296. Letter From Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko to Secretary of State Muskie 1

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I would like in continuation of our exchange of views to express some considerations in connection with your letter of July 14.2

We have noted the interest of the US Government expressed in your letter in improving Soviet-US relations. As is well known to you, this is consistently favored by the Soviet Leadership. However, it is important to act precisely along these lines in practice. We, on our part, are ready to do so provided there is a similar readiness on the part of the United States.

Given such an approach and being guided by broad goals of strengthening peace and security our two countries, as was proved on more than one occasion in the past, are quite capable of developing constructively their relations and finding mutually acceptable solutions to most complicated questions of mutual interest for the USSR and the US.

This, to use your own word, is the key to everything. Attempts to reduce the whole matter to any one single question and to tie to it the prospects of our relations on the whole are not only wrong but also non-productive. You are aware of our assessment of the causes that led to the present state of Soviet-US relations. This was also the subject of detailed discussions at our meeting in Vienna.

Therefore, I will not restate this assessment.

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Now with regard to Afghanistan. We note the recognition in your letter of the legitimate interest of the Soviet Union in ensuring the security of its borders and in friendly relations with Afghanistan as well as of our concern about an outside interference in Afghanistan. This would seem to be a realistic premise.

However, this premise is directly contradicted by your persistent notion about the Government, which exists in the Democractic Republic of Afghanistan, being unacceptable to the US and by raising in this connection the question of “transition” to some other government. Here a complete clarity is in order: we do not intend to and will not engage even in discussions on posing the question in such a way.

I may as well note here that no useful purpose either can be served by the attempts to put in doubt the fact of the recent withdrawal of some Soviet units from Afghanistan. Why are you doing this? After all, you know as, by the way, the whole world knows, that such doubts are groundless.

As to your question what assurances of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan would be considered by us as satisfactory, the answer thereto is contained in the known proposals of the DRA Government of last May, 14. Fairly ample discussion was devoted to it also in our previous exchanges of views. The guarantees of non-interference must be an integral part of the general political settlement, the path to which goes through direct negotiations of Pakistan and Iran with the Government of Afghanistan with the aim of normalizing relations between them with simultaneous, repeat—simultaneous cessation of armed incursions into the territory of Afghanistan as well as of all forms of interference in the internal affairs of that country in general.

It is Pakistan and Iran who, by continuing to refuse to conduct negotiations, are bringing the task of the political settlement to an impasse. This is why, the United States, if it has a genuine interest in such a settlement, could, as we have already pointed out, exert appropriate influence on the Pakistani leaders and induce them to hold negotiations with the Government of Afghanistan.

We would like to hope that the US side will be able to make a realistic assessment of the situation and will take steps to facilitate in practice the process of political settlement of the situation around Afghanistan.

You may have no doubt that such a position will find an appropriate understanding on our part.


A. Gromyko 3
  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Special Adviser to the Secretary (S/MS) on Soviet Affairs Marshall Shulman—Jan 21, 77–Jan 19, 81, Lot 81D109, Box 5, ESM/Vasev, 7/22/80. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 292.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.