230. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher
  • Dr. Walter Gehlhof, State Secretary, Foreign Office
  • The Secretary of State
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

Genscher: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] What about the CSCE?

Secretary: We had a long talk about the CSCE. We said that Basket III had to have real content so that we could consider the issue of [Page 682] whether or not there should be a Summit. I made clear that we were not opposed or in favor of a Summit as a matter of principle. I think we must now address the questions that I posed in Ottawa.2

I also raised the question of “peaceful change.” They rejected putting this language into the inviolability principle. Brezhnev didn’t give the impression that he had a detailed understanding of this question. They are willing to have the reference to peaceful change in the sovereignty principle but they say that the text of the peaceful change language is already agreed. I said that if a reference to peaceful change were to be put in a principle other than inviolability the words would have to be changed for it to make any sense. They asked how? I said that I had no fixed Western position but I thought that if the “only” could be taken out and the reference to “international law” put at the beginning, we might find an acceptable formula. Gromyko didn’t say “no” but on the other hand he never raised it again either. I said either they should take the sentence as agreed and put it in the inviolability principle or accept the changed sentence and put it in the sovereignty principle. If you agree on the wording of the sentence to be put in the sovereignty principle, I could tell Dobrynin in Washington.

Genscher: That may be better than my doing it with Falin. Okay.

Secretary: I urged that there be greater content in Basket III in order to get acceptance of the Finnish formula which we favor. Our discussion of that was inconclusive however.

Genscher: I think that the Basket IIIa which deals with information is very difficult for the Russians. But IIIb on humanitarian concerns is much more important for our people. We’ll review the peaceful change language and talk again in Munich.

Secretary: There was very little discussion in Moscow on MBFR. They really do want a CSCE Summit but they didn’t press it obnoxiously. Could we split Basket III into two—humanitarian and information—and then make a real effort on the first?

Genscher: Yes, I have talked to the Belgians about it and the Canadians and they both seem to feel that way.

Secretary: Can’t the West agree on a unified list of things instead of everyone’s pet schemes? Then the Soviets would know the dimensions of the problem.

Gehlhoff: Do you think that they really worry about that?

Secretary: Yes. It is also good for us to have this idea so that we can make some decision about a Summit question. Why don’t we get a consolidated list among ourselves?

[Page 683]

Genscher: Good idea. We are ready to do this.

Secretary: If you want, you could send von Well to see us.

Genscher: We could.

Secretary: Maybe we could agree on eight or nine points.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P820123–1653. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Hartman and approved by J. Covey (S). The meeting took place at the airport in Dusseldorf.
  2. See Document 214.