90. Letter From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Swank) to the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Beam)1

Dear Jake:

The Secretary has not yet had an opportunity to record all the details of his private conversations with Gromyko before and after the dinner at the Soviet Mission to the United Nations on September 26; and under the pressure of business, I fear that he may not have a chance to do so. The part of the conversation which focused on the Middle East has been reported,2 but other topics such as Berlin, China, etc., were also discussed. I want in this letter to give you something of the flavor of the conversation on these points as conveyed to a small group of us by the Secretary on September 27.

The Secretary said that Gromyko had expressed considerable concern regarding the power of the “military-industrial complex” in the United States. He questioned whether this complex is interested in arms control and disarmament, and he also reiterated the doubts he had earlier expressed as to the intentions of the Administration given the latter’s policy on ABM’s and MIRV. The Secretary said that he patiently explained to Gromyko that firms engaged in the manufacture of munitions and other military equipment can easily switch to production of other products needed in the civilian economy. He said he also sought to underline the genuine interest of the Administration in opening SALT without further delay. Gromyko replied that he would transmit these observations “to the Central Committee,” but the Secretary [Page 275] seemed uncertain whether he had succeeded in dissipating Gromyko’s pat Marxist theses about monopoly capital.

The subject of China also arose, apparently at Gromyko’s initiative. He said that he was gratified to know from the statements of high officials that the US Government does not wish to see an aggravation of the Sino-Soviet conflict and does not seek to exploit this conflict for its own purposes. Nonetheless, he observed that other actions and statements of the US side raise suspicions that the US Government in fact seeks advantage from the dispute. The Secretary asked Gromyko to provide specific examples of such actions and statements. Gromyko furnished no examples, perhaps because he did not wish to pursue what could easily have developed into a rather contentious conversation.

On Berlin and the possibility of quadripartite talks, the Secretary sought to elicit some clarification of the opaque Soviet response to the recent tripartite démarche.3 As in the earlier discussion of Berlin on September 22,4 Gromyko dealt in generalities rather than specifics and contributed nothing new. Marty had a separate conversation with Falin at the dinner which he has reported separately.5

The possibility of Gromyko’s meeting the President during his US stay was not broached by either side.

The Secretary appeared to enjoy both of his sessions with Gromyko (a third focusing on the Middle East is scheduled for this evening), and he commented to us that they had got on a first-name basis. Marty and I believe that while the meetings were not very productive on substance (with the possible exception of the Middle East), they succeeded in permitting the two men to get to know each other. Given the apparent Soviet uncertainties concerning the policies and attitudes of the Administration, the development of this relationship is in itself useful [Page 276] and could in the long run be most productive. The atmosphere of both dinners was relaxed and cordial.

I hope that Peggy and you had a nice leave.


Emory C. Swank 6
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL US–USSR. Secret; Official-Informal. Eyes Only. Copies were sent to Llewellyn Thompson and Dubs.
  2. See Document 87.
  3. For the September 12 Soviet response to the August 7 tripartite démarche, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972. In a September 26 covering memorandum to Nixon, Kissinger summarized the main points as follows: “Talks would be limited to the four powers and would concern West Berlin; the question must be approached from the standpoint of European security, and the sovereignty and legitimate interests of East Germany; it is impossible not to take into account that West Berlin’s lines of communication are ‘along the lines of communication of the GDR;’ a normalization of relations between the GDR and Bonn proceed from the basis of ‘international law,’ and the principles of the Bucharest and Budapest declarations of the Warsaw Pact (i.e., recognition of East Germany, inviolability of borders, etc.).”
  4. See Document 81. For the Berlin section of that memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–76, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972.
  5. Reference is to Valentin M. Falin, head of the Third European Division in the Soviet Foreign Ministry; and Martin J. Hillenbrand, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. No record of their conversation has been found.
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.