80. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Brandt Visit: Morning Meeting
  • Berlin Negotiations


  • German
    • Willy Brandt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
    • Helmut Schmidt, Minister of Defense
    • Rolf Pauls, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
    • Egon Karlheinz Bahr, State Secretary (Office of the Chancellor)
    • Georg Duckwitz, State Secretary (Foreign Office)
    • Klaus von Dohnanyi, State Secretary (Ministry of Science and Technology)
    • Hans Noebel, Minister, German Embassy
    • Carl Lahusen, German Embassy
    • Joseph J. Thomas, German Embassy
    • Heinz Weber, Interpreter
    • Wolf Dietrich Schiller, Personal Aide to the Chancellor
  • American
    • William P. Rogers, Secretary of State
    • Melvin R. Laird, Secretary of Defense
    • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Elliot L. Richardson, Under Secretary of State
    • Nathaniel Samuels, [Deputy] Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
    • Paul A. Volcker, Under Secretary of the Treasury
    • Lee A. DuBridge, Science Advisor to the President
    • Kenneth Rush, Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany
    • Martin J. Hillenbrand, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
    • Anthony Jurich, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Treasury, National Security Affairs
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, National Security Council
    • James S. Sutterlin, Director, Office of German Affairs
    • William Newlin, Office of German Affairs

Secretary Rogers asked Ambassador Rush to review the Berlin talks. The Ambassador said the most significant development had been Abrasimov’s statement that West Berlin was controlled by the Three Powers and the Senat. He had always maintained previously that it was a Four Power responsibility. There were also indications that there is some flexibility in the Soviet position concerning their role in East Berlin.

The Soviets were anxious to keep the talks private with a minimum of publicity. Brandt could be kept informed, Abrasimov had said, because he could keep a secret but he asked that no one else in the FRG be briefed.

The Ambassador said that in order to assess the possibility for success we must examine each side’s goals. The Allies seek improved access for persons and goods, and arrangements permitting viable economic development. The other side seeks reduced FRG political presence and, as always, are interested in economic factors.

We have said that we view progress in Berlin as a test of Soviet good intentions to make progress in other areas such as SALT, ESC and the talks the Germans are holding. We are hopeful that the Russians understand this and will believe it is in their interest to make a serious effort to reach some agreement.

The next meeting is scheduled for April 28. Abrasimov invited the three Western Ambassadors to visit Potsdam. The British are somewhat reluctant but will probably agree.

Mr. Hillenbrand expressed interest in the German view on the question of possible quid pro quos.

Bahr referred to the German position paper and said he felt we were in general agreement. He linked the FRG negotiations in Moscow and the Four Power talks on Berlin. An agreement in Moscow on borders, he said, could be a quid pro quo for one on civilian access to Berlin.

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He said that at some stage the Germans should join the Berlin negotiations, for example in working out details of a civilian access arrangement. Other areas, however, that fell within Three Power authority, such as FRG passports for West Berliners, are of course exclusively the responsibility of the Three Powers.

Mr. Hillenbrand asked which of the Federal Republic’s activities in Berlin might be curtailed. Minister Schmidt termed that a touchy problem and Bahr suggested that it might better be treated on the flight to Cape Kennedy.

The Secretary stressed that even though he agreed that the negotiations in Berlin could be viewed as a test of Soviet good faith we wished to avoid any linkage between progress there, or anywhere else, and the SALT talks. They are quite apart. In SALT we seek ways to reduce defense expenditures on a reciprocal basis with no disadvantage to our relative military positions. We believe the Soviets have a similar objective.

He stressed that we will consult fully with our Allies concerning SALT.

Bahr agreed that SALT should not be linked to the other negotiations. He added, however, that progress in SALT might lead to discussions on Mutual Balanced Force Reductions.

Schmidt also agreed that there is no direct link between the various talks, but said that if it proved impossible to make progress in Berlin it would clearly narrow our parameters in other areas. Secretary Rogers agreed, noting it would be an ill omen for a fruitful ESC.

Bahr commented that he had made this point several times to the Soviets but that they accused him of setting preconditions for an ESC. Bahr said it was not a precondition but a fact of life. Secretary Rogers commented that whenever the Soviets want to avoid discussing a subject they brand it a precondition.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 GER W. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Newlin, cleared by Hillenbrand and Sutterlin, and approved in S on April 23. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House. The memorandum is part I of III. Parts II and III, memoranda of conversation on Cooperation in Science and Technology, and IDA Replenishment, are ibid. For a German record of the entire conversation, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 1, pp. 601–604.