220. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission in Geneva 1

135958. Subject: CSCE: Basket 3 preamble. Ref: Geneva 3988.2 Geneva eyes only for Amb Sherer.

In further conversations with Soviet delegation on this issue, you should remind them that, while we undertook to try to persuade [Page 661] Western participants to accept Finnish compromise package for handling this issue, we repeatedly pointed out that we expected Western resistance. You should add that we will continue our quiet persuasive efforts with Western delegations but that, given current Allied attitudes, strong pressure from US would prejudice chances of eventual Western acceptance of Finnish package.
In responding to any questions from Allies, you could make following points:
  • —We support Finnish compromise package as reasonable solution to a difficult issue involving highly sensitive ideological considerations on Eastern and Western sides;
  • —We have also discussed this issue bilaterally with other delegations at Geneva and we assume many other Allied delegations have had similar bilateral contacts;
  • —As others may also have found, we found that, while the Soviets initially preferred the explicit reference to “laws and customs” in draft Basket 3 preamble tabled by Bulgarians, they later apparently began to see merit in indirect compromise approach embodied in Finnish package;
  • —As Hartman told NAC on March 29,3 after Secretary’s visit to Moscow, Brezhnev mentioned “customs” in connection with Basket 3 only in his introductory remarks, but he repeatedly mentioned domestic laws;
  • —This may have presaged Soviet willingness to drop “customs,” which of course does not figure in Finnish package;
  • —We agree that progress in Basket 3 specifics is indispensable, have repeatedly made this point to Soviets, and will continue to make it;
  • —We hope Allies will continue to see Finnish proposal, plus satisfactory texts on Basket 3 specifics, as constituting acceptable outcome under third agenda item.
If questioned by journalists on Finnish proposal, you should decline comment on grounds that this is subject currently under negotiation.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 708, Country Files, Europe, Switzerland, Vol. III. Secret; Immediate;Nodis. Drafted by Streator; cleared by Hartman and Miller; and approved by Sonnenfeldt. Repeated to Moscow eyes only for Ambassador Stoessel.
  2. Document 219.
  3. See Document 197.