96. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

311. Subj: Talk with Soviet Officials on US/Soviet Relations.

At luncheon today at residence for Senator Muskie, Amb Dobrynin remarked to me ominously that Soviets were engaged in basic review of US-Soviet relations in light of present conditions and in the next few days would make important decision. I said I trusted this would not lead to breakdown of negotiations, discussions, and exchanges in areas of important reciprocal interest. Dobrynin replied this would not be the case and he later told Harriman he would be returning to Washington within next few days. We were unable to elicit anything further from him.
In discussion of Middle East, I expressed view Soviets now had greater responsibility and capacity to influence Arabs than we possessed with Israelis since latter had been sadly burned and betrayed by violation of standstill2 which in turn had led to more dangerous armaments build-up. In replying to Dobrynin’s argument that Israelis had found this excuse convenient, I said our leverage with them was diminished by that much more because of their experience last summer. Dobrynin offered derogatory comments on Jarring’s lack of initiative, claiming US could have promoted settlement had it taken up Soviet proposal of last June on peacekeeping arrangements3 about which nothing further had been heard. I said Soviet proposal almost a year too late since Sisco had invited Soviet cooperation on this question during July 1969 visit.4
Dobrynin declined to acknowledge there was any resemblance between present Israeli proposal on guarantees5 and Soviet June 1970 position, stating Arabs would almost certainly reject former but would have counter-proposals of their own. I said we had hardly expected [Page 290] Arabs to accept Israeli initiative but we could at least hope that Arab counter-proposal would offer reasonable basis for discussion.
On SALT, Dobrynin saw no reason to link offensive weapons with Soviet ABM proposal6 since latter stood on its own feet and was equitable to both sides. He claimed an interest in SALT “as former engineer,” saying he had participated in review here of recently concluded Helsinki negotiations.
Joining in list of complaints, Arbatov, and to lesser extent Gvishiani7 played up unsuitability of US as site for international meetings, which were constantly being interrupted by extremist minority groups.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 714, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XII. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 3.
  3. See footnote 6, Document 23.
  4. On July 15, 1969, Sisco met Gromyko in Moscow to submit an American proposal on the Middle East. The text of the proposal is in telegram 3485 from Moscow, July 15; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 653, Country Files, Middle East, Sisco Middle East Talks, April–June 1969.
  5. Reference is presumably to the Dayan initiative. See footnote 5, Document 62.
  6. Reference is presumably to the ABM-only proposal that Semenov tabled in Helsinki on December 4, 1970. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, Documents 115 and 116.
  7. Dzhermen Mikhailovich Gvishiani, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Science and Technology (and Kosygin’s son-in-law).