155. Airgram From the Embassy in Romania to the Department of State 1
- Meeting with Secretary General of the Romanian Communist Party, Nicolae Ceausescu: Romanian Policy and Bilateral Relations With U.S.
At my meeting with Secretary General Ceausescu on January 31 I had referred to a question addressed me by Foreign Minister Manescu during a previous meeting whether the United States correctly understood Romanian policy.2 I had assured Minister Manescu as I wished to do now that I was confident President Johnson and U.S. Government were well informed of and understood Romanian policies. I said the United States had followed with close interest the development of these policies in the last few years, particularly those in support of its national independence and in seeking actively to develop good relations with all countries. We thought Romanian policy generally sought to remove misunderstandings and to promote an atmosphere of détente which could make a contribution toward the establishment of lasting peace.
Ceausescu said I was correct in appraising Romanian policies. Romania was preoccupied with pursuing a policy of developing its economy and to assure the independence and sovereignty of the country and nation. These are the principles which guide Romania in relation to all countries. In current conditions these policies correspond to the general interest of peace. Ceausescu expressed belief that nations and national states will continue to have an important role to play in the life of international relations. “Life itself shows this,” he said. A healthy international atmosphere must be based on trust and confidence between States, and this means respect for the independence and sovereignty of each individual nation and non-interference in internal affairs. Romania believes in development of good relations with all States irrespective of their social system. In Europe Romania has relations with all States with the exception of the Federal Republic of Germany, but this too will be solved. (Comment: As all the world knew and indeed was announced in the Romanian press on February 1, agreement had already been reached between Romania and the Federal Republic of Germany to establish diplomatic relations.) Ceausescu said this would contribute to the creation of a better atmosphere in Europe. At the same time, Romania sought to establish and maintain diplomatic relations with all States in every continent, and the results had been encouraging.
Ceausescu then said he would like to say a few words about Romania’s bilateral relations with the United States. One could say these were normal. We do have economic relations and diplomatic relations, and recently there have been various delegations which have visited Romania. One could still say relations were not so normal, especially economic. Trade exchanges between Romania and the United States amounted to only a few million dollars annually, while with the Federal Republic of Germany, with which Romania had no diplomatic relations, the annual trade turnover ran to hundreds of millions. This was also true [Page 424] of France, Italy and Japan where with the latter economic relations were developing rapidly. “Why is it harder to develop economic relations with the United States?” he asked. We have no bilateral problems either in the past or now. Perhaps on the U.S. side there are some problems, but Romania has no knowledge of them yet. Perhaps the presence of war (i.e., Vietnam) represents a “sort of hindrance“, but still we could develop our economic relations. Relations between States receive shape through many aspects of contact: trade, cultural, scientific, etc. Perhaps the United States and Romania were in the platonic stage, but, Ceausescu added with a smile, the platonic stage of love is short-lived. In developing relations and friendship, economic and scientific exchanges are important.
Ceausescu said he wanted to be understood. Romania wanted to develop such relations to the extent the United States desired. What Romania cannot buy in the United States, it could buy elsewhere in Western Europe or from Japan. Romania does not lag behind in its economic development because of the lack of U.S. trade. Romania was not waiting. As they say, when conditions are ripe perhaps we can develop good relations. Romania understands when a government or businessmen do not desire to develop trade or to keep it at a certain level. We have no hard feelings. (Comment: Here, I think Ceausescu had in mind the failure of the negotiations with the Firestone Rubber Company for building synthetic rubber plants, though he did not specifically so state.) This does not have a negative effect on our relations with the United States.
Ceausescu then turned to Europe and expressed the opinion that we knew Romanian views. Romania had “revolutionary opinion”. Romania believes the Eastern European countries can develop relations with all countries without interference from abroad. Hence, Romania’s position on military blocs and the presence of military troops. Romania was not against the policy of European countries developing their relations with the United States or other countries. But these can only be good when they are no longer based on military alliances or military bases. Ceausescu said the Romanians had an old saying that friends are good to have visit, but if they forget to leave then relations grow cooler. The withdrawal of U.S. and other troops from Europe would not cool relations but, on the contrary, strengthen them. But this is a future problem which must find a solution. The longer blocs remain, there will be continued danger to the peace, and that is why Romania believes that both NATO and the Warsaw Pact should be dissolved. This position was not directed against anyone, but was a requirement of the international situation. When this was accomplished it would help to improve relations and contribute to the establishment of a lasting peace.
In reply, I expressed appreciation for his frankness in commenting on Romanian policies and our bilateral relations. First with regard to his [Page 425] comments on Europe, I said we could understand the Romanian position, but the question of the dissolution of the two existing military alliances depended upon the solution of the larger questions of European security and German reunification. This, in turn, depended to a large degree on the creation of mutual understanding and trust, about which Ceausescu had previously spoken, as well as solid agreements. I said I had already commented on the interest with which the United States followed Romanian policies of developing relations with all countries in support of its national independence and sovereignty.
Turning to our bilateral relations, I said I wished to recall particularly the words of President Johnson in his State of the Union message in relation to U.S. policy toward the countries of Eastern Europe.3 I said that in carrying out U.S. policy of developing better relations with these countries, we recognized there were points of disagreement, but where we disagreed we tried to do so quietly and seek out those areas where we could agree. We did not wish to continue a cold war but to end it.
The United States sought to increase its contacts with Eastern Europe including Romania in all fields: economic, cultural, tourism, and scientific and educational exchanges. The Administration had proposed to Congress an East-West trade bill which would give the President authority to negotiate trade agreements including the granting of equal tariff treatment. Speaking frankly, based on my own talks with visiting Members of Congress and on reports the Embassy had from Washington, I was not optimistic that Congress would take favorable action in this session on an East-West trade bill. Here, the Vietnam war was, as Ceausescu had said, “a sort of hindrance”. Nevertheless, I was encouraged for the development of our trade relations by the increasing number of American businessmen who had come to Romania during the last six months to talk with Romanian organizations and officials about trade. The Embassy did everything to encourage them.
I then referred to the upcoming negotiations between Romania and the United States for the renewal of a two-year exchange arrangement. Our exchange programs, though modest, had been growing, and we hoped to improve them further during the next two years. I also noted the recent Romanian proposal for three groups of high-level Romanian officials as well as directors of enterprises to visit the United States for an extended period. I said we interpreted this as a good sign and that the Embassy was recommending to Washington that these groups be well received and a program arranged for them where they would be able to see everything and to talk with those they wished.[Page 426]
Ceausescu concluded our meeting by saying basically he was an optimist both for peace in the world and for the development of good Romanian-United States relations.
I remarked that Washington did not intend to give publicity to my meeting with the Secretary General, but should it become known, I intended to respond to inquiries from my diplomatic colleagues in Bucharest along the following lines: I would say I had requested this meeting after one year in Bucharest to review our bilateral relations and certain international problems of mutual interest. Ceausescu readily assented to this and volunteered that the Romanian Government would not publish the fact of our meeting. (Comment: It is customary for the Romanian press, at least with respect to meetings between Ceausescu and Western ambassadors, to note the fact of the meeting the morning after.) As Ceausescu indicated, the Romanian press of February 1 did not note our meeting the day before. Note: The Department may wish to send copies of this airgram to other interested posts.