244. Message From the Ambassador to Germany (Rush) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

The meeting with Bahr and Falin yesterday proceeded in the same amicable, cooperative manner as our previous one.2 It is quite clear that Falin has full authorization with regard to Berlin issues, and in fact he said so. It is also clear that he is thoroughly familiar with everything transpiring in this area. For example, I am having dinner with Abrasimov Monday evening, and I asked Falin to be sure to instruct Abrasimov not to refer to your discussions with Dobrynin or mine with Falin. Falin then gave a full version of their side of that incident3 and said Abrasimov was under strict instructions with regard to this matter. As double insurance, however he is getting in touch with Abrasimov again.

Our discussion centered primarily on the issue of Federal presence and was helpful in bringing out reasons we had not anticipated for some of the Soviet positions. This in turn may lead to easy solutions of what have been major problems. I will give two examples of this.

A highly controversial item in the Federal presence area is the paragraph in the draft of letter from the three powers to the Soviets reading:

“2. They confirm that the Western sectors are not to be regarded as a Land of the Federal Republic of Germany and are not governed by it. The provision of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany and the constitution of Berlin which indicate to the contrary remain suspended.”

As you know, the Soviets have been very insistent that the statement “that the Western sectors are not to be regarded as a Land of the Federal Republic….” is not satisfactory, and instead have been quite adamant that we must say that the Western sectors are not a “part of the Federal Republic.” Falin gave the surprising explanation that the reason the “Land” phrase is unacceptable is that while the three Western sectors might not be considered to be a Land of the Federal Republic of Germany, all of Berlin might be considered to be one and [Page 719] there can be no room for such a contention. The suggestion that we substitute the words “that the three Western sectors are not to be regarded as included among the Laender of the Federal Republic” seemed at least tentatively to be satisfactory with Falin and was taken under advisement by us all.

As another example, Falin stated that the reason the Soviets could not accept “remain suspended” is that this would imply recognition that the provision of the Basic Law of the Republic and the constitution are legal and valid although temporarily suspended. The suggestion that the words “continue not to be in effect” replace “remain suspended” was also taken under advisement by all of us as a possible alternative.

Thus it may be that minor substitutions of words not affecting our basic position may resolve major controversies.

Falin reiterated the objection to an affirmative statement in the three power letter of the approval by those powers of special ties between the Western sectors and the Federal Republic. However, after a long discussion and explanation why it is essential to have this affirmative statement of special ties established and approved by the three powers in order to balance and give a basis for any limiting of the ties, he seemed to be more receptive to our approach. The issue, however, is still to be resolved.
Falin brought up and we discussed at some length the issue of demilitarization in the Western sectors and the question of banning neo-Nazi organizations. He is quite willing to have these issues settled outside the agreement in a letter from the three powers to the Soviets, but evidently considers the issues to be very important. We explained to him that the present agreement between the Four Powers regarding demilitarization applies to all of Berlin and not just the Western sectors, and to have a letter relating only to the Western sectors would cause very adverse public opinion and would not be acceptable. With regard to neo-Nazi organizations, we are willing to state that we will take steps to prevent future meetings of the NPD. We are not willing to use a phrase such as “neo-Nazis” with regard to future groups, which would be highly controversial between the Russians and the four Allies. He seemed to be satisfied, and I think we can solve these problems with a letter from the three powers, outside of the agreement, stating simply that we are banning future meetings of the NPD.
It is very difficult to say to what degree the Berlin talks can be synchronized with SALT. Judging by Falin’s approach of yesterday, there is a fair probability that the Berlin talks [will] move ahead quite rapidly by virtue of the Russians taking an easy position on all the remaining issues. We can discuss this in full when I am in Washington.
The next meeting between Bahr, Falin and me will be on June 4. Meanwhile, he is going to Moscow and may return with concrete proposals concerning most of the remaining issues.
Bahr called and asked me to tell you that he will not be sending you a message about our meeting of yesterday since the meeting was of the nature I have described above without definitive conclusions.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The message was sent through the special Navy channel in Frankfurt; no time of transmission or receipt appears on the message.
  2. See Document 235.
  3. Reference is presumably to the incident of March 23, when, during a meeting with U.S. officials in Berlin, Kvitsinsky alluded to “recent contact between Soviet and US Governments,” i.e., the channel between Kissinger and Dobrynin in Washington. See Document 207.