210. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission in Geneva1

121749. Subject: CSCE: Basket 3 preamble. Geneva eyes only for Ambassador Sherer. Ref: Geneva 3582.2

You should take no action on the Finnish proposals in Baskets 1 and 3 until the Soviets have commented on them in appropriate CSCE committees. You may tell Soviet delegation that you have firm instructions on this point, which are in precise conformity with understanding reached between our two governments. You should add that, after the Soviets have reacted, you plan to argue in favor of the Finnish proposal at an early NATO caucus meeting. In that connection, you should reiterate that our ultimate success in persuading the Allies to accept this approach will depend heavily on progress with respect to specific issues in Basket 3, thus contesting Dubinin’s suggestion to you that success of this undertaking now depends entirely on US efforts. You should say that need for progress on specific Basket 3 issues was made very clear to Soviet representatives when we conveyed to them our proposals for dealing with this issue.
After Soviet delegation has taken position on Finnish proposal in CSCE, you should give it very general and low-key support in a NATO caucus meeting, and in private discussions with chiefs of key NATO delegations, where you could make following general points:
  • —We understand and support the Allied wish for progress in the Basket 3 area, although realistically we must not set our sights too high; —This is obviously a sensitive ideological issue for Moscow, and it may turn out that the Soviets will be somewhat more generous on Basket 3 issues if they can point to language that protects their doctrinal position;
  • —Thus it is possible that the Finnish proposal can help move us toward Basket 3 solution acceptable to all sides;
  • —At the same time, we agree that the Soviets, for their part, should begin to move toward Western positions on Basket 3 specifics, and have been pressing them on this point.
You should then report fully on Allied reactions and the general state of play in Geneva and await further instructions.
FYI only. We conveyed to Dobrynin here on May 13 a suggested scenario for handling this issue in CSCE, and Dobrynin later indicated Moscow’s agreement. Dobrynin also expressed preference for continuing US-Soviet contacts on this issue either in Moscow or in Washington. Soviet delegation in Geneva therefore may not be fully informed on understanding reached.
Agreed scenario provided that, after Finns table proposals in Geneva, following initial steps would be taken in sequence:
Soviet side would comment, in CSCE, on Finnish texts. (We indicated our understanding that the US SR might wish to register initial opposition to Finnish proposal before agreeing to fall back to it.)
US delegation initially would remain silent or noncommittal on the Finnish proposal, to avoid arousing suspicions of a prior US-Soviet understanding.
Later, at a meeting of the NATO caucus, we would argue in favor of the Finnish compromise. (We told Dobrynin that we expected initial Allied resistance and that the success of the operation at this point will probably depend on progress being made in discussions on Basket 3.)
Regarding the substance of the Finnish proposal, we agreed with the Soviets that the specific language on respect for “legislative and regulatory systems” should go in the sovereignty, not the nonintervention, paragraph of the principles declaration. Furthermore, we did not agree to support the formula in the Finnish text referring to respect for “the political, economic and cultural foundations of other participating states.” In contrast, the Finnish Basket 3 preambular language is in conformity with the US-Soviet understanding. End FYI.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 708, Country Files, Europe, Switzerland, Vol. III. Secret; Immediate;Nodis. Drafted by Streator and cleared by Sonnenfeldt, Stabler, and Samuel E. Fry (S/S). Approved by Kissinger. Repeated to Moscow eyes only for Stoessel.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 208.