106. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

8334. Subj: Approach to Soviets on MBFR/CSCE parallelism. Ref: State 149897.2

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Summary. Preliminary Soviet reaction to approach on MBFR/CSCE parallelism rejects any linkage of preparatory discussions and disputes our interpretation of parallelism. End summary.
I called on Acting FonMin Kuznetsov (Gromyko is on leave) on August 21 and made presentation on MBFR/CSCE parallelism as instructed para 5(a) and (b) reftel, giving him informal paper containing this portion of my talking points. I referred to “force reductions in Europe” rather than MBFR.
Although Kuznetsov promised to study the matter, his preliminary comments were entirely negative. He stated flatly that in his government’s view there must be no attempts to bind CSCE and force reductions as regards either preparatory discussions or negotiation of substance.3 He disputed our interpretation of summit understanding that parallel means about the same time, and asserted that our approach can only be interpreted as making preparatory talks on CSCE conditional on beginning exploratory talks on force reductions, a linkage which Soviet side decisively rejects.
In course of forty minute conversation, Kuznetsov (and Chief USA Section Korniyenko who was also present), in response my attempts to draw him out, repeated his position in variety of ways which are worth summarizing in order to provide flavor and nuances. He began by stating that in discussions before, at and after summit it was understood that exploratory talks on CSCE and force reductions should not be connected. There was no mention in communiqué4 that talks should start simultaneously or at same time. We agree that force reductions can contribute to ensuring security in Europe, but discussions on subject should not be advanced as condition for European conference or for preparations for conference. If we tie up several problems in one knot, it will be more difficult to solve any one of them.
I recalled pertinent portions of May 24 and 25 discussions of subject in Moscow.5 Kuznetsov responded that communiqué recorded Soviet willingness to start talks on force reductions, but did not change firmly held Soviet position against making CSCE preparatory talks conditional on beginning exploratory talks on force reductions. We (Soviets) are against tying them in one knot. Perhaps it would be possible that exploratory talks on force reductions could take place in parallel with preparatory talks for CSCE, but they cannot be made a condition for preparatory talks. Your words seem to hide some other reasons; we know that some NATO countries have opinion that two [Page 326] matters should be directly linked, but as Gromyko explained during his visit to Benelux countries,6 we are against making parallel discussion of force reductions a condition for starting preparatory session on CSCE.
I acknowledged that we agree they are separate issues as far as substance is concerned, and once talks are started progress in one will not be linked to progress in the other. Our main concern is to get started as soon as possible. I read portions of the communiqué on CSCE and force reductions, noting their juxtaposition and the expressed desire of both sides to agree as soon as practicable on procedures for negotiating. He interjected that communiqué does not say they should go forward at same time or that they are linked. I said communiqué does not exclude proceeding on the two questions at same time, nor did Gromyko exclude it. He said this does not reflect interpretation of Soviet Government, which has repeatedly stressed that CSCE should not be bound to anything else, including force reductions; our leaders at summit indicated that they were worried that NATO might wish to bind the two questions. When you propose opening discussions on force reductions precisely the same day as CSCE preparatory talks, and link CSCE and force reductions in same paragraph of your presentation, it is quite clear that you are linking the two questions.
I noted that my presentation did not say the same day, but offered as an example “on or about” November 22. He replied that this amounts to the same thing, and said our approach should have merely proposed to start talking about force reductions and should not have mentioned CSCE in same breath. I asked whether, since they did not seem to like November 22, they might specify another date but an early one as envisaged in US-Soviet communiqué. He would not respond.
Once again I reiterated that we have not attempted to bind the two questions either as regards preparation or substance. There is no dispute our countries would profit by success in both. Was it not logical to agree on date to get started on both at about same time? After further repetition of positions on both sides, I pointed out that we have asked Soviets opinion on whether they would like, together with certain other Warsaw Pact countries, to receive a diplomatic note on the subject; we hope to hear from them, and still think it opportune time to get talks started. Kuznetsov closed by once more stating Soviet position: We are against making one conditional on the other.
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 214, Geopolitical Files, Soviet Union, Dobrynin, Anatoliy, Background Papers (Talkers), Jan. 1972 –Feb. 1973. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated to Belgrade, Berlin, Bern, Bonn, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, EC Brussels, Geneva, the Hague, Helsinki, IAEA Vienna, Lisbon, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, USNATO, OECD Paris, Oslo, Ottawa, Paris, Prague, Reykjavik, Rome, Sofia, Stockholm, Valletta, Vienna, Warsaw, Ankara, Athens, USNMR SHAPE, and USCINCEUR.
  2. Telegram 149897 to Moscow, August 17, instructed Beam to seek an appointment with Gromyko to ask whether the Soviets were ready to accept an invitation for balanced force reduction talks. The cable reads in part: “We have therefore proposed to the Allies, and they have agreed, that we should undertake a bilateral approach to the Soviets which would clarify the Soviet attitude toward that understanding that we consider was reached in Moscow, and determine Soviet receptivity to invitations to begin exploratory talks [on force reductions] on or about November 22 at a site to be agreed.” (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 105.
  4. See Document 98.
  5. See Documents 95 and 96.
  6. Gromyko visited Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg from July 5 to 8.