185. Telegram 75494 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iceland1

Subject: Iceland Base Negotiations—Summary of Third Round. Reference: State 073159. Summary—Purpose of third round was to receive GOI proposals, take them under advisement and avoid setting date for next round. Since both GOI and USG agreed on tactics, discussions went smoothly and efficiently. Foreign Minister left apparently well satisfied that he had achieved his purpose. Likewise, we believe we achieved our purpose which is to maintain effective base in Iceland and to avoid giving Communists in GOI any logical pretext to bring down government over defense issue. End summary.

1. Icelandic negotiating team under chairmanship of Foreign Minister Agustsson had meetings April 8 and 9 with USG team headed by Under Secretary Sisco, during which he formally presented GOI proposals which had previously been made available to NATO Embassies [Typeset Page 597] in Reykjavik and to Icelandic media. We posed several questions to probe meaning of proposals to which Agustsson replied in moderate and rather flexible terms. Our preliminary response was that purposes and activities of Iceland Defense Force would be severely affected by these proposals; that because of their ramifications they deserve serious and considerable study; and that we therefore take them under advisement. We do not expect to reply formally to these proposals for some time, and Agustsson made it clear that the GOI does not expect a quick reply, especially since it took the GOI a long time to formulate them.

2. We repeated our November 1973 proposals, and Agustsson said they were not acceptable to the GOI, although some aspects were interesting. He indicated readiness to consider new US proposals.

3. Agustsson expressed interest in working with Embassy Reykjavik on joint study of areas where Icelandic police, Coast Guard and civil aviation could take over some functions of the base, to which we agreed. He insisted this should be kept confidential. We said it would be timely to look into possibility of hiring more Icelandic nationals and training them to replace US military personnel, depending on availability of Icelandic labor.

4. We raised Icelandic request in the Iceland Defense Council for elimination of the base’s TV signal from the Reykjavik area and said we were willing to comply. Agustsson seemed pleased but made clear there was no time limit on doing so. (Interestingly, next day he remarked that requesting elimination of TV signal was probably a tactical political error on part of GOI.)

5. We said we were ready to transfer to Iceland without charge air traffic control equipment on loan to Iceland from the FAA for many years.

6. Agustsson saw Acting Secretary Rush on April 8 who spoke on keeping up NATO strength during period of détente policy. (Under Secretary briefed Agustsson on Middle East, SALT and MBFR.) Secretary of Defense Schlesinger received Agustsson April 9.

7. Secretary received Foreign Minister April 10 for brief meeting in which Secretary impressed him with knowledge of details (employment of Icelandic civilians, TV signal) and continuing importance of Iceland base as key element of NATO strength. Secretary stressed he was following base negotiations closely, appreciated Icelandic concerns, and would do everything possible to bring negotiations to mutually acceptable conclusion.

  1. Summary: The Department summarized the third round of the U.S.-Iceland defense negotiations.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 693, Country Files, Europe, Iceland, Vol. I. Secret; Exdis. Sent for information to the Mission to NATO, London, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Bonn. Drafted by Nicholas Andrews in EUR/NE; cleared by Stabler, Irving, EUR/NE, and Fry in S/S; and approved by Sisco. A memorandum of conversation on Kissinger’s April 10 meeting with Agustsson is ibid., Box 1028, Presidential/HAK Memoranda of Conversation, Memcons—1 Mar 1974–8 May 1974, HAK + Presidential (2 of 4).