282. Memorandum From Denis Clift of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger 1

SUBJECT

  • Your Meeting with Gromyko: Soviet Impatience at CSCE Growing

In a two hour conversation with Ambassador Sherer on May 15, Soviet CSCE delegation head Kovalev focused on problems of concern to the Soviet delegation and asked what steps were necessary to bring Stage II to a quick conclusion. Kovalev alluded several times to the need to have a clear idea of U.S. positions on CSCE issues before Foreign Minister Gromyko’s meeting with you in Vienna.2 Several of the substantive issues raised specifically by Kovalev included:

  • —Working conditions for journalists: the Soviets are annoyed by what they view as a tougher U.S. position on this Basket III text; Kovalev even accused the U.S. of trying to unite the NATO Allies on this subject. Ambassador Sherer reports that the Allies are indeed now united in pursuing the main points in this text—travel, individuals as news sources and no expulsion for pursuit of professional activity.
  • CBM’s: Kovalev asked what the Soviets should do to reach early agreement on this item and Sherer urged him to come forward soon with maximum moves toward Western positions on numerical parameters.
  • —Timing: Kovalev said the Soviets are now prepared to do everything possible to move forward. He asked for U.S. view of the key issues which would bring an early conclusion to Stage II and was told travel, journalists and CBM’s.

Kovalev’s démarche to Ambassador Sherer is the latest indication of growing Soviet impatience at their inability to wrap up Stage II quickly and without major concessions. In fact, their obvious need to fulfill Brezhnev’s timetable of a Stage III conclusion this summer has the Soviets in a corner and, so far, their pressures and bluster aimed at the allied and neutral participants have not produced agreement on the unbalanced pro-East texts they are seeking.

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It therefore would seem very much in our interests to impress upon Gromyko the need for the USSR to take a more reasonable position on issues of importance to the West, and, at the same time, for us to encourage the Allies to stay together and hold their ground in the coming weeks. The Soviets should be forced either to make important concessions or face a major political reverse—and will probably opt for the former.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs, Convenience Files, Box 44, Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, White House, 1975 (3). Confidential. Sent for information. Drafted by Robert Gates of the NSC staff. A handwritten note on the first page reads: “HAK has seen.”
  2. Telegram 3572 from Geneva, May 15, reported on Kovalev’s conversation with Sherer. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)