63. Telegram From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State1

Secto 24/3160. Secretaryʼs Bilateral with Austrian FonMin, Sep 22.

Secretary raised topic of SALT. He said we did not know whether Gromyko would raise matter in meeting this evening. If there was favorable response on SALT from Soviet side, Secretary would push for Vienna as site for talks. Waldheim said it would be important for his government to get agreement by Soviets on Vienna site because of implications for that city as an international meeting place. He said Soviets had not responded when Austrians raised question of Vienna as site. Waldheim said he had discussed matter with Karjalainen and Finns were not campaigning to hold meeting in Helsinki. Unfortunately, Soviets might feel they owed something to Finns for their invitation to hold ESC in Helsinki. Austrians had been more “reticent” because ESC proposal had appeared so vague. Unfortunately, Austrians had incurred certain amount of Soviet ill-feeling because of (a) recent Sudeten-German meeting in Vienna and (b) Austrian mass mediaʼs harsh criticism of Soviets at time of anniversary invasion of Czechoslovakia. Waldheim was agreeable to our making proposal to Soviet, if they pushed for Helsinki site, for compromise on location for climatic reasons: six months in Vienna, six months in Helsinki. Secretary said we also wanted to check out our own physical plant at Embassy Helsinki.
Waldheim said Austrians were convinced set-up in Czechoslovakia will stabilize as Soviets want. Czechs no longer have independent policy. As a result Austrian state visit to Romania, Waldheim was certain Soviets would not move against Romania at any time in near future. Domestic political scheme in Romania was under tight control of Romanian CP. Romanians only want certain amount of independence in foreign policy. Rumors of Soviet invasion of Romania have no basis in fact. Secretary asked Waldheim if he had expected Soviets to invade Czechoslovakia. Waldheim said no, but situation there had been different. Dubcek had, from Soviet standpoint, lost control of internal situation. Soviets had feared 1968 situation was leading to neutralist government in Prague. Soviets do not want to “go beyond” events in Czechoslovakia and indeed now want to redeem themselves. Secretary [Page 169] commented he was certain Soviets did not make decisions in field of power politics on basis of public opinion. Waldheim agreed, but insisted Soviets want to keep status quo, at least in Europe. He thought that “almost Stalinistic” monolith which was Romanian regime could not be assailed by Soviets.
Subject of ESC was raised. Secretary said we had expressed our views at last NATO meeting. Waldheim believed it was important for us to know agenda and clear items to be discussed at any such conference. He felt that subject matter could not in any case be limited to German problem.
Waldheim raised subject of European integration. Problem for Austrians was how to continue their efforts to join Common Market. Their exports to Common Market countries were up. He appreciated US position on European unity and Austrian EC association. He said Schumann had told him France could accept Austria as special case. There was even possibility Italians would allow Austria to take up their case again in Brussels, despite earlier Italian veto,2 once they settle South Tyrol problem (which had greatly improved in last two years). Secretary said US would continue policy of supporting, although not with public statements, UK bid for EC entry.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 AUS. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Bonn, Bucharest, London, Moscow, Paris, Vienna, Helsinki, USEC, and Prague. Rogers and Waldheim were in New York attending the UN General Assembly meeting.
  2. Italy had opposed admission of Austria prior to a settlement of the Alto–Adige issue. Austria initially sought an association agreement with the EEC, and in 1972 negotiated a special economic arrangement with the Community.