157. Letter From Secretary of State Rogers to Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko 1

Dear Mr. Minister:

Ambassador Dobrynin’s return to Moscow affords me a good and timely opportunity to send you a personal note containing some thoughts about our relations in the months ahead.

It appears to me that real prospects exist for moving forward on some issues which are of vital interest to both our countries. Progress on concrete issues would help stabilize the political and strategic relationship between our two countries. Such progress would be welcomed by other nations which are seeking to pursue their individual aspirations free of outside interference and under peaceful and secure conditions.

I am convinced that the current talks in Berlin offer a special opportunity to achieve such progress. The Four Powers continue to share important responsibilities for Berlin and Germany as a whole. Only the four of us, working together, can bring about concrete improvements in the Berlin situation.2 The present time, moreover, is particularly propitious. The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany is seeking to normalize its relations with the Soviet Union, and with its other Eastern neighbors. We support, as you know, this policy and have welcomed the treaties signed between the Soviet Union and the Federal Republic and, subsequently, between the Peoples Republic of Poland and the Federal Republic. The Four Powers now together bear the responsibility of [Page 457] reaching an agreement3 in Berlin which will permit these hopeful steps to lead to a more constructive relationship in Europe.

With our Allies, we tabled in Berlin on February 5 a draft quadripartite agreement in the hope that this could lead to a sound and viable accord. I hope that you will recognize its constructive intent and respond accordingly.

As I review developments in the Middle East over recent months, I am satisfied that progress has been made. Obviously, much still remains to be done, and the possibility of a renewal of fighting gives no ground for complacency. Nevertheless, the guns have now been silent for over seven months, and the peoples’ longing for peace has grown stronger. The United States will continue to work to promote a step-by-step negotiating process. The new momentum toward the goal on which all are agreed, the establishment of a genuine peace and not a return to the fragile arrangements of the past, must be maintained. The difficulties being encountered in the Jarring talks today are in large measure the product of the failures and suspicions of the past, and a solution will only be possible if it takes realistically into account the concerns of both sides.

With regard to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, I am convinced that conditions exist for making progress toward the highly important goal of these talks. My Government remains fully committed to achieving that goal. I believe that our proposal of August 1970—to which we have recently added a third ABM alternative—provides a sound framework for reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. This proposal takes into account the important and mutually recognized interrelationship between offensive and defensive strategic arms, an interrelationship which we consider must be reflected in the provisions of an initial agreement. We will study with great care and interest any amplifications or proposals your Government may advance which would take into account this interrelationship and which could provide a means for moving forward in this area of great importance to the two sides and, indeed, to the entire world.

In the period ahead, I hope that we can not only register progress on outstanding political issues which have divided us for many years, but also increase our joint efforts in mitigating problems which are common to mankind. I am thinking specifically of problems such as pollution, hunger, and disease. I am pleased, of course, by the recent successful discussions which have taken place between Dr. Keldysh of your Academy of Sciences and Dr. Low of our National Aeronautics [Page 458] and Space Administration.4 This agreement on increased cooperation in space augurs well for the future. I am certain that there are other areas in which similar types of cooperation are possible.

Although there will no doubt continue to be difficulties in our day-to-day relations, I hope we both can focus on important long-run trends and keep minor irritations in proper perspective to contribute to the resolution of the vital issues confronting our two governments.5

I am looking forward to seeing you at the next General Assembly of the United Nations, and the opportunity which it will present to continue the useful discussions which we have had for the last two years.

With best regards,


William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL USUSSR. Secret; Nodis. Rogers called Kissinger at 1:05 p.m. on March 25 to discuss whether to send Gromyko a letter: “K: On first thought, it might not be a bad idea. Gives them an excuse if they want to come back with something. Not that they need an excuse. R: Assuming this is true, and it might be, he [Dobrynin] said that in the [Party] Congress, if it appears there is great hostility developing, it could be a setback, but, if it showed friendly contact, it might be helpful.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 9, Chronological File) Sonnenfeldt suggested several revisions to the draft letter on March 25, which Kissinger relayed to Rogers by telephone the next morning. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 491, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 5 [part 2]; and ibid., Henry Kisinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 9, Chronological File) A handwritten note on the letter indicates that it was “hand delivered to Ambassador by the Secretary.” See Document 158.
  2. During his telephone conversation with Rogers on March 26 (see footnote 1 above), Kissinger suggested revising this sentence: “K: [W]here you say pragmatic improvements I would say concrete rather than pragmatic. R: That’s fine. K: That may give the idea we don’t mean our proposal. Pragmatic is the wrong word there anyway.”
  3. Rather than refer to an “understanding” on Berlin, Kissinger urged Rogers: “Keep suggesting we want an agreement. That’s what Brandt needs.”
  4. For documentation on these discussions, which were held pursuant to the issuance of NSDM 70, July 10, 1970, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–1, Documents on Global Issues, 1969–1972, Documents 237, 239, 241, 244, and 245.
  5. During his telephone conversation with Rogers on March 26, Kissinger commented: “Otherwise the only other suggestion is next to last paragraph where you say could contribute to [ultimate] resolution. I doubt we will have a resolution and we—leave out [ultimate] and say contribute to the vital issues of our time. It may not hurt and may help.”
  6. Printed from a copy with this typed signature and an indication that Rogers signed the original.