123. Editorial Note

After his meeting with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin on February 22, 1971, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger resumed his efforts to negotiate a quadripartite agreement on Berlin. Kissinger later recalled that Dobrynin’s eagerness for an agreement threw West German State Secretary Egon Bahr and Ambassador to West Germany Kenneth Rush “into a frenzy of drafting, complicated by frequent garbles in transmission of the long texts that were cabled to me in our backchannel.” (Kissinger, White House Years, page 826) As a result, the center of action shifted from Berlin—where the Four-Power representatives continued their formal deliberations—to Washington, where Kissinger and Dobrynin began to review draft formulations on West German access to and official Federal presence in the former German capital. In a special channel message to Rush in Bonn on February 22, Kissinger reported his discussion with Dobrynin that evening on Berlin as follows:

“I told him that if access principles were acceptable some formulation or unilateral Soviet declaration could be considered. Dobrynin suggested that I give him an illustrative text. With respect to principles themselves Dobrynin suggested that he was prepared to operate on the basis of the four power note though it would help greatly if we could include some Soviet formulations. Could you suggest a draft text of a Soviet declaration and also of an acceptable list of principles including perhaps some Soviet phraseology.

“With respect to Federal presence Dobrynin pressed hard for some indication of our thinking, claiming it would ease their problem on access. How much of your thinking can I give him on an informal basis?

Dobrynin tells me that Abrasimov has instructions to discuss some limitation on Committee and Party group meetings though you should make the first move. This implies that they no longer want them banned. Is this the time for it or should we wait? Please let me know before you move on it.

“I am seeing Dobrynin again on Friday [February 26] and would appreciate your answer before then.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1 [2 of 2])

Kissinger also sent a similar message to Bahr on February 22. (Ibid., Box 60, Country Files, Europe, Egon Bahr, Berlin File [3 of 3])

In his reply on February 24, Rush forwarded the draft text of an annex to the agreement (i.e. unilateral Soviet declaration) on access, which included a series of principles and detailed arrangements for the transportation of goods and people between West Germany and West [Page 360] Berlin. Although the West Germans were in accord with the proposal, Rush reported that the views of British and French—as well as those of the Department of State—were as yet “unknown.” Rush then addressed the question of negotiating tactics, especially in dealing with the Soviet Union:

“None of these changes have as yet been disclosed to the Russians. It may be that you will want to put them to Dobrynin as thoughts which would be passed on to us, if he agrees that they would be helpful in furthering our negotiations.

“The strategy which we now plan to adopt is to press the Russians as far as possible to finalize the access part of the agreement with two objectives in mind: (1) to enable us to allow the FRG and GDR to commence negotiations on the details of access, something which Abrasimov and Kohl have individually been pressing very hard, and (2) to enable us to proceed with the FRG to see how far we can go on the federal presence issue. Brandt thinks both politically and otherwise we can as of now give nothing more on presence until the access issue is resolved. It would be of great value if you could induce Dobrynin to accept this strategy and to assist in having Abrasimov instructed to proceed accordingly. We have agreed with Abrasimov that all issues are interdependent and nothing is binding until all aspects of the agreement are finalized.

“In the light of this, I do not think it would be advisable to outline to Dobrynin any more of our thinking with regard to federal presence at this time, except to indicate that if and when access provisions are tentatively settled, we hope to be in a position, with the concurrence of the FRG, to work out some limitations on the issues of committee and party group meetings and on federal offices in Berlin. Brandt told me yesterday that he feels that there is more possibility of give on the committee and party group meetings than there is on the federal offices. Politically, until we have a good tentative access agreement, Brandt cannot move on federal presence, nor can we. This is particularly true since there are no secrets in this regard in Germany.” (Ibid., Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1 [2 of 2])

Bahr also replied in a special channel message on February 25. For the text of his message, as well as additional excerpts from Rush’s reply, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Document 187.