168. Telegram From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State1

Secto 58/1570. Subject: CSCE Ministerial: Secretary–Gromyko luncheon and bilateral July 7.

Summary: Bilateral luncheon July 7 provided occasion for Secretary and Gromyko to review various matters relating to second stage of CSCE. Gromyko stressed Soviet view that conference should produce binding results and that all other issues before conference should be considered secondary to security aspect. Secretary noted that principles of relations to be agreed on by conference would be general in nature and therefore would not take the form of a treaty but of course the US would fully respect any agreements entered into. On security issue, Secretary pointed to diversity of viewpoints represented at conference and underlined US view that progress on cooperation issues in humanitarian area would also enhance security and constituted important goal of conference which could be attained within framework of respect for national sovereignty. Gromyko urged continued US-Soviet cooperation on conference matters and suggested possibility of bilateral consultations on MBFR. Secretary pointed out US still in process of developing position for MBFR negotiations and Gromyko replied the same was true for his government. End summary.
Gromyko hosted luncheon at Soviet Embassy for Secretary July 7 immediately following final session of CSCE first stage. Mood was cordial with Soviets clearly gratified at success their last ditch leadership in working out compromise on Maltese-Arab issue which prevented Ministerial from ending on sour note induced by impasse over communiqué (septel).2 Discussion following luncheon provided occasion for serious exchange of views on issues facing second stage of conference.
Proposals on agenda items. Gromyko asked whether US intended to submit concrete proposals during second stage. Secretary responded affirmatively but indicated we did not yet know precise form proposals would take. Gromyko noted that proposals submitted by Soviets and other socialist countries on various agenda items represented effort to get ball rolling.
Pace of stage II. Gromyko expressed concern that second stage of CSCE might become unduly prolonged and expressed hope this could be avoided. Secretary observed that US had agreed in joint communiqué during Brezhnev visit that conference should move forward as expeditiously as possible. He said we fully intended to live up to this understanding but that pace of proceedings would also depend on positions adopted by others.
Binding nature of undertakings. Gromyko reiterated standard Soviet view that any documents or undertakings resulting from conference should have maximum binding force so that Europe would not have to “live with triggers cocked” but could have genuine peace. Secretary emphasized that US would not enter into undertakings we did not intend to respect. He noted, however, that any “principles” that would be agreed on by conference would necessarily be general in form. Accordingly, while we are prepared to give them our full support this would not carry the same operational obligation which more specific agreements would carry. As for other agreements that might result from conference, Secretary drew distinction between agreements requiring Congressional approval and those that did not require Congressional approval to enter into force. He expressed the view that agreements likely to result from CSCE would probably, but not necessarily, be of latter type. In any event the US was prepared to support any agreements reached fully and without reservation.
Representation of stage II. Secretary asked Gromyko for Soviet views on nature and level at which participants should be represented during stage II discussions. Gromyko said representation should be at high level commensurate with increased importance of stage II over MPT, although experts would again be present. In Soviet case, he assumed Deputy Foreign Minister would be appointed to attend stage II who would represent USSR on coordinating committee and possibly also on one or another of the special committees. He emphasized that representatives must be at responsible level and empowered to speak with full authority of their government in order to keep matters moving.
Relative importance of CSCE issues. Gromyko made special point of stressing primacy of security issue over all others at conference. He claimed this in no way implied any under-estimation by USSR of other matters before conference, such as cultural cooperation, family ties (which he noted seemed to be particular concern of FRG Foreign Minister [Page 509] Scheel), exchanges of people and information, and other humanitarian issues. Gromyko said there can and should be agreement on certain principles relating to these other issues: Soviets “were not afraid of them,” but history and common sense showed that main issue before conference was to make Europe a continent of peace. Accordingly, issues other than security necessarily had to be secondary, and conference should not try to get into field of bilateral agreements between states. In addition, such matters as marriages between citizens of different states, taxes for visas, and information questions should only be considered on the basis of respect for the laws of each individual state and with regard to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. Only thus could mutual understanding be assured. Otherwise, the conference could become a modern-day Tower of Babel.
Secretary replied that US fully intended to deal realistically with issues before conference. Fact remained that there were 35 participants each of which had its own viewpoint. US agreed that security was key issue but we viewed cooperation in humanitarian area as complementary factor which made realization of genuine security more likely. Purpose of conference was obviously not to interfere in internal affairs of other states, but guidelines established by MPT suggested that the conference should, without abandoning principle of sovereignty, give serious consideration to how progress could be achieved on such matters as improving exchanges of people and information. These goals did not need to be seen as inconsistent with principle of sovereignty. Important thing was to carry on the work begun by MPT guided by spirit of seeing what could be done to improve conditions contributing to greater security and cooperation. Secretary said he felt progress achieved thus far was exceptional, and leaders of both Soviet and US delegations to preparatory talks deserve to be congratulated.
Gromyko expressed satisfaction that US and Soviet linking seemed to be moving along parallel lines and agreed that results of [garble] were “very good.” He expressed hope that US and Soviets could continue to cooperate on conference matters and should be alert to attempts that might be made by “some quarters” to impede mutual understanding. He urged that US and USSR not lose sight of main objective and depart from track we had taken together, which was source of “great satisfaction” to both our countries and to Europeans in general.
MBFR. In brief closing remark on MBFR talks to begin Oct. 30, Gromyko suggested possibility of bilateral discussions after US and Soviets had had chance to review their respective positions. Secretary noted that this was matter for future since we were still working on position for the negotiations. Gromyko said Soviet position likewise not fully developed.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Map Room, D, 2 of 2. Secret. Repeated to Moscow and USNATO. Rogers visited Czechoslovakia July 8–9 to sign a consular convention.
  2. Not identified. Telegram 1815 from Helsinki, July 4, reported that the afternoon session of the CSCE Ministerial meeting “opened with Maltese Prime Minister Mintoff calling attention to his proposal that Algerian and Tunisian FonMins be invited to address meeting. Spain supported Malta but Bulgarian rep proposed remand matter to official level working group. Greek, Swiss, and other ministers endorsed Bulgarian suggestion. Mintoff said working group must reach prompt decision.” Telegram 1586 from Ottawa reported: “Towards end of [CSCE Ministerial] session, when it appeared no communiqué might be issued, [Canadian CSCE Coordinator] Hooper reports Soviet del took up cudgels with Maltese and ‘persuaded’ Mintoff to accept final language. Hooper describes Gromyko as furious, and quotes him as calling Mintoff unbalanced and untrustworthy.” (Both in National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)