266. Editorial Note

After his meeting with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin on June 28, 1971, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger informed Ambassador to West Germany Kenneth Rush by special channel on the discussion of Berlin. Kissinger reported that, when he raised the Kvitsinsky-Dean episode in a “very low key way,” Dobrynin promised that the Soviets would henceforth “guarantee discipline” in their conduct of the talks. Kissinger, however, also issued the following instructions, linking progress on Berlin to his upcoming trip to Beijing:

“I am a little bit disturbed by the pace of your negotiations. It is imperative that you do not come to a final agreement until after July 15 for reasons that will become apparent to you. The ideal from our point of view is to make some progress but prevent a final conclusion until the second half of the month sometime between the 20th of July and the end of the month. I know this puts you in a tough spot with Falin and Bahr but it is essential for our game plan. Please try to tread the fine line between progress and ultimate success. Above all, please keep me fully and immediately informed. No on will believe what we did here.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1 [1 of 2])

Rush replied on June 29 that he would follow Kissinger’s instructions and attempt to delay a final agreement on Berlin until after July 20. “If unusual difficulties arise,” Rush assured Kissinger, “I’ll let you know.” (Ibid.)

In a special channel message to Kissinger on June 30, Rush reported on his meeting the previous evening with West German State Secretary Egon Bahr and Soviet Ambassador to West Germany Valentin Falin. Rush noted that Falin had been in his “usual relaxed friendly un-Russian mood,” leading to progress on such issues as the right of West Berliners to visit East Germany, including East Berlin. Rush expressed some concern, however, about carrying out Kissinger’s instructions. According to Rush, the three men planned to meet next on July 6, after Falin returned from consultations in Moscow:

“I think it will take some time for him [Falin] to work out an acceptable posture on Federal presence, but if instead he returns with one, we may have a small problem of avoiding embarrassment with the Germans as we carry out your time schedule. However I think it can be done by delaying consideration and final agreement on the issues of representation abroad and Soviet interests in West Berlin and by other means.” (Ibid.)

Before leaving Washington on July 1, Kissinger drafted a message for Rush, sent by special channel the next day, with some last-minute [Page 787] advice: “Could you not use my Asia trip to bring a delay by claiming difficulty in getting instructions? At any rate, keep things fluid until I am back from my trip and various things have fallen into place.” (Ibid.)

The full text of these messages is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, Document 262 and footnote 4 thereto and Document 265 and footnote 3 thereto.

Although he did not reveal his strategy to Rush at the time, Kissinger later recalled: “Once it became clear that there would be no summit in September, I sought to delay the conclusion of the Berlin agreement until after the announcement of my Peking visit. This would ease Soviet temptations to use our China opening as a pretext to launch a new round of crises. I succeeded, but only with some difficulty. Even Rush, like all negotiators, was getting carried away by the prospect of an agreement and procrastinated only with great reluctance (not knowing, of course, the reasons involved).” (Kissinger, White House Years, page 829)