210. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • General Discussion


  • Olavi Munkki, Ambassador of Finland
  • Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Acting Assistant Secretary, EUR
  • Ross Titus, Finnish Affairs

Ambassador Munkki reported that, from the Finnish point of view, the Secretary’s recent trip to Finland (May 31–June 2) was a complete success. The discussions between the Secretary and President Kekkonen, as well as members of the newly formed coalition government, were useful and friendly even if the principals did not agree in detail on everything.

The Ambassador did not dwell on the Kosygin visit to Finland (June 13–18) since Foreign Minister Karjalainen reported fully on the visit to Ambassador Tyler Thompson on June 27.2 When Mr. Stoessel noted that the cancellation of Kosygin’s visit to Sweden and Polyansky’s early return to Moscow from Ottawa apparently was caused by the need to deal with the continuing Warsaw Pact problems and the early August session of the Supreme Soviet, the Ambassador observed that Polyansky was, in his opinion, a “coming man.” He expressed surprise that Kosygin dealt with unusual frankness with the Peking-Moscow rift during his press conference in Helsinki, when he admitted that relations were very bad and that party relations were non-existent.

In reply to Mr. Stoessel’s question about the real significance of the Kosygin visit to Finland, Mr. Munkki described it simply as a confirmation of the amicable relations which have characterized the recent relations of the two countries.

Ambassador Munkki put the best possible light on the participation of Communists in the Finnish Government for the first time since 1948. As he had predicted just before leaving Washington on May 25 (government formed May 27) the three Communist-front SKDL members received non-critical positions in the Finance, Social Affairs, and Transport and Public Works Ministries. They thus will have to deal with such unpleasant problems as civil service wage policy and with price administration. [Page 552] The representation of the SKDL in the Cabinet also gives added security of tenure to a government which will have to undertake some unpopular measures.

Mr. Stoessel noted that President Kekkonen had visited Norway shortly after the Kosygin visit, but the Ambassador offered no further information than that it was a successful fishing trip.

Replying to the Ambassador’s inquiry about the Brussels Ministerial Meeting, Mr. Stoessel reviewed briefly the decisions taken at this meeting. He noted the continuing interest here, as well as among our NATO partners, in increased contacts with Eastern Europe. He confirmed that the idea of a European Security Conference, such as the Danes had suggested, had been rejected by the other NATO members as premature and that apparently De Gaulle had reacted coolly to a similar proposal made during his visit to Moscow. Ambassador Munkki agreed that such a conference would not be fruitful in the absence of more concrete advance plans to solve the present division of Europe. In his opinion, matters would improve if the West German Social Democrats got a larger voice in Bonn. He added that President Kekkonen and Foreign Minister Karjalainen were very unhappy over West German Defense Minister Von Hassel’s recent comment that the Finnish-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance (1948)3 was only an amicable agreement without obligations.

The Ambassador said that there is much pessimism in Finland over the prospects for the Kennedy Round, particularly over the intransigence of the Six. For Finland, he said, the big question is paper and pulp. Finland, of course, accepts the principles of the Kennedy Round but feels that it must have some of its own interests recognized, at least in matters affecting pulp and paper.

Mr. Munkki noted, perhaps prematurely, he said, that Finnair President Korhonen will be negotiating with Douglas Aircraft Co. for the purchase of two of the “stretched” DC–8’s, with an option for a third, costing about $20 million altogether. If the sale can be arranged the first plane would be delivered in 1968 and the second in 1969. Unfortunately, the news of Finnair’s interest in the DC–8 leaked to the press and the British already have started their sales offensive for the Super VC–10. This will make for a touchy situation for, although Finnair prefers the enlarged DC–8, the British are willing to use Finland’s export surplus with Britain as a lever to develop sales of the VC–10.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL FIN–US. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Titus. The meeting was held in Stoessel’s office.
  2. Reported in telegram 489 from Helsinki, June 27. (Ibid., POL 7 USSR)
  3. For text, see 48 UNTS 149.