162. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • US-Romanian Relations


  • Romania:
    • Alexandru Birladeanu, Deputy Prime Minister of Romania
    • Corneliu Bogdan, Romanian Ambassador to the United States
    • Mihai Croitoru, Third Secretary, Romanian Embassy (Interpreter)
  • US:
    • Secretary Rusk
    • George R. Kaplan, EUR/EE
[Page 447]

1. Birladeanu’s Visit

Deputy Premier Birladeanu thanked the Secretary and US Government for a well-organized US visit which had been both useful and educational. His hosts throughout the country had been most hospitable and forthcoming. Birladeanu expressed his satisfaction with the joint statement he and Dr. Hornig had just issued, adding, however, that he considered it to be a declaration of intent rather than a solid program.2 The statement now needs concrete expression.

The Secretary noted that the cooperation and hospitality Birladeanu received had been spontaneous and genuine. He considered that the joint statement was a foundation on which a structure of cooperation and practical expression can be built. The Secretary reemphasized the US policy of promoting such cooperation.

Commenting further, the Secretary said that this US desire for cooperation with Romania would almost certainly be reaffirmed as national policy by our next President, whoever he is.

2. Heavy Water Plant

Birladeanu repeated the Romanian position that a US decision on whether to authorize the sale of a heavy water plant to Romania was of overriding immediate importance to his government, which intended to base its nuclear power complex on a natural uranium-heavy water model.

Emphasizing that he was speaking confidentially and off-the-rec-ord, the Secretary said that the outlook for US authorization had improved. He said that he had been personally involved in this matter, as had President Johnson, and that the US Government favored the sale on national policy grounds. Birladeanu would understand that there had been sensitive political problems over this issue. Repeating that he was passing this information on a personal basis, the Secretary said that approval now seemed possible before September.

3. Computers

Birladeanu asked if the Department of State would support and assist Romania in obtaining medium-sized computers. He stressed that any computers or technology obtained in the United States would be used only in the national economy and that there would be no question of strategic application.

The Secretary noted that the Department of Commerce actually approved such applications. He cited a refusal, in which he had concurred, [Page 448] of authorization of a sale to France on grounds that the equipment in question had almost exclusive application to the French military program. Three agencies—State, Defense, and Commerce—are actually involved. At the Secretary’s request for further comments, Mr. Kaplan added that Executive Branch judgments could be made only on the basis of specific applications for export licenses, which we did not yet have. The Secretary said that any US firm that would be involved would understand how to proceed, and he recommended that firm information be provided. Noting that he could not speak for the firms, the Secretary said that he was nevertheless inclined to encourage Birladeanu on this issue unless specific unpredictable problems were to arise.

3. Fellowships for Romanian Scientists

Birladeanu asked the Secretary about expanding opportunities for Romanian students and scientists to study and work in the United States.

The Secretary replied that Birladeanu’s question really had two parts. The first is whether the Romanians would be welcome here. The answer would be affirmative, the Secretary said, but Birladeanu should realize that the US Government could not guarantee acceptances by specific institutions. The Secretary recalled that when he was at the Rockefeller Institute, 80 percent of 300-odd foreign applicants wanted to go to Harvard. This was clearly impossible and impractical.

The second part of the question is financial. Who pays? The Secretary noted that already-limited US Government funds for exchanges had been cut 25 percent by Congress.

He suggested that the Romanians examine possibilities of raising funds on their own. One possibility, for example, would be for the Romanian Government to set aside 10 percent of the income derived from US tourists. It would be a great deal easier for us, the Secretary said, if the Romanians would do something like this and also increase the number of fellowships available for Americans in Romania.

Birladeanu said that the Romanian government was prepared to pay some expenses in Romanian currency. He mentioned an earlier conversation in which Chairman Seaborg of the Atomic Energy Commission had suggested that the “Atoms in Action” exhibit could generate hard currency for exchanges of specialists in the nuclear field.

The Secretary reiterated our desire to expand exchanges. He noted, however, that the practical problems still needed to be worked out. He cited the possibility that exchanges might be generated in the atomic energy field if the heavy water plant deal is consummated. Romanian specialists would presumably have to come here for training.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 ROM. Confidential. Drafted by Kaplan and approved in S on July 11. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office. The source text is labeled “Part II of III;” a memorandum of the portion of their conversation dealing with Vietnam is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Romania, Cables, Vol. 3. A July 10 memorandum from Read to Shlaudeman, attached to the source text, noted that at the request of Secretary Rusk no notes were taken for the portion of the conversation dealing with a heavy water plant.
  2. Birladeanu was in the United States with a team of six Romanian scientists at the invitation of Donald F. Hornig, President Johnson’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology. For text of their joint statement, see Department of State Bulletin, August 12, 1968, pp. 178–179.