306. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Secretary’s Tour d’Horizon with FRG Foreign Minister Genscher


  • FRG
    • Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Foreign Minister
    • Dr. Juergen Ruhfus, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Foreign Office
    • Niels Hansen, Minister, FRG Embassy
    • Dr. Klaus Terfloth, Press Counselor, Foreign Office
    • Juergen Chrobog, Personal Assistant to the Foreign Minister
  • US
    • The Secretary
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor
    • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
    • David Anderson, Director, EUR/CE (notetaker)
    • Harry Obst, OPR/LS (interpreter)

The Secretary: We have just received an irate communication from the Soviets accusing us of delaying the CSCE.2 We are in our usual happy position of being accused by our Western allies of speeding the negotiations up and by the Soviets of slowing them down. The fact is that we are doing neither.

Genscher: We are in no particular hurry to conclude the talks. The summit could take place in the fall if necessary. What is important is to have a constructive Stage II. There are of course still some open questions. For example, what about the language on quadripartite rights?

The Secretary: I have just had an exchange of correspondence with Sauvagnargues on this subject. He wrote me complaining about our not supporting him on this subject. I have written him back and explained our position and I believe it is one that is close to your own. Let me give you a copy of my letter.3

Genscher: I spoke in Paris with Sauvagnargues on Friday about this problem.4 The French are aware of our German reservations concerning the present text, and I have the feeling that the French will be making further efforts to find a solution.

The Secretary: What about the question of CBMs? If the Soviets agree to a zone of 300 kilometers, can you accept the other two parts of their proposal, i.e., the 18-day pre-notification and the 25,000 troop level?

Genscher: Only the depth of the zone is a question for us. On that we remain firm. The other parts of the proposal pose no problem for us.

The Secretary: Fine. Then let us now see what happens in Geneva. My preference all along was for a summit in September but I had to be careful: if some European wished to make the inevitable last minute concessions, I did not want the US to be too far behind.

[Page 878]

Genscher: What is the exact state of play right now on the CBMs? Do we expect a new Soviet proposal?

The Secretary: I think we have put our position to them on the non-acceptability of the latest proposal made in Vienna. A counterproposal was to have been put forward by the Western side.

Hartman: I think the UK or one of the other neutrals is to put the new Western position to the Soviets today. Perhaps this irate Soviet reaction was an answer to that new proposal.

The Secretary: No, I don’t think so. We instructed Ambassador Sherer to tell the Soviets that the 250 kilometer proposal was not sufficient,5 and I think the Soviets may be reacting to that statement.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P820123–1320. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Anderson and cleared by Hartman. Approved by James Covey (S) on July 22.
  2. Document 303.
  3. See footnote 7, Document 304. On June 18, Sonnenfeldt and Hartman wrote Sherer in telegram 142540 to Geneva: “The Secretary has discussed the QRR problem this week with Genscher, who can support either of first two changes suggested in our letter to Sauvagnargues. Genscher dislikes, however, the minor modifications of French formula put forth in our fallback position because he thinks it does not provide sufficient protection of allied rights. The Secretary has assured Genscher that we would support German desires in moving toward a final compromise on this issue. You should pursue search for a final compromise on QRR text with other representatives of Bonn Group at Geneva, bearing in mind our desire to support German wishes while leaving initiative primarily to the French.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  4. See footnote 6, Document 304.
  5. In telegram 138400 to Geneva, June 13, Sonnenfeldt and Hartman told Sherer to contact Kovalev and inform him that “we tried our best but were unable to persuade our allies to accept the Soviet proposal of 250 kilometers, 30,000 men and 18 days for the CBM on maneuvers, despite our strong emphasis that these figures were acceptable to us.” The telegram continued: “You should not suggest alternative parameters of 300 kilometers, 25,000 men, and 21 days to Kovalev. Instead, you should get in touch immediately with your UK colleague, in his capacity as NATO caucus leader on CBM’s, and ask him either to suggest to Kovalev what it takes to nail down a final compromise or have him ask the Austrian neutral caucus leader to do so.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)