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

4020. Eyes only for Sonnenfeldt and Hartman from Sherer. Dept pass to Moscow eyes only for Ambassador Sherer. Subj CSCE: Basket III preamble. Ref State 135958.2

Kovalev, accompanied by Dubinin and Mendelevich, called on me June 25 to exchange views on status of Basket III preamble operation. I gave them our latest information on package deal being promoted by neutrals (Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Cyprus, Malta, and Yugoslavia). This currently consists of the following elements: (1) inclusion in list of principles of some wording on “laws and regulations,” not yet drafted; (2) this language to be moved to principle of sovereign equality; (3) agreement on all four paragraphs of Basket III preamble using Finnish model; (4) agreement on so-called “mini preambles” preceding each section of Basket III document; (5) agreement on specific texts currently under discussion in Basket III (probably those on reunification of families and access to printed information); (6) simultaneous registration of all above texts; (7) agreement to move on to discussion of principle of human rights during period of 7–10 days required to work out the package deal.
Kovalev expressed “disappointment” on receiving this news. He said it was important to move quickly to finish this operation, which cold become “dangerous” if discussion moved on to principle of human rights. Instead, the proposed package deal was expanding. He clearly did not believe USDel had acted forcefully enough during last few days, and claimed Soviets had done everything they could to advance the operation. Kovalev recalled that this operation was only part of a broader US-Soviet understanding, and indicated he would report to Moscow his conclusion that we have not made enough effort on this issue.
In reply to Kovalev, I drew on para 1 of reftel, and stressed that our primary objective is eventual successful completion of the operation; too much pressure for early completion may well prejudice chances of eventual Western acceptance. I also repeated that we have said clearly and for many weeks that significant progress on Basket III [Page 663] specifics is required if there is to be any chance of success; up to now, the Soviets have not produced formulations with which the Nine can agree. In view of present situation, we had concluded it would be a mistake for US to support Finnish version of Basket III preamble at June 26 meeting of Committee III, as we had earlier thought possible if some specific Basket III text could be registered in advance. Since Soviets insist on simultaneous registration of Finnish language for the principles, such an initiative by US at this time could not succeed. I emphasized that the only apparent disagreement between us was on tactics and timing; the Soviets want quick action, while we believe gentle persuasion has better chance of success.
Kovalev reiterated his unhappiness, but said Soviets would continue their efforts to register text on access to printed information. They would also try to discourage neutral package-building, and would oppose discussion of human rights principle at this time. He asked for our cooperation in this effort, and we agreed to be in close contact.
Kovalev expressed more disappointment at this meeting than he has previously. He was apparently under instruction to complete our compromise agreement before the Moscow summit and has not produced. If the Soviets make a fuss about this in Moscow we should not hesitate to put the blame at their door. Had they come forward with Basket III specifics immediately after the Easter break the whole mood of the conference would have been different and the Finnish compromise proposals, when finally tabled on June 5, would have received a more enthusiastic reception. There simply has not been time between June 5 and today to work out language on Basket III specifics that is agreeable to all.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P850095–2190. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. Document 220.