298. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Berlin

State’s 1513682 from Secretary Rogers to Ambassador Rush, about which I called Haig on the aircraft, has been repeated to you.

Secretary’s message was precipitated by extremely rapid pace of negotiations in last 48 hours and growing lag in reporting from Berlin which made it virtually impossible to maintain current picture of progress and to provide Rush with up-to-date guidance. British in London on August 17 made formal démarche to our Embassy about pace of negotiations and about their being maneuvered into isolated position on several issues on which London feels Ambassadors are giving up too much.3

As I understand it from phone calls which State has received from Berlin, present status is that Preamble and Part I have been completed and intention was to have all-night session to wrap up entire text. State is disturbed about several formulations evidently accepted by Rush, particularly new language incorporating reference to Soviet interests in West Berlin in body of agreement. NSDM 1064 specifically precluded this. Soviets have also apparently watered down their access “guarantee” and have gotten Western Ambassadors to accept Russian word for “unimpeded” which in fact means “without difficulty.” Individually, as you know, most of these phrases involve distinctions that are more artificial than real. But cumulatively, it seems clear from what has been reported, the trend of the last three days has been to dilute the position set down in governing NSDMs.

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When State told me of their intention to dispatch the Secretary’s message to Rush, I told them I could not clear it without checking with you and would not be able to do so fully until you were on the ground and could see text. I told them that I would make sure you had the Secretary’s message as soon as you arrived. They said time pressure made it mandatory to send Flash message to Rush at once and this was Secretary’s wish though he also wanted us to be informed of what he was doing.

It is my judgment that the Secretary’s message is warranted by developments.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 692, Country Files, Germany (Berlin), Vol. IV. Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten note indicates that the memorandum was sent to Kissinger in San Clemente.
  2. Document 297.
  3. As reported in telegram 7608 from London, August 17. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 38–6) See Document 316.
  4. Document 225.