20. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Peterson’s Negotiations: Shipping and Dates for Next Meeting

Secretary Peterson is thinking of September 15–25 for the next meeting of the Soviet-American Commercial Commission in Washington. He wants to know whether this is acceptable time frame, and, if so, whether dates should be included in the communiqué (Tab B).2

On Cuban shipping, the Soviets took one step back in response to Peterson’s proposal. He proposed that (a) no Soviet ships involved in Cuban trade be used until January 1, when the Maritime Agreement would go into effect; and (b) thereafter the Soviets would set aside a special group of ships that would henceforth not be involved with Cuba, North Vietman, or North Korea. A few US ships would be used during the moratorium.

Patolichev objected to setting aside a group of Soviet ships and proposed instead an arrangement whereby Soviet ships would carry cash cargoes while US ships would carry government-financed cargoes. Soviets would not bunker in our ports, however. He apparently agreed to moratorium, but this is not clear (Tab C).3

In a later head-to-head talk, Peterson made a special pitch for Soviet understanding of our union problems and how Cuban angle could blow whole deal. He asked that this be given high level attention.

Sonnenfeldt thinks that the best tactic is to let the Soviets think over Peterson’s presentations. Peterson may see Brezhnev in the Crimea on Sunday,4 but the result may be that there will be no maritime agreement to sign during the trip.

Comment: Peterson has not used the fallback position of one-time exception for the grain deal which must wrap up the maritime agreement. However, the idea of a moratorium and special group of Soviet [Page 50] ships is not dead, and would be the more favorable solution. It will almost certainly require higher level decision than Peterson’s counterpart.

Since Peterson departs tomorrow for Kiev, he needs immediate answers:

—Are September 15–25 dates acceptable?

—Should he make concession of one-time exception to reach maritime deal or allow matter to slide?


1. Because of your scheduling it might be best if the next meeting were in early October rather than mid-September.

2. On substantive issue, it is impossible to run the tactics from here, especially since Peterson will be seeing Brezhnev. The cable at Tab A5 gives him some leeway to work on a deal as he has already discussed with Patolichev, but advises him that if he cannot reach a satisfactory bargain, he will have to decide whether to use his authority to grant one-time exception.

3. That you approve the telegram at Tab A.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 953, VIP Visits, Pete Peterson’s Moscow Visit (Commerce), 17 Jul–3 Aug 72 [2 of 2]. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for action. Haig did not initial the memorandum.
  2. Attached but not printed is backchannel message 2759 from Sonnenfeldt to Haig, July 27.
  3. Attached but not printed is backchannel message 2760 from Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, July 27.
  4. July 30.
  5. The undated draft backchannel message from Kissinger to Peterson, initialed by Haig for Kissinger for transmission, reads as follows: “Believe you should continue as you have in pressing for moratorium until January 1, plus some kind of Soviet assurances on special company. Alternative of Soviets carrying only cash cargoes raises political problems you outlined in earlier messages. If this line does not work out, you still have authority to make one-time exception. You are in the best position to judge, especially after discussion with Brezhnev, whether there is some promise of maritime agreement along lines you have been exploring with Patolichev or whether you should move to one-time exception. While conclusion of agreement in Moscow is desirable, a few weeks delay would not be an unmanageable problem. Early October is better for next meeting of Commission.”