261. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Hartman) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

US-Soviet Bilateral Relations and Angola

The Problem

In view of the uncompromising Soviet line on Angola, we need guidance on how to handle a number of bilateral issues which will be coming up in the months ahead.


Since your Moscow trip, there has been no decline in the level of Soviet and Cuban support to the MPLA. Soviet public statements maintain a calculated ambiguity, with an eye to diplomatic damage-limitation. If the collapse of the UNITA and FNLA position continues apace, the most visible stage of the Angola conflict may soon be over. But the Soviets seem to be preparing a rationale for continued Cuban/Soviet presence in an anti-guerrilla role.

Should the Soviet position continue to play out along these lines, we will want to consider carefully how we deal with Moscow on bilateral matters in the months ahead. There is little chance that any actions we can take in these areas will deflect the Soviets from their course. But highly visible moves with the Soviets would be perceived by third countries and our own public as an indication that we have accommodated to the Soviet role in Angola. By the same token, a perceptible cooling of the atmosphere would reinforce the point that the Kremlin must pay a price for efforts to exploit local situations. The US response must be fine-tuned, however, particularly if we should be able to present a SALT agreement to the Congress and the public this year.

In listing those items which are coming up for decision in the area of USUSSR relations, we leave aside negotiations or meetings which [Page 996] are either so minor as to be unnoticeable or so clearly in our interest as to make the importance of moving ahead self-evident. Aside from SALT, examples are:

TTB/PNE talks, now resumed in Moscow

Oil negotiations, now under way in Washington

Fisheries bilaterals, scheduled for February in Washington

Marine cargo insurance talks, set for London in March

Hotline negotiations in Moscow in March

Civil Air negotiations, which we hope will lead to a fairer shake for US companies through pooling. They are to take place in Moscow by June.

Incidents at Sea talks pursuant to the 1973 agreement in Moscow in May.2

Consular review talks in the context of CSCE which are tentatively set for sometime in the Spring.

There are a number of other items in this category, including regularly scheduled working-level meetings under bilateral cooperative agreements, performing arts groups and exhibits which are already touring in both countries.

The second category of events includes those which are visible and stoppable which we can see coming down the road in the January–July time frame. In some cases, we will need to ask again for decisions on these matters as they get closer, but in the meantime we need some signals as to how to proceed.

Matters for Decision

Joint Commercial Commission Meeting. Treasury and Commerce want to hold this year’s session on April 12–13 in Washington. It would involve Secretary Simon and Patolichev and would draw little attention here but fairly extensive publicity in the USSR. Simon is very anxious to get your approval to hold the meeting at that time and to proceed now with the planning. Barring a change in the Soviet posture in Angola, we recommend delaying it and the experts’ working group, which will precede it, to the second half of 1976.3

Cabinet Level Meetings

FEA Administrator Zarb and ERDA Chief Seamans are scheduled to attend a March 15 meeting in the USSR of the USUSSR Joint Energy Committee. HUD Secretary Carla Hills wishes to propose mid-May dates to the Soviets for the Joint Housing and Construction Committee [Page 997] meetings in Moscow. HEW Secretary Mathews has accepted an invitation from the Soviet Minister of Health to visit—tentatively in late Spring–early Summer.

On the Energy Committee meeting, which has already been postponed at our initiative a number of times, we recommend that we go ahead with the meetings, but that either Zarb or Seamans drop off the delegation.4

On HUD Secretary Hills’ preference for a mid-May meeting, we recommend we inform HUD that we would like to see the meeting delayed until after the middle of the year.5

On HEW Secretary Matthews, we recommend no action until the Soviets come back with firm dates.6

Bicentennial Events

We are pressing the Soviets for permission to hold a Bicentennial exhibit in Moscow this year in exchange for a Soviet national exhibit in the US in 1977. We have invited the Soviets to send a sailing ship to “Opsail,” a bicentennial review in New York followed by port calls. They have refused an invitation to send a warship to the bicentennial Naval review in New York and will probably not accept a similar invitation extended by the Mayor of San Francisco. We recommend letting the negotiations for the US exhibit proceed and the sailing ship invitation stand.7

Space Cooperation

NASA is pressing to meet with Soviet space officials to discuss cooperative efforts following the Apollo–Soyuz flight. The meeting has [Page 998] been postponed several times and is now tentatively set for February. We do not anticipate that the meeting will lead to concrete results or publicity and recommend that planning go forward.8

The items listed above need attention because of their visibility more than their substantive importance to us or the Soviet Union. There are other areas, however, which are both visible and intrinsically important.

