87. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Secretary of State Rogers1

    • Coordination of Official Contacts with the USSR

The President wishes to achieve more adequate coordination of our numerous official contacts with the USSR. He wants to ensure that he and members of the NSC can at all times be fully informed of the status of these contacts and that our activities with respect to the USSR are integrated to the fullest extent feasible.

The President has selected the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Europe, reporting to the Senior Review Group, as the vehicle for serving this function. Accordingly, the IG/EUR, including representatives of department and agency heads concerned with one or another aspect of our relations with the USSR, should in the first instance devise effective means whereby our several contacts with the USSR will be [Page 270] carried out in a coherent and coordinated manner. These means should take due account of the need for prompt action when this is operationally required. When fully functioning on this matter, the IG/EUR should act as the coordinating body for our activities (other than covert) with respect to the USSR. It will also be the responsibility of the IG/EUR to maintain an up-to-date record of the status of all ongoing diplomatic and other official contacts with the USSR; it will further maintain an up-to-date projection of likely future contacts and activities.

This directive does not affect existing mechanisms dealing with certain aspects of our relations with the USSR, such as the SALT Backstopping Committee, the Berlin Task Force and committees already functioning within the NSC system. The IG/EUR will, however, be responsible for ensuring that heads of these existing groups are aware of ongoing and projected activities with respect to the USSR. Heads of existing groups, in turn, should keep the chairman of the IG/EUR as fully informed as possible of their decisions and the actions deriving therefrom.

The Chairman of the IG/EUR is requested to prepare a report to the Senior Review Group on the effectiveness of this operation after approximately three months, together with recommendations resulting from this initial experience.2

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 714, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XII. Secret. Haig forwarded the memorandum to Eliot on January 8 and noted that it had been “received from San Clemente early this morning.” (Ibid.) In a memorandum to Hillenbrand on January 18, Eliot reported: “the Secretary asked me to inform you that the procedures outlined in the memorandum [Kissinger’s of January 7] should not alter our internal procedures for clearance of substantive cables with the White House. This means that such cables will only be cleared with the White House if the Secretary, the Under Secretary, or the Under Secretary for Political Affairs deem it necessary.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL USUSSR)
  2. In a memorandum to Kissinger on April 10, the Chairman of the IG/EUR, Martin Hillenbrand, submitted the first report on the coordination of official contacts with the Soviet Union. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 715, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XIII) Although he considered it of “little or no value,” Sonnenfeldt forwarded the report, including several attachments, to Kissinger on May 29. “They are,” he complained, “merely massive compilations of ‘contacts’ ranging from absurdities (tomato and cucumber growing) to important events such as the resumption of Peaceful Nuclear Explosions negotiations.” On June 28, Kissinger approved Sonnenfeldt’s recommendation to “shape the exercise into one involving periodic meetings on Soviet affairs to identify and control action items.” (Ibid.)