293. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Quadripartite Breakfast on Berlin


  • Foreign
    • Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs James Callaghan
    • Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Sauvagnargues
  • US
    • The Secretary
    • Counselor Helmut Sonnenfeldt
    • Assistant Secretary Arthur A. Hartman
    • Ambassador Robert Anderson, Special Assistant to the Secretary for Press Relations
    • Mr. David Anderson, Director, EUR/CE

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

Sauvagnargues: I think at this point I should mention my recent discussion with the Yugoslavs about QRRS in the CSCE. I gave them an amended text of the original language which we had prepared and presented in Geneva. I suggested, “The participating states note that the present (title of document) cannot and will not affect their rights, [Page 854] obligations or responsibilities specifically defined and recognized or the corresponding treaties, agreements or arrangements.” I think this will be acceptable to the Yugoslavs2 although it may be difficult for the Russians to accept. I would like to have your views on this new text today or tomorrow. Perhaps the Bonn Group could consider the new text. Once we have your views, I would then be prepared to try to convince the Russians.

Callaghan: I agree that we should let the Bonn Group look at this.

The Secretary: Thinking about Soviet policy generally, I have to say that I have the impression that the Soviets are simply marking time. They are keeping various negotiations alive but just barely. Even the preparations for the Brezhnev meeting with President Ford are just ticking over. I suppose that Brezhnev’s physical condition is presenting a problem in this area. My meeting with Gromyko in Vienna went well. He went out of his way to be friendly in the meetings and with the press. But I have difficulty understanding the Soviet tactics in the CSCE, where they were apparently interested in reaching a speedy conclusion. On SALT, they made some impossible proposals in Vienna but Gromyko’s informal remarks to me afterwards suggested that an agreement this year was very probable. But all in all it is a curious performance.

Callaghan: I would like to clear up CSCE by mid-summer. This is not a matter of policy, it is simply a matter of order. What are the outstanding issues that we need to consider? CBMs and Basket III?

Sauvagnargues: Yes, I would be interested in knowing how the FRG views the progress on Basket III.

Genscher: We have no problem now with Basket III. For us the question of CBMs is most important.

[Page 855]

The Secretary: As you all know, I have had the greatest doubts about CSCE. Soviet practices will not change in any respect simply because of the wording in Basket III of the Security Conference documents. However, having presented our global initiative to the Soviets, it would be a mistake now to fall back from it. After all there is nothing in our proposal that involves any action. I think we should try to hold out. This has become a domestic political problem in the U.S., where we now have to explain what we are getting in Basket III. I think we are in a good position to defend ourselves publicly. It is therefore difficult to see why the Soviets won’t settle. If they don’t show signs of concessions in the next two weeks, I don’t see how we can have a summit by the end of July.

Sauvagnargues: I think that we could have a summit at that time if we wind up the present negotiations in Geneva by the middle of June.

Callaghan: I think we should stick with our position on CBMs and on Basket III and let the Soviets come to us.

The Secretary: You are aware of the CBM proposal which Gromyko made to me in Vienna, i.e. 30,000 troops, 18-day pre-notification and a distance of 150 kilometers. I told him that I would have to discuss this proposal with our Allies but that I did not think it would be acceptable.

Genscher: We could accept the proposal except for the 150 kilometer provision. We would want to stick with 300 kilometers.

Callaghan: I think that seems reasonable. Why don’t we all agree to take this approach?

Sauvagnargues: All right, and if the neutrals want to push for Soviet concessions on the other aspects of CBMs, then they can do so without our support.

The Secretary: Agreed.

Genscher: One further matter. I would like us to agree to refer to the Bonn Group for study the question of the extent to which Berlin is affected by CSCE documents. This will be an important issue domestically in the FRG.

Sauvagnargues: I think that the Bonn Group could study this problem, but I want to make one point: I do not believe that we should try to insert a sentence in the CSCE documents which would cover Berlin’s interests. This would be very difficult and would involve us in very long discussions. I think the point can be made by getting a common sentence covering Berlin’s interests into the speeches of the three Allied chiefs of state.

Genscher: That would be fine. That is basically our objective.

[Page 856]

Callaghan: Can we all agree on the proposed sentence on Berlin for inclusion in the NATO Declaration?3

Sauvagnargues: I think the sentence is a good one and unless I hear objections, I think we should accept it.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1975, P820125–0256. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Anderson. Cleared by Hartman and approved by James Covey (S). The meeting took place in the Quai d’Orsay.
  2. Telegram 3640 from Geneva, May 17, contains information on the Yugoslav position on quadripartite rights and responsibilities. (Ibid.) Telegram Secto 2054 from Brussels, May 30, reported that the French subsequently modified Sauvagnargues’s original text to read: “The participating states note that the present (title of document) cannot and will not affect their rights, obligations or specifically defined and recognized responsibilities nor the corresponding treaties, agreements and arrangements.” (Ibid.) Telegram 8710 from Bonn, May 30, reported that the French had presented the revised text to the Yugoslav delegation at CSCE. The same telegram reported that while the U.K. representative to the Bonn Group was willing to accept the French formulation, as long as the English language version made it clear that only “‘responsibilities’ are modified by specifically ‘defined and recognized.’” The US and FRG reps expressed reservations on text. (Ibid.)
  3. The North Atlantic Council met in Brussels May 29–30 with the participation of heads of states and government, including President Ford. The text of the final communiqué reads in part: “The security afforded by the Treaty enables the Allies to pursue policies reflecting their desire that understanding and cooperation should prevail over confrontation. An advance along this road would be made if the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe were concluded on satisfactory terms and its words translated into deeds. The Allies hope that progress in the negotiations will permit such a conclusion in the near future. They reaffirm that there is an essential connection between détente in Europe and the situation relating to Berlin. The Allies participating in the negotiations in Vienna emphasize that the development of understanding and cooperation also requires mutual and balanced force reductions in Central Europe in a manner which would contribute to a more stable relationship and enhanced security for all.” (Department of State Bulletin, June 30, 1975, p. 890)