117. Telegram From the Department of State to all North Atlantic Treaty Organization Capitals1

196451. Subj: Secretary–Dobrynin conversation on CSCE and MBFR preparations.

The Secretary called in Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin October 27 to deliver note in reply to Soviet proposal given Mr. Kissinger in Moscow September 12. (Text of note transmitted in USNATO 4339.)2
Dobrynin read note carefully and said it looked fine and appeared to be exactly as discussed in Moscow but commented as follows on the numbered paragraphs:
  • Paras 1 and 2: Dobrynin said these seem to coincide with Soviet position.
  • Para 3: Dobrynin said it was understood that the MPT would formally decide on the date and place for the conference, but said that Soviets would like an agreement with the U.S. in advance for Helsinki in June. He took note of the formulation that “June 1973 would appear to be a reasonable date for the conference,” and indicated that this may be acceptable to the Soviet Government.
  • Para 4: Dobrynin said that Soviet Government had proposed “late January” for the preparatory conference on force reductions, therefore he assumed January 31 would present no problem. He pointed out, however, that Soviet Government opposed discussion of “matters of substance” at exploratory talks. He was reminded that the phrase in the note was “matters of substance relevant to setting an agenda,” and he said that he believed the agenda could be discussed, but not matters of substance as such.
  • Para 5: Dobrynin said it was his view that this was consistent with the proposal to Mr. Kissinger in Moscow, and therefore should be acceptable to the Soviet Government.
  • Para 6: Dobrynin asked if we wished a formal reply to the note, and was told that we do. He said he would endeavor to obtain one as soon as possible.
The Secretary then made the following points regarding our position:
The venue of the CSCE itself should be agreed during the multilateral preparatory consultations at Helsinki.
Initial talks on MBFR should not be confined solely to procedures and organization. Preparations of subsequent negotiations require some exchange of views on substantive issues relevant to setting up an agenda.
Agreed allied views on participation in MBFR talks will be communicated later.
There is general agreement among the prospective allied participants that the talks (on MBFR) should take place at a location other than Helsinki.
Dobrynin said he foresaw no particular problems here, except that the Soviet attitude toward point B will depend on how far we wish to involve substantive discussions in the initial talks on force reductions. He assumed his government would agree to discuss agenda questions but would not go further into matters of substance. He made no comment on point C. In regard to point A Dobrynin indicated Soviets sought agreement on venue in advance but Secretary said this not possible now. When asked if question still open, he was told “yes.”
It was decided to agree upon detailed press handling when the Soviet reply to our note is received. For press handling of Dobrynin call see septel.3
For all NATO capitals: you may inform FonOffs of foregoing.
For USNATO: You may inform SYG Luns and other dels of foregoing.
For Moscow: You may inform allied colleagues of foregoing.
Foregoing is uncleared and subject to revision upon review.4
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 1 EUR. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Matlock, cleared by Springsteen, and approved by Eliot. Also sent to Moscow. Repeated to USNMR SHAPE, USCINCEUR, USCOSACLANT, and USDOCOSOUTH.
  2. Telegram 4339 from USNATO, October 24, sent the “revised text of the U.S. response to the Soviet note of September 12 on MBFR and CSCE reflecting all changes agreed in the Council.” (Ibid., DEF 6 EUR) For the revised text of the note, see Document 116.
  3. Not found.
  4. Printed from an unsigned copy.