231. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1
Moscow, January 27, 1968, 1500Z.
2606. Ref: Moscow 2604, 2605.2
- I think we can take some encouragement from fact that despite Kuznetsov’s first statement to me that Soviets would not act as intermediary, Soviets in fact have transmitted two messages to Pyongyang. I am also struck by Kosygin’s statement that Soviets believe quick settlement of incident is in the interest of all sides.
- Gromyko gave every appearance of being convinced that incident took place in territorial waters. If we could tell Soviets that we are prepared to make available to them copy of tape recording of report of Korean subchaser reporting its position this could dispose of that part of the argument, although I doubt Soviets would accept such offer and would say such tapes could easily be faked.
- While possibilitiy exists that Soviets were party to this affair, my judgment, based on their handling of the problem up to now and the general situation, is that they were not. They are clearly concerned over the way the matter is blowing up which tends to limit their freedom of action. Their distrust of our military is certainly genuine.
- Anything we can do to convince them that our purpose is simply to settle the incident and get our men and ship back would be helpful. For example, if we could find a way to let them know, perhaps in any reply President may make to Kosygin, that we have taken steps to calm down South Koreans, this would be useful. It would also increase Soviets possibility to pressure North Koreans if we could put Enterprise out of the area or at least from the vicinity of Wonsan. I think we must take Gromyko’s warning to me seriously.