70. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1


  • Tripartite Initiative with the USSR on Berlin and Related Problems and Gromyko’s Remarks Concerning the City


I recommend that you approve instructions to our Embassy in Bonn to seek quadripartite agreement on revised talking points to be made to the Soviet Government by the three Western Ambassadors. The points in summary would be:

We have noted Gromyko’s remarks concerning Berlin2 and we intend to study them together with the British, French and Germans.
Meanwhile, the Federal Republic of Germany would like to remove points of friction with the GDR and discuss with it problems concerning railroad matters, inland waterways and post and telecommunications. We believe that such talks would be useful.
The Federal Government might be willing to make certain compromises concerning its activities in West Berlin if this would promote a constructive Soviet and East German response.

I recommend that we instruct our Embassy in Bonn to initiate quadripartite consultations in the Bonn Group and submit agreed recommendations to governments on the response to be made to that portion of Gromyko’s speech which deals with Berlin.


At the NATO meeting last April3 the German Foreign Minister proposed that the Three Western Powers approach the Soviet Government and, after reaffirming Four Power responsibility for Berlin access, state that the Federal Republic was prepared to talk with the East German [Page 217] Government on the traffic of persons, goods, and communications between East and West Germany “including Berlin.” In subsequent consultations the Three Powers and the Federal Republic agreed on the text of talking points to be made to the Soviets. Direct reference to access to Berlin was eliminated at French insistence.

The initiative with the Soviets has not yet been taken. The French and apparently now the British concur in it. We might be inclined to delay an action which the Soviets could mistakenly think was connected with other current US-Soviet conversations. The German Government has, however, urged that we agree to move ahead.

Meanwhile, in his speech of July 10, Gromyko stated that if the Three Powers are interested, the Soviet Union is willing “to exchange views as to how complications concerning West Berlin can be prevented now and in the future.” The German Government considers that the proposed tripartite initiative is more urgent than ever in the light of Gromyko’s remarks. If we temporize the Germans will suspect that we are unwilling to act in their interest lest it jeopardize US-Soviet bilateral relations. We wish to prevent this and to do so before Chancellor Kiesinger visits you on August 7 and 8.4

Insofar as Gromyko’s remarks on Berlin are concerned, I believe that we should study them unilaterally and in consultation with the British, French and Germans before we decide on a response. I do not rule out the possibility of agreeing to quadripartite talks concerning Berlin, but I believe that we should first be sure of the objectives which we would seek.

A telegram incorporating these proposed instructions is enclosed.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 689, Country Files, Europe, Germany, Berlin, Vol. I. Secret. A copy is also ibid., Box 341, Subject Files, Kissinger/Nixon Memoranda. There is no indication of approval or disapproval of the recommendations, but on July 22, Sonnenfeldt sent Kissinger a memorandum that recommended his approval of Rogers’ proposed démarche to the Soviets. On August 5, Kissinger initialed approval for Nixon. (Ibid.) Two days later, Ambassador Beam met Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Kozyrev in Moscow to deliver the text of Beam’s oral statement; printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 65.
  3. The North Atlantic Council met in Ministerial Session in Washington April 10–11.
  4. Kurt Kiesinger, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, made an official visit to Washington August 7–9.
  5. Attached but not printed.