204. Editorial Note
On March 22, 1971, Assistant to the President Kissinger met Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin for dinner at the Soviet Embassy Residence to discuss several issues, including the Berlin negotiations. Although the exact time of the meeting is not known, Kissinger left for the dinner at 8:10 and returned at 10:45 p.m. (Record of Schedule; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) The memorandum of conversation records the discussion on Berlin as follows:
“I told Dobrynin that I had studied the text of the Soviet note [Document 201]. Dobrynin said that he hoped we realized that they had made a major effort to meet us, that none of their formulations had been made worse and many of them had been made better. I said we considered it a positive action on the part of the Soviets that they had submitted a draft prior to bringing it up at the Four Power talks. I also said that on a number of points the Soviets followed the concept of our draft, and that they had made some progress, for example in the matter of FRG representation abroad. On the other hand, there were a number of items which gave us difficulty. I listed them from the summary of comments made on Rush’s cable (attached at Tab A) [Document 203].
“I also said there were a number of other issues. Dobrynin pointed out that it would be better if I gave him the whole list in writing. I told him therefore I would give him those in writing the next day on an unsigned sheet of paper. The list is attached at Tab B.
“Dobrynin then asked how we could proceed in the future. I told him that it was quite conceivable that our Ambassador would comment [Page 615] on his draft along the line of the comments that I had already made, and that a negotiation might develop in this manner. Dobrynin asked me whether the Ambassadors could meet privately. I said as far as I knew they had already met privately. Dobrynin asked whether I could send instructions to Rush to meet privately with Abrasimov. I said as far as I understood Rush did not need any instructions. At any rate that was not an insuperable issue as long as Dobrynin and I understood each other. Dobrynin then said it was very important for me to submit these comments to him as soon as possible so that they could be considered hopefully before the meeting on the 26th of the Four Powers. It was not possible to find them reflected in the Four Power document then, but I could be sure that they would be taken very seriously in the subsequent negotiations.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSF Files, Box 491, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 5 [Part 1])
After meeting Dobrynin, Kissinger sent the following message to Rush via special channel:
“I had a long talk with Dobrynin this evening. I presented in effect the first paragraph of your ‘Summary of Comment on Individual Sections’ minus the possible concessions. I also said that the phrase ‘Western Sectors’ of Berlin has to be substituted for Berlin/West.
“Dobrynin replied that he would appreciate our formulation of the Soviet commitment for access and inner-city improvements. He also wants our wording on Federal presence. This will not be incorporated in the Soviet draft to be presented on March 25. It will be used to develop subsequent instructions for Abrasimov. May I have your suggestions by return cable.
“Dobrynin also asked me to give him additional comments. May I give him essence of your other comments minus the fallback portions?
“Finally, Dobrynin asks whether you could be instructed to discuss our comments at occasional private meetings with Abrasimov. Since Dobrynin is leaving for Moscow I promised him an answer on both our formulations and your meetings with Abrasimov by close of business Tuesday, March 23.
“Warm regards.” (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 2 [2 of 2])
Late on the afternoon of March 23, Kissinger and Dobrynin continued their discussion of the Berlin negotiations by telephone. The following is an excerpt from a transcript of the conversation:
“K: I am going to send over some partial comments.
“D: That would be helpful.
“K: On the draft.
“D: I remember.[Page 616]
“K: But I want you to understand these are not phrased in polite diplomatic language.
“D: I understand.
“K: They are phrased in terms of what is acceptable and what is not. We will instruct our Ambassador accordingly.
“D: Just indicates the direction of your thinking?
“K: Yes, they are not formal and are all negative.
“D: They are all negative. There must have been something positive.
“K: I told you the positives yesterday—these are the things we want changed. But we do not have an exact formulation. We will try to have that tomorrow, but have indicated what we want.
“D: Those four major things?
“K: They are in there. Was that all you wanted? I gave you comments on every section.
“D: That is fine.
“K: But we will approach it in a positive spirit. One point on which I may have misled you. We are prepared to upgrade the commercial representation you have there, but we cannot do anything that has diplomatic status. But this is informal—not in the document.
“D: Okay. I understand. I am going to Moscow on Saturday [March 27]. I know you are leaving on Friday. If I have any questions I will drop them in the mail to you before Friday.
“K: Okay, Friday afternoon is when I leave.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 366, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
The list of partial comments, based on suggestions in the message from Rush to Kissinger of March 21 (Document 203), reads:
- Point 1 should contain a positive statement on FRG-Berlin ties and indicate Soviet acceptance of the continued Supreme Authority of the three Western Powers in the Western Sectors.
- Point 2 on access must represent a solid undertaking at least of the Soviet Union that surface access to Berlin for civilian persons and goods will be unhindered.
- Point 3 on inner-Berlin improvements should be drafted as a Four Power or at least a Soviet commitment.
- Point 4 on the representation abroad of the Western Sectors should be drafted to reflect the fact that it is a responsibility of the three Western Powers, not the Soviet Union, to determine how the Western Sectors should be represented abroad.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 491, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 5 [Part 1])