292. Letter From Secretary of State Muskie to Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko1

Dear Mr. Minister:

In the interest of continuing our exchange on Afghanistan and US-Soviet relations, I would like to comment on your letter of June 27.2

We have carefully considered the implications of your announcement of the withdrawal of some Soviet military units from Afghanistan. Your letter indicates that there has been a reduction of the overall number of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, although neither your public announcement nor our own analysis indicate that this is necessarily the case. We will carefully watch for evidence of such a reduction.

As the Venice Summit Communique3 makes clear, the US and the other summit participants would regard such withdrawals as a useful contribution to the solution of the Afghan crisis if they are permanent and continue until there is a complete withdrawal of the Soviet troops. We would welcome as a significant step an indication of your intention to undertake a process leading to complete withdrawal and a political settlement.

[Page 859]

We recognize that the Soviet Union has legitimate interests in the security of its borders and in friendly relations with Afghanistan. In our view, an independent and non-aligned Afghan government prepared to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbors would be consistent with Soviet interests. Such a government would have to be acceptable to the Afghan people, for otherwise there can be no restoration of peace and tranquility in Afghanistan. Any legitimate concern you may have regarding outside interference in Afghanistan could be met by mutual and reciprocal guarantees of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan by all concerned parties.

I would like to reiterate our strong interest in an improvement in US-Soviet relations based on reciprocity and mutual restraint. The key to an improvement in this relationship remains a political solution to the Afghan crisis which I believe can be achieved with the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops, pursuant to appropriate transitional arrangements. If you are prepared to discuss such a solution seriously, you will find us fully and immediately cooperative.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 61, Soviet Exchanges: 1/79–10/80. Secret; Sensitive. Telegram 185645 to multiple posts, July 14, indicates that Muskie gave this letter to Dobrynin during their meeting on July 14. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P910096–1626)
  2. See Document 285.
  3. The Venice G–7 Summit, June 22–23, 1980, was an economic summit held among the leaders of Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. For the final communiqué, see Department of State Bulletin, August 1980, pp. 7–11.
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Muskie signed the original.