187. Editorial Note

On February 24, 1971, Ambassador Rush replied by special channel to the February 22 message from Assistant to the President Kissinger on the Berlin negotiations (Document 185). In response to Kissinger’s inquiry, Rush agreed that an annex, or unilateral Soviet declaration, to the quadripartite agreement should address specific provisions on access to the city. German Chancellor Brandt and State Secretary Bahr, he reported, had accepted this suggestion but the respective views of the Allies and the Department of State were as yet “unknown.” Noting the influence of Soviet suggestions on the text of the proposed annex, Rush then explained:

“None of these changes have as yet been disclosed to the Russians. It may be that you will want to put them to Dobrynin as thoughts which would be passed on to us, if he agrees that they would be helpful in furthering our negotiations.

“The strategy which we now plan to adopt is to press the Russians as far as possible to finalize the access part of the agreement with two objectives in mind: (1) to enable us to allow the FRG and GDR to commence negotiations on the details of access, something which Abrasimov and Kohl have individually been pressing very hard, and (2) to enable us to proceed with the FRG to see how far we can go on the federal presence issue. Brandt thinks that both politically and otherwise we can as of now give nothing more on presence until the access issue is resolved. It would be of great value if you could induce Dobrynin to accept this strategy and to assist in having Abrasimov instructed to proceed accordingly. We have agreed with Abrasimov that [Page 561] all issues are interdependent and nothing is binding until all aspects of the agreement are finalized.

“In the light of this, I do not think it would be advisable to outline to Dobrynin any more of our thinking with regard to federal presence at this time, except to indicate that if and when access provisions are tentatively settled, we hope to be in a position, with the concurrence of the FRG, to work out some limitations on the issues of committee and party group meetings and on federal offices in Berlin. Brandt told me yesterday that he feels that there is more possibility of give on the committee and party group meetings than there is on the federal offices. Politically, until we have a good tentative access agreement, Brandt cannot move on federal presence, nor can we. This is particularly true, since there are no secrets in this regard in Germany.”

After providing the text of the preamble for the annex, Rush outlined the following principles on access to Berlin:

  • “1. Surface traffic by road, rail and waterways between the western sectors and the Federal Republic of Germany for all persons and goods shall be unhindered and facilitated.
  • “2. The movement of all persons and goods between the western sectors and the Federal Republic of Germany on the routes utilized by such traffic shall take place upon identification only, except as provided for in paragraphs (a) and (b) below, and the procedures applied shall not involve any delay.
  • “3. Detailed arrangements concerning civilian access on surface routes are set forth below. Measures to implement them will be agreed between the appropriate German authorities.”

Rush concluded by presenting a list of detailed arrangements, similar but not identical to the provisions eventually listed in the quadripartite agreement of September 3 (Documents on Germany, pages 1138–1139), including the two exceptions noted above: (a) sealed cargo may be conveyed “without control other than inspection of the seals;” and (b) passenger trains and buses may travel directly to and from Berlin without control. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Berlin, Vol. 1 [2 of 2])

On February 25 Bahr also replied by special channel to Kissinger’s message on Berlin. The text of Bahr’s message, translated from the original German by the editor, reads:

“The Bonn Group and the Soviets appear to agree on the question of access principles and the balance in Soviet interest between a quadripartite agreement and a unilateral Soviet declaration. I cannot make a Soviet formulation proposal. I recommend that you ask Dobrynin for a draft on an informal basis that we can then consider.

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“According to previous Soviet proposals, such unacceptable formulations as ‘peaceful traffic’ or ‘in the areas of their (Soviet) competence’ negate the Soviets’ acknowledged authority for civil access. It must be clear to Dobrynin that a relapse to such Soviet formulations won’t get us anywhere.

“On the subject of federal presence, I agree that you may tell him informally of our ideas.

“On the parliamentary bodies:

  • “a) They may convene in Berlin.
  • “b) They will not contravene the regulations (i.e. the defense committee will not convene there).
  • “c) They will not demand revision of the agreement or lay claim to Berlin as a state of the Federal Republic.

“The Bonn Group is considering a proposal here, which, personally I don’t like very much, because it contains additional restrictions: such meetings should take place for the handling of laws that are later assumed for Berlin.

“To maintain one liaison office (in contrast to more) is precisely the role assumed by the Federal plenipotentiary. The representatives of the ministries would be subordinate to him; they would not lose connection to offices in Bonn, but would maintain direct communication, just as attachés do with the knowledge of the ambassador.

“I consider it a good sign that Stoph limited his invitation for negotiations with Schütz to visits and avoided traffic questions. Otherwise, he accepts for the first time that all arrangements in connection with Berlin should come into force simultaneously. The entire initiative is also a sign that the GDR is beginning to reckon with a positive result in the quadripartite negotiations.” (Ibid., Box 60, Egon Bahr, Berlin File [3 of 3]) For the German text of the message, see also Dokumente zur Deutschlandpolitik, 1971–72, Vol. I, pp. 107–8.