269. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • CSCE, EC-Arab Dialogue, Greece-Turkey-Cyprus, Southern Africa


  • UK
    • Foreign Secretary Callaghan
    • Ambassador Peter Ramsbotham
    • Sir Donald Maitland, FCO Deputy Under Secretary handling Economic Affairs
    • Thomas McNally, FCO Political Advisor to Callaghan
    • Anthony Ackland, Callghan’s Private Secretary
    • T. D. McCaffrey, Press Spokesman
    • John Thomson, Assistant Under Secretary of State responsible for PM matters
    • Michael Weir, Assistant Under Secretary responsible for Middle East and UN
    • C. C. C. Tickell, NATO and other Western Organization Affairs
    • Leonard Williams, Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy
    • Richard A. Sykes, Minister, British Embassy
  • US
    • The Secretary
    • Elliot Richardson, Ambassador-Nominee to the UK
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor, Department of State
    • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, Department of State
    • Charles W. Robinson, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
    • William A. Buell, Jr., Director, Office of Northern European Affairs, Department of State

The Secretary: How do you propose to conduct this?

Secretary Callaghan: Well, I suggest we get down to business. Let’s start with CSCE.

The Secretary: Is the CSCE business?

Secretary Callaghan: I know you might not consider it business, but I am going to Moscow, and we would like to be as close as we can with your people to see just where we should aim. Before we came here, we had an approach from Ambassador Dubinin in Geneva, which was a follow-up of what I had said to the Soviet Ambassador in London; namely, that we get on with it. Dubinin said he had been authorized to approach us for bilateral talks, which were to be secret.

[Page 787]

The Secretary: The unmitigated bastards! They offer secret bilateral discussions to everyone, which they are supposed to keep secret from their allies.

Secretary Callaghan: In fact, we welcomed the approach but we will not run out ahead of our allies. We want to respond positively and will say that we will attempt to persuade our allies to accept anything which makes sense. We will only talk about CSCE. We will not get into the peaceful change of frontiers because we know that you are handling the “floating sentence.” But we could talk about Basket III and CBMs.

The Secretary: (to Hartman). Are the Russians talking to us?

Mr. Hartman: Just on peaceful change.

The Secretary: (to Callaghan). It is good to have you come here so I can learn something.

Secretary Callaghan: Hartman and Sonnenfeldt are the worst briefers I know. Now I see it is really a good technique. (laughter). (Resuming line of thought.) The Russians, in talking to us, have been tough. The tone is conciliatory but on substance they are tough.

The Secretary: They try out each ally in turn, to get one to move another. Once this has been exhausted, they will move toward the Summit they are so anxious to have this year. In my view, basically nothing in the Conference is going to be improved by a long negotiating process. The question is when to have the Summit in order to achieve what the Western countries want. We want to see moderate Soviet behavior for the greater part of this year, so if the Summit is in September and not in June, the American political purpose will not be defeated. But I am recommending that we let nature take its course.

Secretary Callaghan: Isn’t there a danger that the Russians might become irritable over a delay?

The Secretary: No, not so long as it is before the Party Congress.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: That would be some time between September 1975 and the spring of 1976.

Secretary Callaghan: What shall we do on confidence-building measures? These movements and maneuvers. I know you are not interested in movements. Do you not want to try to get something on maneuvers?

The Secretary: Do you mean on the size of the units or the area of territory?

Secretary Callaghan: Yes, and the size of the units about which notification must be made, the number of days in advance, and the depth of territory. I suppose our people in Geneva know your views.

Mr. Tickell: Yes, we know them but it helps us to know how you propose we move towards a solution. We have two possibilities: (1) we [Page 788] can change the obligations to make them not so binding, and (2) change the parameters on size and territory.

The Secretary: The Soviets would like the former. I am inclined to the latter. What’s the point of this if it is not binding?

Mr. Hartman: We have been discussing this at Geneva; that is, voluntary notification.

Mr. Tickell: The Germans want to keep the idea of voluntary notification for all of Europe.

Secretary Callaghan: Would this really cover all of Europe?

Mr. Tickell: Yes, all participants, plus 500 kilometers of Soviet territory.

Secretary Callaghan: The real point, Henry, is that we are going to Moscow, so do you think we can carry this a stage further with Gromyko?

The Secretary: No, I don’t think so. We talked about this over a year ago.

Secretary Callaghan: We will be closely in touch. We won’t get out of line with you. We will see if there is any give in Gromyko’s position. We have got to get on with this. I am getting fed up with it hanging around.

The Secretary: Don’t worry, they will want to move by June. The question is, with whom are they going to move.

Secretary Callaghan: I imagine they would prefer to move with you.

The Secretary: A year ago I would have said yes, but now I don’t think this is necessarily the case.

Secretary Callaghan: We could only bring something back to talk over with the Alliance. We can’t really talk turkey with Gromyko.

The Secretary: We have always thought there could be some progress in this area. I have no fixed ideas. They have not accepted the proposal of 100 kilometers along the Soviet border.

