207. Message From the Ambassador to Germany (Rush) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
I have just received a copy of an Exdis cable from Berlin (reftel secret Berlin 545),2 a copy of which is of course in the White House, reading as follows:
“Subject: Berlin Talks: Abrasimov’s Request for Private Meeting With Ambassador Rush.
- Confirming Klein–Fessenden telecon, Kvitsinskiy last night conveyed to US Abrasimov’s urgent request for a private meeting with [Page 622] Ambassador Rush at 2 p.m. on March 25. In so doing, he alluded to some recent contact between Soviet and US Governments and said he assumed Ambassador Rush would receive appropriate instructions from Washington. Without elaborating, he also said that as a result of this development the two Ambassadors might have to stay in almost constant touch. Furthermore, he stressed need for keeping Abrasimov’s request strictly confidential, including from British and French.
- Klein said he would convey request and be in touch as soon as he had appropriate instructions from Ambassador Rush.
This cable was, of course, sent without my prior knowledge, and I cannot understand why Abrasimov made the reference to recent contact between the Soviet and United States Governments. No blame, of course, should attach to anyone in the Berlin Mission for sending the cable since they have no knowledge whatever of any contact between you and Dobrynin.
In any event, this cable has now had Exdis distribution and will doubtless give rise to questions both here and in Washington. I believe that I can handle the matter adequately here by categorizing it as another divisive tactic of the Russians. When I see Abrasimov tomorrow, I shall advise him that he is to make no further such reference in the future, and when I do so advise him I will have only his interpreter, not mine, present.
You may consider it advisable, through the Dobrynin channel, to warn Abrasimov against making any reference to your contact in the future.
- The French Ambassador advised me today that Abrasimov has requested a private meeting with him on March 26 or 27 and has asked him to keep the meeting entirely confidential, including from U.S. and British, so Abrasimov is evidently following the same tactics with the French.3 The British Ambassador has had no such message from Abrasimov, so he evidently is persona non grata!
- It is most regrettable that evidently through mechanical problems in transmittal my message of yesterday4 was delayed in Frankfurt over five hours. I hope that it reached you in time for use with Dobrynin.
- If anything of interest comes up in the Abrasimov talks, I will keep you fully advised but for secrecy reasons cannot do so until I return to Bonn next Monday.5
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1 [2 of 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The message was sent through the special Navy channel in Frankfurt; a handwritten note indicates that it was received in Washington at 2028Z. Evidently on the basis of this message from Rush, Kissinger briefed the President by telephone at 7:25 that evening: “There was a little screwup—Abrasimov asked for a private meeting with Rush to ratify some things Dobrynin and I had to discuss—little screwup in the bureaucracy but Rush handled it beautifully.” Nixon replied: “Fine.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 366, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)↩
- Dated March 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B)↩
- In telegram 3481 from Bonn, March 24 (1145Z), Rush reported that Sauvagnargues had received “a similar approach from Abrasimov for a strictly private meeting, also with the same request that the others not be told.” (Ibid.) Kissinger raised the issue during a telephone conversation with Dobrynin at 10:45 a.m. on March 24: “I just found out that your super-active ambassador [Abrasimov] there has asked for others too, separately, telling them all not to tell the others which is a brilliant move. Under those conditions it would be wrong to cancel with ours. He should make it formal and make no reference to anything else.” After a brief discussion of the situation, Kissinger suggested: “What he [Abrasimov] should do is have a meeting tomorrow with ours [Rush] on the basis of showing advance copy of the text and no reference to anything else.” Dobrynin: “I am sure he has instructions. Probably in a general way. As for reference—.” Kissinger: “He must not mention names or contacts.” Dobrynin promised to send an “additional warning” to Moscow on the matter. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 366, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)↩
- Document 205.↩
- In telegram 552 from Berlin, March 25, the Mission reported: “Soviet protocol officer Khrustalev called on Mission officer morning of March 25 to inform us Abrasimov regretfully could not make March 25 appointment with Ambassador Rush. Khrustalev explained, with numerous apologies, that Abrasimov had returned from Moscow later than Embassy had expected and was compelled to devote entire day to working on documents for March Four-Power meeting. Abrasimov, said Khrustalev, proposed arranging meeting for after CPSU Congress.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B)↩