199. Editorial Note

On April 14, 1978, President Jimmy Carter sent Secretary of State Cyrus Vance instructions for his scheduled trip to Moscow to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko about SALT II and other issues. Carter wrote: “It is in the interest of both countries that SALT succeed. However, I am concerned that Soviet strategy is to focus attention on SALT as proof of progress in U.S.-Soviet relations while the Soviet Union pursues its political objectives elsewhere by military means. Therefore, you should begin the discussions with a broad review of U.S.-Soviet relations, emphasizing that the U.S. seeks a détente that is increasingly comprehensive and genuinely reciprocal. Unless this happens, some of the central factors of our relationship, including SALT, will be adversely affected by the consequent deterioration in the political environment. It is for this reason that you should stress that détente cannot be compartmentalized and that mutual restraint lies at the core of a détente relationship.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 56, SALT: Chronology: 11/23/77–4/20/78)

Carter also discussed SALT II in the context of the Soviet presence in the Horn of Africa: “For this reason you should explain to the Soviets that we believe our relationship is now at a watershed. We are willing, anxious and ready to try to improve it, to widen the scope of cooperation to other areas, and to work together on the widest possible range of issues; but we cannot accept a selective détente. Decisions made in the near future on SALT as well as other issues such as Africa will affect our relationship for many years to come. On SALT you will receive separate instructions. You should make clear we are willing to negotiate SALT on its own terms but that it cannot of course be pursued in isolation from the rest of our relationship. (Ibid.) The full text of Carter’s letter to Vance is scheduled to be printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume VI, Soviet Union. For Vance’s specific instructions on SALT, see Document 197.