328. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

2052. In accordance instructions Deptel 19312 I raised Article 19 question with Gromyko in my meeting with him this afternoon, noting initially that Secretary somewhat discouraged at the lack of progress resolution impasse.

Gromyko said he failed understand why Secretary should be disappointed since Sovs have accepted proposal of non-aligned nations which he felt was in line with Secretary’s suggestion as to how problem might be solved made to Dobrynin before beginning GA. Sovs were prepared to make voluntary contribution but insisted that this should be purely voluntary and no one should tell the Sovs how much they should pay or purposes for which their contribution should be spent. Sovs felt strongly these matters their own business. Gromyko felt suggestions as to size of Sov contribution were both “unrealistic and ridiculous” and in any case represented wrong approach to problem. He felt US should recognize that the Soviet agreement non-aligned nations proposal represented major concession and hoped it could form basis for realistic solution of problem to permit us get on with discussion more important questions.

I said we recognized that both we and Sovs have made moves to reconcile strongly held positions of principle and each should recognize these as concessions by other side. This problem is to agree on a compromise solution which would permit both sides maintain substance their positions—i.e. Sovs position would be met by voluntary payment agreement and our position to be met by assurance that payment was sufficiently large obviate Article 19 application. Briefly our position is that the Sovs are entitled to decide the form they prepared to pay and objectives for which contribution should be spent but such sum must be large enough to meet arrearages problem.

[Page 717]

Gromyko said obviously we in best position to know how our requirements can be met but equally the Sovs in best position to know how their requirements can be met. One thing is clear: “We know what we can do and what we can’t do; we have made concession and we cannot go further.” He admitted that the latest version of non-aligned nations proposal was not completely satisfactory to Sovs. They objected particularly to clause calling for “substantial” payment and provision that contribution would result in solvency of organization. Amended to meet these points the proposal would be acceptable. Gromyko felt US should stop raising impossible demands, agree to the substance of proposal and help to remove problem from agenda in order to permit us tackle really important questions either under UN aegis or in other channels. He would note that while President and Secretary speak of need to improve relations situation in UN is becoming aggravated and this somewhat inconsistent with professed aims US leadership. I noted that the latest version non-aligned resolution was not totally acceptable to US, particularly clause providing for suspension of Article 19. To US basic problem is to discover solution which would not violate position of principle either side. UN was drowning man but no use throwing preserver only half way.

Gromyko ended conversation by noting that it was Sovs who had life preserver and pointing out that he felt not much purpose carry on conversation since both sides could only repeat initial positions.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, UN 10–4. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to USUN.
  2. Dated January 2, it reported on the contents of a 25-page letter from Khrushchev to President Johnson, December 31, 1964, regarding the use of force in the settlement of disputes. The letter was delivered on the morning of January 2 by Dobrynin to Rusk. The telegram summarized Rusk’s initial response. (Ibid., POL 32–1) No instructions were transmitted in this telegram. Subsequently, circular telegram 1255, January 14, transmitted the draft text of a Johnson response and circular telegram 1254, January 14, provided instructions for its presentation. (Both ibid.)