308. Message From the Government of the Soviet Union to the Government of the United States1

President Johnson’s observations on the subject of his meeting with Soviet leaders which were communicated by W. Rostow to the Soviet Ambassador on September 162 have been attentively considered in Moscow. In this connection we, for our part, should also like to express some ideas.

I. It has been noted in Moscow that the President has reacted favorably to our suggestion that in the course of the meeting there should be established basic principles affecting the limitation and subsequent reduction in strategic armaments. We, for our part, agree that simultaneously the general objectives of our two countries in this field should be formulated in a more detailed form.

On the whole as a result of the exchange of views on the question of restraining the strategic arms race it could, in our opinion, be stated that the two sides had arrived at a conclusion on the expediency and feasibility of achieving a mutually acceptable understanding on this question, and that the implementation of measures to restrain the strategic arms race would answer to the interests of both our countries as well as to the interests of strengthening international security, and that this would also generate more favorable conditions for solving other major issues in the field of disarmament.

Specifically, it could be agreed that the two sides would be guided by the following general objectives:

  • —To achieve and maintain a stable U.S.–Soviet strategic deterrence by agreed limitations on the deployment of offensive and defensive strategic armaments.
  • —To enhance the credibility of our efforts to prevent the destabilizing actions of other nations by demonstrating Soviet and U.S. willingness to limit their strategic armaments.
  • —To provide mutual assurance to each of us that our security will be maintained, while at the same time avoiding the tensions, uncertainties, and costs of an unrestrained continuation of the strategic arms race.
  • —To improve U.S.–Soviet understanding by establishing a continuing process of discussion of issues arising from the strategic situation.

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At the same time it could be agreed that the task of limiting and subsequently reducing strategic armaments should be resolved in compliance with the following basic principles:

The limitation and reduction in strategic armaments should be carried out with due regard for the integral interconnection of the two principal components of such armaments, i.e. offensive and defensive weapons systems.
The limitation and reduction in strategic armaments should be carried out as a complex including both offensive strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems and anti–ballistic missile systems.
The limitation and reduction in strategic armaments should be so balanced that neither side could obtain any military advantages and that equal security should be assured for both sides.

There could also be registered an agreement of the two sides, along with implementation of measures to limit and reduce strategic armaments, to study the question of taking steps to rule out the accidental appearance of conflict—fraught situations involving the use of strategic armaments.

In conclusion it could be agreed that special delegations of the two governments, guided by the above–mentioned objectives and principles, would promptly address themselves to devizing an agreement on the concrete aspects of the problem of limiting and reducing strategic armaments.

Agreement, reached during the meeting, on the above–listed aspects of the problem of limiting and reducing strategic armaments could, in our view, then be set forth either in the final communiqué of the meeting or in the form of a joint statement of our two governments.

There is agreement in Moscow that the achievement of progress towards a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam problem would be highly desirable.

Our understanding of what is required to secure such progress has already been communicated to the President and we are forming the impression that our position in this regard has, in general, been correctly understood by the American side. However, an exchange of views during the meeting on this topic as well could, we feel, prove useful.3


The deep concern about the explosive situation in the Middle East stated by the President and the desire he has expressed to assist in bringing about peace in that area as quickly as possible as well as [Page 735] his readiness to exchange views with the Soviet Union on this very important part of the world, have been taken note of in Moscow.

We believe it would be important and useful, without needlessly going into details which are subject to further consideration at other levels, to exchange views during the meeting and to register our agreement regarding the need to take all measures to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict and to prevent the resumption of hostilities in that area.

The conviction expressed by the President that a realistic and genuine understanding between our two countries is of vital importance to the assurance of a general peace and his desire that in the days and weeks ahead a good foundation could be laid for further development of Soviet–American relations in the future have been taken note of in Moscow with gratification. This corresponds also to our approach to relations with the U.S., including the question of a forthcoming summit meeting.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Chlodnick. No classification marking. The message is marked “Unofficial translation.” It was handed to Rusk by Gromyko on October 2; see Document 307. The Russian text is attached but not printed.
  2. See Document 300.
  3. In an October 2 memorandum to the President, Rostow highlighted the exchanges with the Soviets on Vietnam by providing excerpts from this message and Documents 299 and 307. He then passed on the following warning from Rusk: “Under no circumstances must Harriman know of these exchanges, he would resign.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Chlodnick File)