Computer Sales

US agencies (including DOD) are considering a scaled down IBM proposal for a computer for Intourist. The risk of diverting computer capacity for KGB use is marginal in the case of this proposal as compared with the previous one, but approval will still draw fire from conservatives and especially from Senator Jackson. A Control Data request for approval of the sale of a very large $15 million computer for the Soviet Hydrometeorological Center is under active consideration, and CDC representatives are actively seeking approval for the sale. IBM and other manufacturers have submitted license applications for new computer sales totalling some $12 million for use in fields such as truck and machine tool manufacture. We recommend continued processing of license applications but with a hold on sensitive projects.9

Consultations on Outer Space Issues at UN

We have scheduled bilateral consultations with the Soviets in London, in mid-February, on outer space issues under discussion at the UN (e.g. the draft moon treaty, direct satellite television broadcasting, remote sensing of earth). These bilaterals will take place concomitantly with the IMARSAT meeting, will attract no public attention, and are a continuing part of our effort to coordinate with Moscow on UN affairs to the extent possible and, especially, to prevent surprise Soviet grandstand plays at the UN. We thus recommend that these consultations proceed as scheduled.10

Long-Term Trade and Joint Ventures

US firms are seeking working-level guidance from us before proceeding to negotiate with the Soviets on such long-term projects as construction of a spark-plug plant, and facilities for producing numerically [Page 999] controlled machine tools. US firms remain interested in the North Star LNG project and other major projects such as Sakhalin and Caspian Sea oil drilling, urea and potash deals, etc. And we expect the Soviets to come to us for more short and medium term commercial credits. The business community is looking for guidance on how to proceed. But public positive signals would be out of place in the Angola context and setting a negative tone would make it difficult to get things back on track at a later date. We recommend that we restrict ourselves to privately advising US firms on the working level that we see no reason for them not to proceed with any negotiation which they believe offers commercial benefits.11

Consultations on Soviet Proposal on Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Soviets suggested bilateral discussions in Moscow on the Soviet initiatives. We must complete our NSSM just getting underway on this subject before we can engage on substantive discussions. We recommend that Ambassador Stoessel be instructed not to approach the Soviets but, if they contact him, to reply that we will be in touch with regard for bilaterals upon completion of our internal studies.12

Middle East Bilaterals

We do not believe that considerations unrelated to the Middle East should affect our position on the timing of bilaterals in Moscow or Washington.13

Bilateral Discussions on CSCE Implementation

It is time to renew our discussions in Moscow on CSCE implementation and we are staffing out an approach which reiterates our interest in Basket III while making some modest steps in areas of interest to the Soviets, such as travel controls. The approach includes the review of consular matters referred to above. We think we should proceed in view of our commitment to follow up on CSCE.14

Kiev and New York Consulates

The Soviets have their New York building; we are about to select ours in Kiev. We are tentatively planning to send an advance party to Kiev this summer to start preparations for renovating our new [Page 1000] building. The actual simultaneous opening of consulates is at least a year away, and we recommend proceeding with our preparations.

Moscow and Washington Chanceries

We continue to hold out permission to the Soviets to begin the apartment section of their complex here if they satisfy us on some points, including the cost of our Moscow project. We have already sold this horse several times; we recommend letting the current desultory negotiations proceed.

High-Visibility Performing Arts Exchanges

The next two performing arts groups scheduled under the Cultural Exchanges Agreement are the Don Cossack dance troupe, which will arrive here February 8, and the American Conservatory Theater, which goes to the USSR in May. A US university jazz band and the Moyseyev dancers are tentatively scheduled for mid-year. American impresarios are interested in bringing the Red Army Chorus to the US, but we have asked that this not be done in 1976. With this exception, we recommend business as usual in the performing arts fields, which we have long argued should proceed regardless of the ebb and flow of our bilateral political relationship.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 10, POL 2 USSRUS. Secret. Drafted by R.L. Barry in EUR/SOV on February 3; cleared by Jenkins in H, Wright in EB, and Shinn in C. Forwarded through Sonnenfeldt. Borg wrote at the end of the memorandum: “EURRedman informed of actions taken 2/11.”
  2. The reference is in error; the United States and Soviet Union signed the Incidents at Sea agreement in May 1972.
  3. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11. During a meeting with the President in the Oval Office on March 4, Kissinger raised this issue: “The U.S.-Soviet commissions—I think we should delay.” Ford replied: “I agree. I told Cheney.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 18)
  4. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11.
  5. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11. An unidentified Department of State official wrote in the margin of another copy of this memorandum: “2/13/76—I called Mrs. Hills, passed to her the word that HAK would like to see meeting postponed until after mid-year. She said July was out, schedule filled up. Said she had made this clear a week ago (I don’t recall it was clear). She said she would accept decision. Could go in November, or send someone else.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 10, POL 2 USSRUS) In a March 2 memorandum to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt reported: “We are still being badgered by Zarb/Seamans and Carla Hills concerning their scheduled meeting and programs with the Soviets. Following our conversation last week, you were going to check with the President as to whether he concurs in having these and other Cabinet-level activities with the Soviets suspended for the time being. Were you able to do so, and can we proceed to tell those involved that there is a Presidential decision that they should not proceed with their programs?” Kissinger initialed the option: “OK, proceed.” (Ibid., Box 7, Soviet Union, Jan–April 1976)
  6. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11 and wrote in the margin: “but then drag our feet.”
  7. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11 and wrote in the margin: “but stop pressing them.”
  8. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11 and wrote in the margin: “but in lowest key possible.”
  9. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11 and wrote in the margin: “process but not to approve license.” An unidentified Department of State official wrote the following parenthetical comment in the margin: “that is, HK approves only processing applications, but does not approve issuing licenses at this point.”
  10. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11.
  11. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11 and wrote in the margin: “our posture should be cool and aloof.”
  12. Kissinger approved this recommendation on February 11 and wrote in the margin: “but again he is to delay bilaterals. He may give a holding answer.”
  13. Kissinger indicated neither approval nor disapproval of this item.
  14. Kissinger approved this and the next three recommendations on February 11 without comment.