285. Letter From Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko to Secretary of State Muskie1

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I have carefully read your letter of June 5,2 which is a continuation of the exchange of views we started in Vienna.3 As we agreed at that time the purpose of this exchange is to promote the improvement of Soviet-US relations, to seek solutions on a wide range of bilateral and international problems of mutual interest.

Now about the specific problem you raised in your letter: that of Afghanistan.

As you know, a few days ago we withdrew from Afghanistan, in agreement with the Government of the DRA, some Soviet military units. It was done in view of the fact that the present situation does not make it necessary to maintain in Afghanistan our military contingent of previous strength.

It goes without saying that the Soviet Union will continue to render necessary assistance to Afghanistan against any actions aimed from outside at depriving it of independence and territorial integrity. You must be well aware of that, though, from the report by L.I. Brezhnev at the recent plenary meeting of the Central Committee of our Party and from the resolution on international questions adopted by that meeting in connection with the report of the Minister of Foreign Affairs on international situation and foreign policy of the Soviet Union.

The substance of our position with regard to a political settlement of the situation around Afghanistan is that it is necessary to ensure the cessation of armed incursions from outside into the Afghan territory, to reach appropriate agreements on normalizing relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, between Afghanistan and Iran, and to guarantee non-recurrence of all forms of outside interference aimed against the Government and the people of the DRA. It is precisely in this context that the question of withdrawal from Afghanistan of the Soviet military contingent, stationed there to help in repulsing outside aggression, could be also solved.

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These are the considerations I wish to state in connection with your letter in addition to what has been already said in the conversations with the US Ambassador in Moscow.

In conclusion I deem it necessary to stress the following: in order to place Soviet-US relations into normal tracks, so that they would not be subject to fluctuations of political expediency but develop to the benefit of both our peoples and strengthening peace they cannot be built otherwise than on the basis of equality, mutual respect for each other’s legitimate interests, compliance with agreements already achieved.

The Soviet leadership has proceeded and intends to proceed in future exactly from this premise. We would like to hope that the US side will also act likewise.


A. Gromyko4
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 1, Afghanistan: 6–11/80. No classification marking. The initial “C” is written in the upper-right hand corner, indicating that Carter saw the letter.
  2. See Document 282.
  3. See Document 278.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.