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

In a long session with Bahr and Falin yesterday we reached tentative final agreement on practically everything except the issue of Soviet presence in West Berlin, including the Consulate General. We are meeting again this afternoon to discuss that, and I will send you a message2 tomorrow morning prior to leaving for Berlin for the Ambassadorial talks on Friday.

A draft of the tentative agreement is enclosed,3 and it is still difficult for me to believe that it is as favorable as it is. It is still subject to the final approval of you, Gromyko, and Brandt, respectively. After weeks of highly negative Ambassadorial and advisers’ discussions and private discussions with Abrasimov concerning the issue of representation abroad, we yesterday tentatively secured from Falin practically everything we wanted. The main points are:

The Russians recognize that the Three Powers can delegate to the FRG consular functions for permanent residents of the Western sectors abroad, something that they have contested as illegal in the past. They have been insisting that they would not go along with this practice for Russia, and in fact have until now refused to accept it in the agreement for any countries except the U.S., France and Great Britain.
They have agreed, as you will note, to the FRG representing the Western sectors in international agreements and arrangements and in international organizations and conferences.
They have agreed that permanent residents of the Western sectors may participate with the FRG in international agreements and arrangements.
They have agreed that international organizations and conferences as well as exhibitions with international participation can be held in the Western sectors of Berlin.

The one issue remaining is whether they will consent to a minute outside the agreement to accept FRG passports for Russia. We will discuss that today.

All in all, this will be of incalculable benefit to West Berliners and greatly strengthen the agreement.

With regard to Federal presence, as you will note, we have come through better than we thought was possible. Annex II is to be supplemented by a note from the Three Powers to the FRG, a copy of which is attached, which outlines what “state bodies” means and contains the provisions with regard to meetings of state bodies and committees and Fraktionen in the Western sectors.

Without your intervention through the Dobrynin channel, and your setting up the talks with Bahr and Falin, I think it would have been impossible to have achieved anywhere nearly as good an agreement as we seem about to have. In fact, it would have been extremely difficult to reach any agreement, and certainly no agreement could have been reached within anywhere near the time frame that now seems possible. With the indecisive, highly technical and involved bureaucracies of four countries on our side, the slightest bit of movement requires a [Page 786] massive effort and is one of the more frustrating experiences I witnessed. You have no idea how grateful I am personally that the President and you were able to cut through all that so that progress could be made and for all the additional help and guidance you have given.

I today am sending off to the State Department the cable I mentioned in my last message, requesting authority to agree to a strictly limited Russian Consulate General in West Berlin. (The cable is Bonn 9190.)4

Today I will have to indicate to Falin that, subject to your final approval, we will agree to a Consulate General under the conditions outlined, since the entire agreement hinges upon that item and Brandt has virtually promised it to them. Without the Consulate General it is questionable whether any agreement could be secured, certainly not one having the strength of what has been tentatively agreed upon. When the carefully limited Consulate General is fitted into a strong agreement, I feel that criticism of it will be at a minimum and only by the most hard-line opponents. The present criticism comes from discussing a Consulate General in the abstract, and of course it is hard to imagine anyone advocating that. However, those with whom I have talked who are now opposed to a Consulate General have admitted that if it were necessary to give one in order to secure a strong agreement, they would be in favor of doing so.

The big problem now will be to steer the agreement through the Ambassadorial sessions starting probably August 10 and continuing for three or four consecutive days. We can expect trouble, particularly from the French, with regard to a lot of items, and since all participants have their own pet loves and hates, it may be difficult to bring them all into accepting the agreement as drafted, while at the same time keeping completely secret the fact that any agreement has been drafted. However, I am optimistic that this can be done.
There is a real danger that the State Department may seriously complicate matters by issuing instructions before and during the wrapup meeting starting August 10 which are contrary to the adoption of the agreement.5 Cables will, of course, be going in before and during the course of the meeting. I think it would be very helpful if you would [Page 787] indicate to them that you favor the plan for the several day session starting August 10, that I should have considerable discretion with regard to it, and that they should not suggest changes in the parts of the draft agreement as they are cabled in without consulting you. I suggest this, however, only for your consideration and, if you do not agree, would not wish to urge it.

I would welcome any comments or advice you may have.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 2. 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. For his memoir account, see Kissinger, White House Years, p. 830.
  2. Document 274.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Document 272.
  5. In telegram 132343 to Bonn, July 21, the Department managed to “complicate matters” by suggesting “a pause of several weeks for reflection during August.” “While not desiring to slow the pace of constructive progress,” the Department explained, “we do not believe Soviet position at present warrants placing such a strain on Western negotiators on a sustained basis.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B) The Embassy replied on July 23 that the proposal for a pause contradicted plans for a marathon session starting on August 10. “To move away from this approach at this time, after it has been discussed repeatedly among the Allies and agreed upon by the Soviets,” the Embassy reported, “might in Ambassador’s opinion be very damaging to harmony among the Allies as well as to negotiations.” (Telegram 9041 from Bonn, July 23; ibid.) In telegram 136539 to Bonn, July 28, the Department accepted the Embassy’s assessment as long as the pace of negotiations was matched by “the actual pace of Soviet forthcomingness.” In addition to an emphasis on “precision of language,” the Department further stressed that “it must be clearly understood that any agreement reached on August 10 and 11 is ad referendum to governments and can neither be initialed nor signed without governmental approval.” (Ibid.) For further discussion of the latter telegram, see Document 316.