216. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State1

3950. Eyes only for Sonnenfeldt and Hartman from Sherer. Department pass to Moscow eyes only for Ambassador Stoessel. Subj: CSCE: Basket III preamble. Ref: Geneva 39462 and previous.

Kovalev came to see me evening of June 20 with his two principal lieutenants, Dubinin (Basket III) and Mendelevich (Basket I). He said he was very interested in completing the Basket III preamble operation quickly, before it got out of control, and proposed trying to register the fourth Finnish para for the Basket III preamble at next Wednesday’s meeting of Committee III, with registration of the Finnish language on “legislative and regulatory systems” the following day.
We explained the complex and interlocking issues which, in the Western view, were raised by this matter, and told Kovalev that many Western and neutral countries were trying to build an elaborate negotiating package for trade-off when the two Finnish proposals are accepted.3 We said we did not think it would be possible to register quickly the Finnish language for the Basket III preamble in the present CSCE atmosphere, without some dramatic move on the part of the Soviets, since a CSCE agreement dating from last February stipulates that progress on Basket III preamble and specifics will move ahead in parallel. On the other hand, we suggested that, if the two texts on access to printed information and reunification of families, which are presently holding up progress in Basket III, could be registered before next Wednesday’s meeting, the situation would appear quite different, and we would be able to support immediate registration of the Finnish preambular paragraph.
We also explained that movement of this kind by the Soviets might undercut efforts to build a negotiating package, but pointed out that there were, in fact, several related issues which would clearly have to be settled at the same time. These appear to us to be: (1) full texts of the principles on sovereign equality and non-intervention; (2) full text of Basket III preamble; (3) commitment by Soviets not to try to reintroduce “laws and customs” type of language in Basket III “mini-preambles” [Page 655] (preceding each sub-section of Basket III document), and (4) progress on Basket III specifics.
Kovalev and his lieutenants seemed to think much of this would be possible. They agreed to make every effort to register the text on access to printed information by Monday or Tuesday of next week, although if they insist on their present phraseology for this item such registration way prove difficult. On family reunification they appeared to be flexible on most points, except transfer of savings of persons who emigrate (see Geneva 3009),4 and promised to make a major effort also to register this text next week. They said they had received instructions to allow Finnish para for non-intervention principle to be transferred to principle of sovereign equality, although they would insist on agreed US-Soviet language on determining legislative and regulatory systems. They said they were prepared, as a final compromise, to accept full Basket III preamble proposed as compromise by Finns, and would not try to reintroduce their “laws and customs” language in “mini-preambles” unless Western countries tried to insert unacceptable language.
I told Kovalev I would use June 21 NATO caucus to try to encourage Western flexibility to allow early registration of texts on access to printed information and family reunification. If one or preferably both of these texts could be registered by next Wednesday, we would support in Committee III meeting compromise acceptance and immediate registration of Finnish version of Basket III preamble, or at least paragraph 4 including general reference to the principles. Nevertheless, we cautioned Soviets that this was extremely complex operation, and while we would do our best, they should not be upset if there was some slippage. They agreed.
Would appreciate Department’s approval of this course of action and any additional guidance which may seem appropriate.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 708, Country Files, Europe, Switzerland, Vol. III. Secret; Immediate;Nodis.
  2. Telegram 3946 from Geneva, June 20, is ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P850095–2182.
  3. Regarding the Finnish proposals, see Document 208.
  4. Telegram 3009 from Geneva, May 14, is ibid.