Mr. Hartman: We must decide on the zonal concept. The question is how much into the Soviet Union. They once told us they would consider to Kiev.

Secretary Callaghan: I wouldn’t be raising this unless Dubinin said they wanted to talk. Peaceful change we shall leave in your hands.

The Secretary: Don’t believe them if they present our position as more forthcoming than we have told you. Once they said that Genscher told them that the Germans refused to accept a formula on peaceful change only because we were unhappy with the text. I couldn’t have cared less about the text on peaceful change.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: In Berlin they said we were the only obstacle.

[Page 789]

The Secretary: Their negotiating tactics are tawdry in the extreme.

Secretary Callaghan: I have never talked to Gromyko.

The Secretary: He is the world’s greatest expert on CSCE.

Secretary Callaghan: I must say you are putting me off him.

The Secretary: He was insisting to me each principle must be equally applied and each equally valid. When he said that in Vladivostok, the President asked me what the hell he meant. I said I never understood the difference. In my view, he will want to settle with you in Moscow and not do it with your people and your fellow (Dubinin) in Geneva.

Secretary Callaghan: About the level of Stage III and the on-going. We agree that there can be a Summit but we don’t want to give it away yet.

The Secretary: We have given it all away already. Why not use the French formula? I told Genscher the only issue was which European country would give away the Summit. My present view is that the Summit is inevitable. The margin of negotiation left is so small that a Summit really makes no difference. We give away nothing by implying that a Summit is probable. We should only keep for ourselves an escape route in case they turn bloody-minded in the next few months.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Their dream is to have it coincide with VE Day.

Secretary Callaghan: I must say this is the first time I have heard September mentioned.

The Secretary: It would be a guarantee of their good behavior, at least until then. But we are not delaying this. July would be fine with us.

Secretary Callaghan: We have nothing against September but people seem to be focusing on June or July.

Mr. Tickell: We agreed in Dublin, among the Nine, to a target date of June or July for Stage III.

The Secretary: Six weeks would make no historical difference.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: We should finish Stage II six weeks before a Summit.

The Secretary: We have a Summit with them too, which will make them behave until June. We don’t intend to make any concessions on CSCE at that Summit.

Secretary Callaghan: I know you don’t have much interest in the future of these arrangements, but I think you underestimate the interest of the Europeans. The smaller countries want a resumption of the dialogue at some later stage.

The Secretary: I know that your view is that this might be 18 months later. This is a fairly reasonable proposal, but I think we should keep them as the demandeur. Your proposal is one we could live with.

[Page 790]

Secretary Callaghan: The beginning of 1977 would be 18 months, but we won’t talk about that in Moscow.

The Secretary: We need to keep something in our pocket. My view would be sympathetic to your approach. Do we have anything more on CSCE? On principles and equal validity, I don’t understand the difference between equally valid and equally applied.

Mr. Tickell: The Russians want principles badly. If the Germans want to work on peaceful change we shouldn’t need to tear our hearts out over that.

The Secretary: Nobody but the Germans understand the difference on this issue. I have no interest in getting this settled. Changes in Europe won’t depend on the placement of a sentence or the use of the word “only.” But all the pressures will be on the Germans, and the Russian aim is to have the Germans the obstacle to agreement.

Mr. Tickell: At our meeting of the Nine, we said no to the July 26 formula2 and are back to the April 5 formula.3 But we must look at other formulas. The French are keen on that, and the Germans are more flexible.

The Secretary: We had it in the Sovereignty Section, but I don’t give a damn.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: We are in the crazy position of being asked to feed unacceptable texts to the Russians.

The Secretary: We could get an agreement on texts we don’t believe in on behalf of the Germans? I said from the beginning there is no chance of changing the registered texts.

Secretary Callaghan: Why don’t we let Arthur (Hartman) move ahead with the Germans. If in the Nine we don’t agree on one route, we can agree on another. Anything agreeable to the Germans is okay with us.

The Secretary: Gromyko will raise that, and he will try to get a date nailed down for the Summit. I suggest we agree on the Summit 98 percent, leaving us just enough for an escape, and gear the date to progress in the Conference. He will give you an excruciatingly detailed account of his idea of principles. On CBMs you can give him satisfaction. On Basket III there is not much to discuss.

Mr. Tickell: In Basket III we still have working conditions for journalists, jamming, and a mini-preamble to human rights—the French formula—but we can handle this better in Geneva than in Moscow.

[Page 791]

The Secretary: He will give you a 25-minute speech on the immorality of interference in Soviet domestic affairs. You had better shift that to Geneva.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Entry 5339, Box 10, POL 2 United Kingdom. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Buell. Approved by Hartman and Adams (S) on February 8. The conversation took place in the Secretary’s Conference Room.
  2. See Document 239.
  3. On April 5, 1974, the FRG agreed to a revised Soviet text on inviolability of frontiers in return for the inclusion of language on peaceful change somewhere else in the declaration of principles (Basket I). See Document 198.