45. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger 1

SUBJECT

  • Conversation with Perle: New Version of “Third Letter” (Tab A)2

As arranged with Scowcroft, I called Perle around 4:15 p.m. and told him a new version of the third letter was being sent up to him shortly. He asked what it said: I told him to look at it when he got it but that it was phrased more broadly than the old version. He said he foresaw great difficulty, and asked why the change. I said that you had pointed out at the last breakfast meeting (September 18)3 that you could accept the Jackson letter as an extrapolation of the first letter but that you could take no responsibility for the numbers contained in Jackson’s letter. In other words, the Administration could not stand behind the degree of specificity in the Jackson letter. The new third letter reflects this fact. Perle asserted the numbers issue had been settled with the President. I said I had not heard this.

Perle said that perhaps it was better to let the Trade Bill pass with JacksonVanik and then pick up the pieces on emigration afterwards. I said that this would kill Soviet incentives to move on emigration at all since they would have neither MFN nor credits. Perle said he tended to agree but he was reflecting Jackson’s mood. The Senator just felt he had taken so many blows on this issue that he was throwing up his hands and would just have to explain how the Administration had walked away from an agreement.

I said I could not see what blows Jackson had taken. The Administration’s proposed letter was a far-reaching document that set up very clear standards which would provide a ready basis for deciding whether the Soviets were performing adequately. Perle said that without the Jackson letter and a reply, the Administration letter was vague and meaningless. I disagreed. I repeated that a new version of the third letter was being sent up shortly.

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Perle said he doubted it would be acceptable.

Perle called at 5:30 to say he had received the letter and it was obviously unacceptable. He said unless I insisted he would not even give it to the Senator because he knew what the reaction would be. I said that this was a valid communication for the Senator and should be treated as such. Perle said that in that case he guessed he would give it to Jackson but there should be no doubt what the reaction would be.

Note: Perle’s reference to passing the Trade Bill just with JacksonVanik should be seen in the context of Long’s statement at markup today that Jackson had told him he had a deal, that the Finance Committee should report the Bill with Title IV as amended by JacksonVanik, that Jackson would take care of further amendments (waiver) on the floor and that Jackson would have an explanatory exchange of correspondence with the Finance Committee. Perle told me this was essentially what Jackson and Long had discussed yesterday, before the ScowcroftFosdick conversation, though Jackson had told Long that he “almost” had a deal. Jackson may well seek to have Long go through with this scenario in any event since it would give him the added leverage of having JacksonVanik on the books in the Senate Bill.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, Sept–Dec 1974. Eyes Only.
  2. The draft letter attached at Tab A reads: “Dear Senator Jackson: I have noted the views set forth in your letter of (date). The President will consider them in determining whether the purposes sought through Title IV of the Trade Bill in regard to emigration practices of non-market economy countries are being fulfilled and in exercising the authority provided for in Section ________ of the Trade Bill. Yours sincerely.”
  3. See Document 34.