127. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1


  • CSCE Multilateral Preparatory Talks (MPT): Round II Ends
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During round II of the Helsinki talks, January 15 to February 9, participants established the outer limits of their positions on which actual negotiations will begin, presumably shortly after the opening of round III on February 26. The Soviets offered some notable concessions during round II—acceptance of a separate CSCE agenda item on human contacts and cultural relations (freer movement); inclusion of confidence-building measures under the agenda topic on security; and agreement that the MPT should draft language describing the general tasks (“mandates” in NATO terminology) of the committees to be established to deal with each agenda topic during the second phase of CSCE itself.

Differences emerged during round II on five issues likely to dominate the discussions during round III:

  • —the specific principles of interstate relations that should appear in the mandate of the CSCE committee on this topic;
  • —the text of the mandate under the human contacts agenda topic;
  • —military aspects of security, especially the question of MBFR/CSCE linkage;
  • —the Warsaw Pact proposal for a post-CSCE consultative committee;
  • —the procedural question of whether to reach agreement, during MPT, on CSCE phase II subcommittees and their mandates.

On all of these topics, the plenary debates during round II were led by the Soviets, on one side, and by various combinations of middle and smaller NATO Allies, plus neutrals, on the other.

We gave moderately-worded support to Western positions on some of these issues, and remained silent on others. Relations between the US and Soviet delegations were friendly, despite differences on substance, and the two consulted periodically. The US delegation has reported that some Allied and Western-oriented neutrals were alert for signs of US-Soviet efforts to dominate the talks but that those delegations found no basis for genuine concern.

The Soviets, during round III, will have to decide how to balance their desire for an early conclusion of MPT against their disinclination to make easy concessions to the Western participants. Most Allied and neutral delegations at Helsinki seemed fully aware of Moscow’s problem and to expect that the Soviets would move still closer to Western positions during round III.

Nevertheless, most Allies also appear to understand the need, at some point after the discussions resume, to fall back from some of the detail in the various mandates tabled at Helsinki by the NATO countries. We will be actively discussing this topic in NATO prior to the resumption of the talks on February 26, seeking Allied agreement on a compromise approach to allow MPT to end in time for a conference to be convened in the last week in June at the earliest.

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The US delegation at Helsinki should, I believe, also try to help avoid unnecessary delay during round III by supporting more efficient work methods—for example, the establishment of working groups on various topics in lieu of exclusive reliance on plenary sessions. On most of the important issues of substance, however, we and our Allies are fairly close, and I believe we should not break ranks with them. While all of the other Allies, except France, favor some tie between CSCE and MBFR, we will continue to oppose any linkage.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 248, Agency Files, CSCE and MBFR, 1973. Confidential. In an attached correspondence profile, Hyland wrote “no action necessary per Sonnenfeldt” on May 17.