be exchanged and the terms for renting Spasso House. Recent negative comments by Congressman Wayne Hays about the whole project, following the invasion of Czechoslovakia, is a new element.

[Page 726]

Recommended U.S. Position

If Gromyko raises the issue, you may wish to stress that the final decision on the amount of land to be exchanged must stand up to Congressional scrutiny, in order to permit early signature of an agreement. In this connection, we hope that the chancery site in Moscow will include the triangular piece of land in dispute. We are prepared to continue to pay our present rental for Spasso House until the present lease expires in 1985, and then renegotiate at the going diplomatic rate at five–year intervals.


Proposal for Discussion of Naval Incidents

Following the crash of a Soviet TU–16 aircraft in the Norwegian Sea while conducting hazardous buzzing operations around the USS Essex, we reaffirmed on August 13 our proposal of April 11, 1968, that U.S. and Soviet representatives meet to discuss ways of avoiding incidents at sea.3

Recommended U.S. Position

If Gromyko indicates willingness to discuss this proposal, we suggest that you confirm our continued desire for such a meeting and propose that the details be worked out between the Soviet Embassy and the Department.


Offer of Navigational Equipment

Following the incident of the Seaboard airliner, which violated Soviet–controlled airspace and was forced to land, we delivered a note4 to the Soviet Foreign Ministry on August 15 offering to lease navigational equipment to the USSR at a nominal cost for installation along the North Pacific route. We also renewed our request for additional information on Soviet navigational aids in the area. The Soviets have not responded to our approach, although a Soviet official in Moscow inquired on August 20 what we meant by “nominal cost,” indicating some Soviet interest. In order to demonstrate Soviet interest in returning to business as usual, Gromyko could indicate a favorable response to our proposal.

Recommended U.S. Position

If raised by Gromyko, you may wish to tell him that our offer still stands and that we would be prepared to move ahead on this proposal, since it is in our mutual interest to do so.


Law of the Sea Talks

U.S. and Soviet experts held exploratory talks in Washington July 13–23 concerning a possible Law of the Sea Conference. A second round of talks was scheduled to begin in Moscow on September 30; however, on September 16, we informed the Soviet Embassy that we did not consider it appropriate to resume discussions on the planned date.

Recommended U.S. Position

If Gromyko should inquire as to possible rescheduling, you may tell him that we have the matter under consideration and hope discussions might resume at an appropriate time.


Port Security

Last spring, the Soviets revived a proposal for talks on entry of Soviet ships into U.S. ports and American ships into Soviet ports. We informed the Soviet Embassy on June 26, that since the proposal was raised within the context of entry for fishing vessels, it would be appropriate to defer the question until the next round of fisheries negotiations. It is possible that Gromyko may refer to the longstanding Soviet [Page 727] proposal for talks on port entry and urge that discussions take place independently of the fisheries talks.

Recommended U.S. Position

If Gromyko raises the question, you may point out that the next round of fisheries talks will probably be held in December. We believe these talks would be the most suitable forum for consideration of the matter, since representatives of domestic fishing interests, who are vitally concerned in this question, will be on our delegation. You may also wish to comment that it is a poor time to consider concessions on this question, in the light of Czechoslovakia.


Fisheries Matters

Both the Atlantic and the Pacific Fisheries Agreements with the USSR will come up for renegotiation at the end of the year. We desire to proceed with the renegotiation and have tentatively planned for the talks to take place in Washington, beginning on December 4 for the Atlantic Agreement and January 8 for the Pacific Agreement. In order to prepare for these talks, we have gone ahead with a joint US–Soviet inspection exchange, permitted the Soviet research vessel “Blesk” to visit Woods Hole, Massachusetts, for a program of joint research, and continued plans for expert talks in the USSR in October.

Recommended U.S. Position

If Gromyko should mention the fisheries agreements, you might say that we believe they are in our mutual interest and desire their continuation. Cooperation in the fisheries field has benefitted both sides and we hope it can be maintained.


Jamming of VOA

Mr. Bohlen protested to Ambassador Dobrynin on September 19 over the jamming since August 21 of VOA broadcasts to the USSR in the Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian and Armenian languages. Dobrynin argued in familiar rebuttal that the USSR has a sovereign right to protect itself against hostile propaganda. He claimed that jamming does not violate the International Telecommunication Convention—which we dispute.

Recommended U.S. Position

If Gromyko should reiterate these views, you may wish to point out that by reinstituting jamming, associated with the “cold war,” the Soviets only feed the suspicions and tensions generated by their invasion of Czechoslovakia. You may wish to express your regret over this action which runs counter to our deeply–felt belief that freedom of information helps build mutual understanding between peoples and a peaceful world.


Ivanov Case

Convicted spy, Igor Ivanov, former Amtorg chauffeur, has been free on $100,000 bail since late 1963, pending appeals. The Supreme Court has set arguments in the case for October and will probably hand down its decision before December. The legal issue involved is whether wire tap evidence can be examined in camera or must be disclosed to the defense. If the Court insists on disclosure, Justice will be forced to dismiss the indictment and Ivanov will go free. The Soviets have made assiduous high–level efforts to bring about Ivanov’s release.

Recommended U.S. Position

Should Gromyko raise the case again, you may point out that it is presently before the Supreme Court and that arguments in the case will be heard this fall. If Gromyko should ask what action has been taken on the clemency petition submitted by Ivanov’s parents, you may respond that consideration of this petition has been suspended for the time being. You may also wish to point out that the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia has made it more difficult for us to examine ways in which the case could be resolved favorably for the Soviet side.


Social Security Payments

In June, we lifted the prohibition on the payment of Social Security annuities to persons in the USSR (Treasury Circular 655) and took steps to arrange for payments. A Social Security representative was in the USSR to discuss the establishment of verification procedures, when the Soviets marched into Czechoslovakia, and he returned without meeting with the Soviets. It was decided that talks should be deferred, and that we would take another look at the matter next spring. The Soviet Embassy has indicated that it is receiving queries from potential recipients, who contemplate returning to the USSR.

Recommended U.S. Position

In the event that Gromyko raised the question, you may wish to say that we do not feel the moment is opportune to hold such talks now.



We have cancelled high visibility programs scheduled for this fall, but we are continuing low visibility exchanges involving scientists, researchers, graduate students and professors under agreed quotas. The Soviets have complained that our “unjustifiable” cancellation of the Minnesota Symphonic Band involved a considerable loss to Goskontsert, the Soviet sponsor.

Recommended U.S. Position

In the event that Gromyko should ask about our intentions with regard to the balance of the recently concluded Exchanges Agreement, [Page 729] you may wish to tell him that it is not our present intention to suspend the Agreement. However, the United States Government and people did not consider the Minnesota tour appropriate in the light of the Soviet action against Czechoslovakia. For its part, the Soviet Union in the recent past has cancelled or postponed various scheduled cultural exchange groups for less valid reasons.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files: Lot 69 D 182, CF 316. Confidential. Prepared for Rusk’s briefing book for his meetings with Gromyko during the 23d Session of the UN General Assembly. Rusk went to New York for UNGA September 29 and returned to Washington October 8. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Books)
  2. Not printed. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 284.
  4. Not found.