96. Telegram From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State 1

Secto 40/5041. Subject: Memorandum of conversation.

Following is cleared memorandum of conversation between Secretary Rogers and Gromyko May 25.
Begin text:


  • European Issues


  • U.S. side
    • Secretary Rogers
    • Mr. Hillenbrand
    • Mr. Matlock
  • Soviet side
    • Andrei Gromyko, USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Anatoly Dobrynin, Ambassador of USSR in U.S.
    • G.M. Korniyenko, Chief, USA Division, MFA
    • Eduard Zaitsev, Interpreter
    • Date: May 25, 1972, 4:15–4:55 P.M.
    • Place: St. Catherine’s Hall, Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow
[Page 295]


Gromyko opened by requesting the Secretary’s views on means of proceeding with preliminary consultations for the “Conference on European Security.” The Secretary said that we feel the CSCE must be prepared carefully and we cannot take part in it until 1973 in view of our elections. We can, however, participate in a multilateral preliminary conference in late November. We have no objection to increased bilateral talks in the interim but believe that there is no point in trying to hold the preliminary conference before the latter part of November because of upcoming elections in several countries involved, including our own.

Subsequently in the conversation, Gromyko asked whether we have in mind early 1973 for the European Conference. The Secretary said that it is preferable to wait to see how the preliminary conference goes and that in any case the timing is something for all participants to decide.

Gromyko inquired at what level the Secretary envisages the conference. The Secretary replied that the CSCE itself would presumably be at the foreign minister level. Gromyko asked whether we have in mind a higher level meeting following the conference of foreign ministers. The Secretary informed him we had not been thinking in those terms. Gromyko then asked about the British view on the format of the conference and was told that the British are flexible and apparently would accept either the U.S. position (a single meeting of foreign ministers) or the French position (two meetings of foreign ministers). Gromyko pressed as to whether the U.S. would support a heads of state meeting. The Secretary replied that this is not ruled out, but he feels we would probably not support it. This is one of the subjects we can talk about in Helsinki. He asked whether the Soviets are thinking in these terms. Gromyko answered that his government is weighing all possibilities. A heads of state meeting is not excluded—it could be a good idea.

The Secretary gave Gromyko our draft communiqué language on CSCE (attached). Gromyko read it without comment, then returned to his earlier question as to whether we can have a preliminary exchange of views on the CSCE. The Secretary agreed that we can, but pointed out the necessity of obtaining the views of other participants, since we must not make it look as if we are imposing a decision on the others.

The Secretary requested Gromyko’s views on the topics to be dealt with in a CSCE. Gromyko said that any questions could be discussed, then listed the following which the Soviet Government considers desirable: [Page 296]

  • —general improvement of relations (political, economic and other) among the European countries.
  • —territorial integrity (i.e., status quo), the inviolability of borders (e.g., as in the FRGUSSR treaty).
  • —non-application of force in relations among European countries.
  • —improvement of economic relations.
  • —technical and scientific cooperation.
  • —cultural relations.

The Secretary commented that, as the President had said, it is important for the conference to have concrete results. It should not aim just at creating an atmosphere, although that has some value. He agreed that there should be principles governing relations between states, so long as these apply uniformly. We consider the freer movement of people, ideas and information important. He noted the reference to mutually advantageous contacts in the Warsaw Pact statement and said he assumed that it referred to such movement. Environment is another important topic.

Gromyko observed that environment should be included and asked how we feel about a permanent organ established by the CSCE. The Secretary said we need time to think about this. Gromyko explained that he was not proposing an organization with a large permanent apparatus, but merely a consultative organ. The Secretary said we have not excluded this possibility, but we have questions about it. New organizations tend to grow like the UN and result in much talk and little action.

Gromyko then asked about the territorial question and renunciation of force. The Secretary observed that renunciation of force is fine, but if one talks about borders, one must ask which borders, since we do not consider it appropriate to be involved in territorial disputes. Gromyko said they are thinking of territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders as a principle, not with specific application to border disputes.

Dobrynin asked whether the Secretary meant in his earlier comments that there is nothing to talk about until November. The Secretary replied that we are prepared to have bilateral conversations, but for the reason he had stated, we felt multilateral consultations should not begin until late November.

