211. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Review of Current European Situation and US-Finnish Relations


  • Ambassador of Finland, Olavi Munkki
  • Assistant Secretary John M. Leddy
  • Finnish Country Officer, Eugene Klebenov

Ambassador Munkki said that he had requested the meeting because he planned to leave Washington for a vacation in the Caribbean and Finland, and would be away until the first of the year.

The Ambassador said that he had conveyed his Government’s views on European economic integration to Deputy Assistant Secretary Greenwald during his November 12 meeting.2 Turning to the recent EFTA Ministerial Meeting,3 the Ambassador said that Finland was ready to discuss a relationship between EFTA and the EC, but that the Finnish Government wanted to make clear its view that any agreement reached must be in accord with the GATT. The Ambassador said that his Government did not find the French proposal interesting, particularly as it did not include paper. The Ambassador summarized the Finnish attitude as cooperative but reserved. He noted that the Swiss appeared to be the most eager on this matter.

The Ambassador said that, after the Brussels NATO Ministerial Meeting,4 there had been a considerable amount of concern in Finland because of press speculation that had placed Finland in the “grey area.” The Ambassador noted that the Moscow press was now writing on this topic. Mr. Leddy told the Ambassador that all of the NATO governments are aware of Finland’s sensitivities in this regard. He agreed that the press speculation, both here and in Europe, had been less than helpful. He noted that the Bonn release had also proven detrimental. The USSR, he observed, was particularly sensitive to this sort of statement. Mr. Leddy stressed that great care had been taken in the drafting of the NATO communiqué to avoid the sort of misinterpretation in which some sectors of the press were now indulging.

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Ambassador Munkki said that he wished to express his appreciation for the assurances given his Embassy by EUR/SCAN to the effect that, newspaper speculation to the contrary, there was little cause for Finland’s fear that it had been placed in the “grey area” at the Brussels NATO meeting. Notwithstanding such formal assurances, the Ambassador said that Foreign Minister Karjalainen had asked if he could have a transcript or summary of the Secretary’s address in Brussels. Mr. Leddy told the Ambassador that he did not think it would be possible to provide the Foreign Minister with a text of the Secretary’s NATO address. He said that he would, however, discuss the matter with the Secretary and, if the latter agreed, give Ambassador Munkki an oral statement that might be helpful to him.

The Ambassador then raised the matter of the interview given by Herman Kahn on French television, in which Mr. Kahn, President of the Hudson Institute, stated that the United States had withdrawn its protection from Finland and had, in effect, dropped Finland off the map. The Ambassador asked what, if any, were Mr. Kahn’s connections with the State Department. Mr. Leddy said that he would attempt to get the text of Mr. Kahn’s remarks and that, subsequently, he might be able to comment on this matter.

Ambassador Munkki next informed Mr. Leddy that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is now before the Finnish Parliament. Approval, he said, is expected before Christmas.

Mr. Leddy, in reply to the Ambassador’s question about U.S. ratification, said that he did not know if there would be a special session of the Senate. The treaty would, he said, be the Senate’s first order of business when it did convene.5 Both the President-elect and the Senate leadership place high importance on the treaty. There was no doubt but that the treaty would be approved by a large majority. The Soviet Union will not, he said, move on this matter until the United States acts. Mr. Leddy explained that, while there was very little debate involved in Soviet approval, the USSR appears to like to maintain a sort of parity in such matters, as they did when they matched our delay in ratifying the consular convention.

In reply to the Ambassador’s question about the Balkan situation, Mr. Leddy said that we had no information at present that would lead us to anticipate any new developments in this area. Mr. Leddy said that the Yugoslavians are still quite concerned. Mr. Leddy noted that the recent Bucharest meeting of the Warsaw Pact and the reported Romanian agreement to allow maneuvers in their country next year may have served to satisfy the USSR. Mr. Leddy, in reply to a question from the [Page 555] Ambassador, said that the recent Dobrynin protest to Mr. Katzenbach, concerning NATO and the Mediterranean, was not surprising.6 The protest consisted of the usual Russian arguments; i.e., why does the U.S. maintain a fleet far from home in the Mediterranean, etc. We do not, Mr. Leddy noted, attach too much importance to such protests.

The Ambassador noted that Dobrynin appears ready to return home. He had, the Ambassador said, asked the Finns about shipping facilities for household goods.

As the meeting ended, Mr. Leddy said that we would be communicating with the Ambassador during the coming week concerning the Foreign Minister’s request for a copy of the Secretary’s NATO address and the Herman Kahn interview.7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL FIN–US. Confidential. Drafted by Klebenov. The meeting was held in Leddy’s office.
  2. No memorandum of conversation was found.
  3. The meeting was held in Vienna November 21–22.
  4. The NAC Ministerial Meeting was held November 15–16. For text of the NATO declaration, see Department of State Bulletin, December 9, 1968, pp. 595–597.
  5. The Senate approved the treaty on March 13, 1969. For text, see 21 UST 483.
  6. Documentation regarding the Soviet protest is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XIV.
  7. The pertinent passage of the Kahn interview (taped in New York by BBC and the French Television Service, ORTF) was obtained December 3 and passed to the Ambassador. In addition, Amembassy Helsinki was instructed to tell the Foreign Office that Mr. Kahn is not an official of this Government and that his occasional service as a DOD consult-ant does not mean that his views reflect American military policy thinking. A partial text of the Kahn interview is attached. [Footnote in the source text. The text is not printed. In his interview Kahn stated: “For example, if the Russians attacked Finland, I would be surprised if the Americans intervened. We have crossed the country off the map.”]