64. Editorial Note

United States Embassies in Europe reported on the reaction of the European allies to Secretary Rogers’s conversation with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin on June 16, 1971, with regard to MBFR (see Document 61). On June 21, the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization reported the reaction of the NATO Political Advisers to the conversation: “Canadian rep requested (and was given) assurance that RogersDobrynin exchange was bilateral sounding only and that Secretary Rogers was not speaking for the alliance.” The report continued: “Dutch also asked whether we felt US-Soviet exchanges on MBFR were developing into the principal bilateral channel on the subject, to the exclusion of the other NATO allies. We replied that we did not consider this the case, that US and Soviets were simply discussing matters in context of normal bilateral soundings which other allies were presumably also undertaking.” (Telegram 2640 from USNATO, June 21; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 261, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. X)

On June 24, the Embassy in London reported on the British reaction to Rogers’s conversation: “British officials have uniformly expressed concern that NATO may be drifting too rapidly and without adequate preparation into MBFR negotiations. They are perplexed by lack of U.S. contribution to NATO studies and papers. They are concerned about U.S. intentions in light of RogersDobrynin conversation of 16 June and reports of U.S. interest in ‘small’ but symmetrical force [Page 176] reductions via MBFR. British believe that serious damage to NATO’s security can only be prevented by a slower pace, a clearer understanding of our objectives, and agreement prior to negotiations both among allies and with other side on basic principles.” (Telegram 5892 from London, June 24; ibid., Box 728, Country Files, Europe, United Kingdom, Vol. VI)

On June 28, the Embassy in Bonn reported: “Senior FRG officials continue highly concerned about the possibility of U.S. bilateral negotiations with the USSR on aspects of MBFR. FRG DefMin Schmidt has made a strong appeal to the Ambassador to avoid all bilateralism. FRG Disarmament Commissioner Roth is also concerned by this possibility, particularly in light of what he considers to be strong internal pressures in the U.S. to achieve quick initial results on MBFR.” (Telegram 7900 from Bonn, June 28; ibid, Box 685, Country Files, Europe, Germany, Vol. VIII)

On July 8, the Embassy in Bonn reported on the French and German reaction to United States interest in MBFR as expressed at a Franco-German summit meeting:

“A responsible Foreign Office disarmament official has informed us in the strictest confidence concerning the MBFR–defense aspects of the Franco-German summit consultations July 5–6 in Bonn. Reading from a memorandum covering the conversations on MBFR, our source said that French President Pompidou, Defense Minister Debre and Foreign Minister Schumann had told Chancellor Brandt, Defense Minister Schmidt and Foreign Minister Scheel that the USG had ‘definitively decided’ to reduce American troop levels in Europe. The French said that this was a profound change in US policy since the December 1970 NATO Ministerial, that the Soviet Union was aware of this decision and would use it to reinforce tendencies toward neutralism in small European countries and in the Central European area likely to be affected by such US troop reductions. France was gravely concerned, and thought such troop reductions, whether unilateral or under the umbrella of an MBFR agreement, would lead inevitably, whatever the US intention, to American political disengagement in Europe.” (Telegram 8368 from Bonn, July 8; ibid.)