The Secretary referred to the President’s request the previous day for options as to how we might proceed with MBFR.2 He said we regretted that the Soviet Government had not seen fit to receive Brosio [Page 297] and wondered if we could not start exploratory talks by designating someone to conduct them. Gromyko asked who would designate the representative, and the Secretary replied that, so far as our side is concerned, NATO would. Gromyko said that in that case the situation would be the same as with Brosio: the Soviet Government was opposed to Brosio because he represented a group. The same would be the case with any other NATO representative. The Secretary observed that the only way to avoid having a representative of groups is to use the entire interested group, that is hold a conference.

Gromyko asked whether the United States could designate a representative who could speak for our group. It is difficult for the Soviet Government to deal with a representative who represents a bloc or an alliance. Mentioning France, he noted that some other countries have the same opinion. He realizes that developments may occur in the negotiation of force reductions in such a way that groups may form. But the Soviet Union remains opposed to bloc-to-bloc negotiation in the juridical sense.

The Secretary said he sees no other way to approach the question since the United States cannot leave the impression that it is making plans for other countries. Gromyko said that Brezhnev told the President yesterday that we can perhaps exchange views on a bilateral basis.

The Secretary then returned to the President’s request for options and presented to Gromyko the following draft list of four options:

Exploratory talks on MBFR between relevant states to begin prior to multilateral preparatory talks for Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Exploratory talks on MBFR between relevant states to begin in parallel but in different bodies at Helsinki at same time as the multilateral preparatory talks for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Exploratory talks on MBFR between relevant states to begin in separate body and after commencement of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Multilateral talks on MBFR take place in a special body created by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Gromyko read the list and, in regard to the second, asked whether “relevant states” meant all possible participants in the European conference. The Secretary explained that this is not the meaning.

Regarding the relationship of MBFR and the CSCE, Gromyko said that he understood it had been agreed at the meeting with the President the day before that force reductions would not be discussed at the European conference. The Secretary said that MBFR would not be negotiated at the CSCE but said that it could be discussed in a general way. Gromyko then observed that in the Soviet view force reductions could be handled [Page 298] parallel to the European conference, after the conference, or perhaps in an organ of the conference, but not at the conference itself. The Secretary agreed it should not be negotiated at the conference itself.

Gromyko inquired whether the options the Secretary has presented represented the State Department view. The Secretary explained that the options were merely suggestive, in order to meet the President’s reqest to present options. We will appreciate Soviet comments or suggestions.

The Secretary presented draft language on MBFR for the communiqué (attached). Gromyko read it and observed that force reduction should be mentioned, but he doubted that it needed to be treated at such length. The Secretary told him we are flexible on that point.

Berlin Protocol

The possibility of signing the Berlin Protocol on June 3 was discussed. Gromyko said that June 3 is acceptable in principle, but that the Soviets will not sign the protocol until the ratification instruments of the Moscow Treaty are deposited and the treaty is in force. He said that the Supreme Soviet would meet May 31 to ratify the treaty, and that the Soviet Government is attempting to arrange for deposit of the ratification on June 2. He hoped to hear from the Germans the next day as to whether this would be possible.

Attachments: Communiqué Language on CSCE and MBFR.

Attachment No. 1.

Communiqué Language for CSCE

(Preliminary draft)

The U.S. and the USSR are in accord that multilateral conversations intended to lead to a Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe could begin at a date to be agreed by the countries concerned after the signature of the final Quadripartite Protocol on Berlin. The two governments agree that the conference should be carefully prepared in order that it may deal in a concrete way with specific problems of security and cooperation and thus contribute to the progressive reduction of the underlying causes of tension in Europe.

Attachment No. 2.

Communiqué Language for MBFR

(Preliminary draft)

Recognizing that the military situation in Europe has been relatively stable for the past several years, and that this situation has favored the development of relations between East and West, the two sides addressed current aspects of military security in Europe. Particularly, [Page 299] they discussed further contributions to stability and security that could be achieved through the reciprocal reductions of forces in Central Europe. Any agreement must be consistent with the principle of undiminished security for all parties.

They agreed that, subject to the concurrence of their allies, explorations looking toward negotiations should begin as soon as practicable. If they are not initiated sooner, explorations could open concurrently with initial multilateral talks preparatory to a Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Discussions on force reductions could initially clarify the views of both sides on key issues, including a work program for negotiations covering such matters as general guidelines and collateral constraints, as well as aspects of reductions.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 475, President’s Trip Files, Moscow Trip, May 1972, Pt. 4. Secret; Nodis.
  2. See Document 95.