299. Editorial Note

In a July 23, 1971, special channel message to Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger, Ambassador to West Germany Kenneth Rush reported that the Soviet consulate general had become the “pivotal” issue for reaching a satisfactory quadripartite agreement on Berlin. “The Russians are taking a very strong and unyielding position on this,” he explained. “At the same time, the State Department feels that they are strictly limited under the terms of National Security Decision Memorandum 106 and that they are in no position to agree to any flexibility on this issue.” In order to secure a “good agreement,” Rush requested authority to exceed his previous instructions. Rush assured Kissinger: “I would, of course, only agree to granting the consulate general if we have a very strong agreement on all other issues and if the consulate general were strictly limited,” listing ten conditions for its eventual establishment. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 2) Rush also sent a formal appeal to the Department of State, which Secretary of State Rogers denied on July 29. (Telegram 9190 from Bonn, July 28, and telegram 138285 to Bonn, July 29; both ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 17 USSR–GER B)

Ambassador Rush, however, tentatively agreed to the consulate general before receiving either the Secretary’s denial or the President’s approval. In a special channel message on July 28, Rush briefed Kissinger on his meeting in Bonn the previous evening with Soviet Ambassador to West Germany Valentin Falin and West German State Secretary Egon Bahr. According to Rush, the three men had reached a “tentative final agreement,” resolving virtually everything except the question of Soviet presence in West Berlin. Although he considered the [Page 883] terms “favorable,” Rush warned Kissinger that the proposed deal was conditional. “Without the consulate general,” he insisted, “it is questionable whether any agreement could be secured, certainly not one having the strength of what has been tentatively agreed on.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 2) Later that afternoon, Rush conceded the issue during a “concluding session” with Bahr and Falin. In a special channel message to Kissinger on July 29, Rush reported that the two sides had reached a “final tentative agreement,” including draft articles on both West German representation and Soviet presence. According to Rush, Falin was “very emphatic” that the quadripartite agreement contain the terms for a consulate general. “He said that not only was Gromyko absolutely adamant in this,” Rush advised Kissinger, “but that Gromyko had no leeway in the matter since his strict instructions had come from the top.” Rush and Bahr, therefore, approved a draft text that incorporated the consulate general into the overall agreement. (Ibid.) Two days later, Kissinger replied by praising Rush for his efforts. “I have put the Consulate General into an interdepartmental framework,” Kissinger added. “It will wind up in the desired direction. But it may take a week to ten days.” (Ibid.)

Bahr also sent a special channel message to Kissinger on July 30, reporting on the latest developments in the secret negotiations. In spite of the tentative agreement in Bonn, Bahr was concerned that obstacles in either Moscow or Washington might derail the agreement on Berlin. Perhaps Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko or Secretary of State William Rogers would disapprove of what Falin and Rush had done. Bahr, therefore, gave Kissinger the bottom line: “We should maintain the position that a Soviet consulate general will only be accepted if the Soviets accept Federal passports for Berliners.” He warned, furthermore, that the White House might have to overcome opposition from the Department of State. (Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1971, Volume II, pages 1198–1199) Kissinger replied the next day with congratulations on a job well done. After promising to support the German position on Berlin, Kissinger mentioned his trip to Beijing. “We shall take great care to make clear to Moscow,” Kissinger assured Bahr, “that we are in no sense colluding against them and that our desire for détente remains unimpaired.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 60, Country Files, Europe, Egon Bahr, Berlin File [1 of 3])

For additional documentation, including the full text of these messages, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Documents 270275.