148. Editorial Note

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger contacted West German officials in the wake of his visit to Moscow to inform them about his discussions in Moscow on the European security conference and MBFR. On May 7, 1973, he sent President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Brent Scowcroft a message that reads in part: “Please send message in special channel to Minister Egon Bahr in Bonn from me as follows: ‘Soviets have raised with me inviolability of frontiers question in connection with CSCE mandate. They have insisted that this issue must be listed separately and first, before renunciation of force. I have pointed out that we will only accept what you accept on this matter. I explained your position that the frontier issue should be dealt with in the context of non-use of force, as it was in your treaty with the Soviet Union. The Soviets insisted that this is an incorrect unilateral interpretation of your treaty and that, although listed in Article 3, after non-use of force, inviolability of frontiers stands alone and paramount. I told Soviets we have no independent interpretation of this matter, nor an independent position in the CSCE and that we would be guided by whatever they and you work out. I repeated this position when Soviets specifically asked us to support their position. The matter was left that they would talk to you during Brezhnev’s visit and we would see where things [Page 465] stood.’” (Telegram Hakto 16; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 32, HAK Moscow, London Trip, May 4–11, 1973, Hakto & Misc)

On May 12, National Security Council staff member Sonnenfeldt sent a memorandum to Kissinger about the latter’s upcoming meeting with West German Ambassador Berndt von Staden later the same day: “CSCE Declaration: Von Staden and the Foreign Ministry may not know that Germans have a Soviet text. You probably should notify Bahr of agreement with the Soviets that the Four can now consult so that Bahr can feed it into the German bureaucracy, rather than you.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 271, Memoranda of Conversation, Chronological File) The same day, Kissinger sent a backchannel message to Bahr: “During my talks in Zavidovo, the Soviets agreed that the US, Federal Republic, Britain and France can consult on the draft text of a declaration for the European Security Conference which the Soviets gave to you, us and the French several weeks ago. We would like to have the State Department proceed with the respective allied foreign offices to develop a Western response to the Soviet draft and would like to begin early the week of May 14. Could you send me confirmation that you have no objection to the State Department’s raising this with your foreign office?” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 424, Backchannel Messages, Europe, 1973)