68. Telegram From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State1

Secto 26/1859. For the President from the Secretary. Re NATO Meeting.

1. This was the most constructive and least contentious NATO Meeting2 I have yet attended. When we finished our work today we did so in complete agreement on the procedural steps NATO should take toward force reduction talks and on the necessity of a satisfactory conclusion of the Berlin negotiations before multilateral consultations on a European security conference are undertaken. I also had several good bilateral talks.

2. Your active leadership in defeating the Mansfield Amendment made a deep impression on our Allies and contributed to a sense of confidence in us which helped pull the Alliance together in spite of diverse opinions on details of the force reduction issue.

3. I think we now have a process going which will help us avoid any unilateral reductions and give us time to prepare serious negotiating proposals.

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4. Berlin—On Berlin I found the UK, France and Germany all more optimistic than we have been on the progress recently made in the talks. Soviet willingness to state its own responsibility for maintaining civilian access to Berlin has particularly impressed them. I stressed that many of the most difficult issues lie ahead and that progress really would not be assured until we have an agreement, but agreed in the communiqué to wording expressing “satisfaction” the negotiations had “enabled progress to be registered in recent weeks.” All three also are prepared to concede Soviet consular representation as well as other increases in Soviet presence in West Berlin as part of the next phase of negotiations. I told them I understood their views but was not now in a position to express a view. We will have to re-examine this matter upon my return.

5. Security Conference—Based on statements from Gromyko that the Soviet Union recognized in fact that a European security conference could not precede a Berlin settlement, Schumann tried at some length to alter the communiqué language so that it no longer would clearly state that a satisfactory conclusion was a precondition. With the support of Scheel and Sir Alec3 I insisted that the language must be as clear as last year, though its tone could be more positive. Schumann finally conceded. The communiqué expressed the hope that before our next meeting negotiations “will have reached a successful conclusion” and that multilateral conversations intended to lead to a conference on security and cooperation “may then be undertaken.”

6. MBFR —Real opinion on MBFR ranges from the French, who again refrained from participation; to the British, who have some doubts that reductions can be brought about without some security disadvantage; to the Germans, who favor the idea but do not want it to get ahead of Berlin; to the Scandinavians, Canada and Belgium, who want to push forward promptly, mainly for domestic public opinion reasons. But in the light of Brezhnev’s recent remarks and of our own political battle over unilateral reductions everyone agreed NATO needed to maintain the initiative.

7. Our proposals for (a) bilateral contacts to probe Soviet intentions more fully over the next few months, accompanied by preparation of NATO negotiating positions, (b) a Deputy Foreign Minister or comparable level meeting in the fall to assess results and to take necessary further decisions hit just the right balance between prompt action and prudence. Several other countries suggested that we might appoint a single representative to consult for us now. I added this to our sugges[Page 297]tion as a step that might ensue from the Deputy meeting. This produced full agreement.

8. The course of MBFR talks as now agreed will be:

(a) Transmission of the communiqué to the Soviet Union and others by Moro.

(b) Bilateral explorations with the Soviet Union and preparation of our negotiating views.

(c) A Deputy Foreign Minister or “high official” level meeting at an early date (in the fall) to consult on “substantive and procedural approaches to MBFR.”

(d) Willingness to appoint “at the appropriate time,” a representative or representatives responsible to the Council for conducting further exploratory talks, and a willingness eventually to work out the time, place, arrangements and agenda for negotiations.

[Omitted here is information unrelated to NATO.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Executive Secretariat, Conference Files, 1949–72, CF 521. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Pedersen, cleared by Hillenbrand and Nicholas Platt, Deputy Director, Secretariat Staff, and approved by Rogers. On June 11, Kissinger transmitted the telegram to Nixon with a cover memorandum, which is stamped: “Pres. has seen.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 294)
  2. The meeting was held June 3–4 in Lisbon. See Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, 1971–1972, pp. 24661–24663.
  3. Walter Scheel, leader of the West German Free Democratic Party; Sir Alec Douglas-Home, British Foreign Secretary.