56. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1


  • NATO Ministerial Meeting

The December 2–4 NATO Ministerial meetings were characterized by a new degree of Allied unity, a realistic reading of East-West détente possibilities, and a re-affirmation of the need to maintain and improve Allied conventional defense capabilities.

There was universal appreciation for your statement affirming U.S. intent to maintain forces in Europe at current levels in the absence of reciprocal reductions and given a similar approach by our Allies.2 The decision by most European members of the Alliance on a long-term burden-sharing program reflected a recognition by our European allies of their responsibility to do more. Indeed, I sensed at the meeting an enhanced degree of understanding with us, based at least in part on Europe’s rising confidence in itself and in NATO’s prudent policies of the past two years.

The meeting concluded with a strong communiqué which is compatible with our policies and objectives in the European area. For the immediate future there is unanimity that the touchstone of future progress toward détente is the Berlin negotiations. Should these reach a satisfactory agreement, there will be increased pressure to move towards a European Security Conference.

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On mutual and balanced force reductions we are agreed to continue to seek exchanges with Eastern Europe. The NATO proposal is to discuss a balanced reduction of “stationed” forces as an integral program including indigenous forces and to do so through bilateral “exploratory talks” now. (The Warsaw Pact had talked about “foreign” forces, had not referred to any balance, and had sought to defer discussions until after a security conference.)

Mediterranean security was discussed by both Foreign and Defense Ministers, and there was general recognition of the need to improve NATO’s presence there.

Many Ministers spoke highly of the Committee on Challenges of Modern Society. It is now solidly launched, and its action on oil-spills marks a tangible achievement widely praised in Europe.

The meeting also provided me opportunities to talk to the Greeks and the Turks. I urged the former to impress on the Prime Minister the need to move more quickly to return to constitutionalism. The Turk indicated that his Prime Minister had postponed visiting Washington until he secures legislation on controlling opium production.

My German, British and French colleagues joined me in a constructive discussion of Germany’s Eastern Policy and on Berlin. We all affirmed that it was up to the Soviets to be forthcoming if agreement on Berlin were to be achieved.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Executive Secretariat, Conference Files, 1949–72, CF 479–482. Confidential. On December 19, Sonnenfeldt drafted a cover memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon, but a notation of January 2, 1971, reads: “OBE’d by HAK’s office. Memo did not go to President.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 260, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. IX)
  2. Rogers read the President’s message at the December 3 opening session of the North Atlantic Council meeting. For the text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 1086–1087.