156. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Bilateral Relations


  • Premier Maurer
  • Foreign Minister Manescu
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Malita
  • UN Ambassador Diaconescu
  • First Secretary Stefan Nastasescu, Interpreter
  • The Secretary
  • Assistant Secretary Sisco
  • Ambassador Pedersen
  • Mr. Lisle, Director, EUR/EE
  • Mr. Toumayan, Interpreter

Over the dinner table, after discussion of China and Viet-Nam, the Premier introduced the subject of US-Romanian relations. He wished to speak very frankly. The Romanians would like to see these relations [Page 427] closer, particularly from the economic point of view. Romania did not seek aid of any kind. It wishes only normal trade. This is extremely important to Romania. Diversification of Romanian economic relations is a guarantee of Romanian independence and sovereignty. Romania’s independent economic development enables it to be master in its own house. In previous talks with the United States, the Romanians have met with full understanding. In practice, they have met with many difficulties. Clearly the Romanians cannot pay the United States for what it needs from it in dollars. It can pay only in the products of its labor. This is the great problem in US-Romanian relations.

The Secretary expressed agreement as to the importance of mutual relations and the directions in which we should move. There are two problems which arise, not out of anything Romania has done but out of a broader context. We have asked the Congress for authority to give Most Favored Nation treatment. There will probably be hearings this year, but in the atmosphere of Viet-Nam we have very great problems not related to Romania. As to credits, the Secretary expressed hope that any Romanian difficulties were only temporary. He understood there was the problem of a glass factory (the Romanians all nodded vigorously). We are now asking the Congress for an extension of the lending authority of the Exim Bank. The Secretary explained the problem of the Fiat guarantees in the Congress.2 He asked the Romanians to be patient on credits for a glass factory until the Congress has acted.

The Premier remarked that when Romanian peasants don’t like something they scratch behind their ears. (He scratched behind his ear.)

The Secretary commented that he knew the Romanians would not like his reply, but, after all, trade was expanding. Maurer replied, “Not enough.” To the Secretary’s comment that after all democracy was a difficult form of government, Maurer rejoined that there were different forms of democracy and that we had built a very complex system for ourselves.

The Secretary emphasized again that the Romanians should not draw any negative conclusions as to our policy toward Romania from our current legislative difficulties. Maurer expressed understanding. He believed the United States appreciated as a positive political element the desire of Romania to be independent.

The Secretary, referring to his talks with Foreign Minister Manescu in previous years, reflected that perhaps he had at times given unduly encouraging views and had then encountered difficulties in carrying [Page 428] them out. He was sure, however, that once we had the appropriate authority the problem of MFN could be worked out quite readily. Foreign Minister Manescu said he always fully reported on his discussions and that his government was fully aware of the difficulties in the United States. However, there would be measures that could be taken if the United States gave due attention to the Prime Minister’s observations on Viet-Nam.

The Prime Minister expressed complete satisfaction with the discussion and said he was not pessimistic as to the evolution of our relations.

The Secretary said he was not at all pessimistic. He did not want to emphasize ideology. However, the Premier should understand the attitude of the American people. Since World War II we have had 250,000 dead and wounded, in the Berlin Airlift, in Korea, in Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. Only in recent years have the American people come to realize that just as there are differences in the capitalist world, so are there differences in the socialist world. It is not an answer to denounce “all those capitalists” or “all those communists.”

The Secretary recounted how Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and their Secretary of State had pursued every channel of possible agreement within the last six years. He mentioned particularly the Civil Aviation Agreement, the consular treaty, the Space Treaty, hopefully a nonproliferation treaty and, again, hopefully, legislation for expansion of East-West trade. We are trying to find a way to limit the development of both offensive and defensive weapons. There is no one more serious about organizing the peace than the United States. We know the extent of destructive power in the hands of frail human beings. We will in any case do our duty, what we have to do, but we know that to cage the beast of nuclear power is the greatest task of man. We seek to organize a genuine peace.

The Premier replied that the Romanians base their policy on the assumption that the United States is genuinely interested in peace. If they didn’t believe that, there would be no use in a frank discussion. However the Romanians don’t always approve the means the United States relies on to achieve its purposes. However, one of us or another, or both, may be mistaken as to the means.

The Premier expressed complete agreement with the Secretary’s suggestion that we should continue to exchange ideas, that both sides can learn something in such an exchange and perhaps new ideas would emerge.

The Secretary noted that we were only halfway in our discussion with Premier Kosygin.3 The discussion of June 23 proved to be more than [Page 429] a mere courtesy visit. There will be a further discussion and perhaps clarification of some of the issues.

The Premier hoped that this would be so. He holds Kosygin in great esteem. Kosygin is tenacious but a man with whom one can talk. Maurer has no reason always to be happy with him. Maurer has given Kosygin annoyance and Kosygin has given Maurer annoyance. Maurer hopes that solutions will be found which can have only good effects on international life.

The Secretary discussed the manner in which a hostile nature could make allies of us all. Science and technology open the way of cooperation. There are many matters of interest to all men independent of ideology and individual interest. There is no communist cholera or communist plague. All people need water. Wheat rust is a common problem.

The Premier said the importance of the explosive nature of scientific development and its penetration into production could not be exaggerated. We might be on the eve of a time when goods will be so abundant that their exchange value will become null. The leader in this process is the United States. Maurer does not know who will be the leader in the next stage but he thought that from the Marxist point of view the United States was the leader of the movement of capitalist society to its dialectical antithesis.

The discussion ended with the Secretary noting the manner in which starting from a highly individualistic point of view we had developed the concept of social responsibility for the welfare of the individual. Perhaps Romania could find a way by which the value of the individual could be fully recognized in a socialist system.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 ROM. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Lisle and approved in S on June 26. The meeting was held during the Secretary’s dinner at the Waldorf Astoria. Rusk and Maurer were in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting. Memoranda of their discussion of the Middle East and Vietnam are ibid., POL 7 ROM and POL 27 VIET S, respectively.
  2. On October 6, 1966, President Johnson announced that the Export-Import Bank would provide guarantees for Italian credit for the purchase of machine tools to be installed in a Fiat automobile factory in Togliattigrad, USSR. The credits were to support the largest East-West trade arrangement executed since the Russian Revolution. The following year the Senate blocked any U.S. participation. Fiat found credit elsewhere.
  3. For documentation on the Johnson-Kosygin meetings at Glassboro, New Jersey, June 23 and 25, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XIV.