48. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • US
  • The Secretary
  • Richard Moose—part time
  • Paul Warnke—part time
  • Marshall Shulman
  • USSR
  • Amb. Dobrynin

At a two-hour meeting held at our request September 13, the following subjects were covered:

1. Rhodesia. Moose and the Secretary reviewed in detail our plans on Rhodesia, including our intention to seek a Security Council resolution next week. Dobrynin expressed the opinion that if the Africans involved accepted the proposal, he did not think the Soviet Union would oppose it. In response to Dobrynin’s request, Moose agreed to supply the details in writing.

2. Middle East. The Secretary gave Dobrynin a preliminary review of some problems we have with language in the Soviet draft of the proposed joint statement, but indicated he would communicate a fuller response later in the week after consultation with the President. A general problem in the discussions appeared to arise from the Soviet disinclination to refer specifically to Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338,2 but to mention Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions or United Nations Resolutions, or to incorporate language from the resolutions without naming them. The Secretary suggested that the joint statement might better be issued at the conclusion of the New York meetings toward the end of the month, rather than during Gromyko’s visit to Washington. Dobrynin seemed to have no difficulty with this suggestion. Incidentally, Dobrynin commented favorably on the statement on the Middle East issued by the State Department on [Page 199] September 12;3 he thought it usefully clarified our position on the Palestinian problem, and called attention to Arafat’s favorable reaction.

3. SALT. In commenting on the possibility of a sublimit on MIRVd ICBMs, Dobrynin observed that this would be likely to evoke an immediate and unfavorable reaction in Moscow, as a step backward from our May position. The equity of this sublimit was discussed, against the background of the number of Soviet missiles at Pervomaisk and Derezhnaya. Dobrynin repeated his understanding of the importance of getting a response from Moscow to the illustrative principles discussed at the meeting on September 10.4

4. ABM Treaty Reaffirmation. In response to Dobrynin’s request to Shulman on September 125 for clarification of the time intended for the SCC review and the nature of the clarifications and modifications mentioned in our previous draft, Dobrynin was given a statement indicating that the review was intended to follow immediately after the November meeting, and that the clarifications and modifications were minor. Dobrynin made it clear that references to clarifications and modifications might raise questions in the public minds over the extent of the changes proposed. The statement was thereupon redrafted. The present text is attached as Tab A.6

5. Moscow Embassy Roof Materials. The Secretary made strong representations to Dobrynin requesting that the lumber required for the repair of the roof of the US Embassy in Moscow be granted prompt clearance by Soviet Customs. Dobrynin said he had no knowledge of the problem, but promised to seek expeditious handling of the matter. He added, however, that our Embassy was using the occasion of the fire to seek action on many unrelated requests.

6. Gromyko Visit.

a. The Secretary indicated that Gromyko’s meeting with the President would be at 10:30 a.m. on September 23. It was agreed that Gromyko and the Secretary might meet together earlier that morning. Dobrynin suggested that Gromyko might wish to mention the Middle East in his talk with the President, and it was therefore agreed that a [Page 200] half-hour would be set aside on the afternoon of the 22nd for a brief preliminary discussion of the Middle East between Gromyko and the Secretary.

b. The Secretary indicated that Mrs. Vance would be pleased to give a tea for Mrs. Gromyko if she should accompany the Foreign Minister to Washington.

c. Dobrynin suggested that Gromyko might wish to have an opportunity to talk with the Secretary alone, following the luncheon on the 22nd. The possibility was kept open that Gromyko might wish to return to the Soviet Embassy for a brief period thereafter, and before the start of the afternoon session.

d. Dobrynin inquired who would be present at the meeting with the President. The Secretary replied that, in addition to himself, there would be the Vice President, Dr. Brzezinski and a notetaker. Dobrynin said that Gromyko would be accompanied at the meeting by himself, Kornienko and Sukhadrov, the interpreter.

e. The Secretary suggested the possibility that in the course of the meetings, it would be useful to review the status of the various working groups set up following the Moscow meeting, and that the communique might include a reference to this review. Dobrynin concurred in the suggestion.

7. Miscellany.

a. Dobrynin asked the Secretary whether there was any possibility of a favorable US response to the Soviet suggestions of a declaration on the non-use of force, and on no first-use of nuclear weapons in Europe. The Secretary indicated that the former did not appear to have practical value, but that we still had the latter suggestion under study.

b. The Secretary asked Dobrynin about the Soviet view of developments in the Horn of Africa. Dobrynin indicated that the matter was a delicate one, but he went on to say that the Soviet Union had done its best to stop the fighting in the area, and was trying to hold arms shipments to a minimum. However, he added, irrationality on both sides made the situation difficult.

c. Dobrynin inquired conversationally about the composition of the US Delegation to the United Nations, and to the Belgrade CSCE Conference. When these had been answered, Dobrynin indicated an interest in whether the appointment of Justice Goldberg7 to the CSCE meeting implied a change of policy. He also inquired whether the Secretary as well as the President would be speaking at the General Assembly. The Secretary said this had not been decided.

  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 3, DobryninVance, 9/13/77. Secret. Drafted by Shulman on September 14. The meeting took place in Vance’s office at the Department of State.
  2. Security Council Resolution 338, sponsored by the United States and Soviet Union and adopted on October 22, 1973, called for a cease-fire between Arab and Israeli forces in the October War. The resolution had three parts, which called for: 1) the cease-fire to begin twelve hours after the adoption of the resolution, 2) full implementation of Resolution 242, and 3) negotiations to begin immediately to bring peace to the Middle East. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1973, p. 213)
  3. The New York Times reported: “The State Department said today in a new policy statement on the Middle East that ‘the Palestinians must be involved in the peacemaking process’ to insure a successful settlement. Palestinian representatives ‘will have to be at Geneva for the Palestinian questions to be solved.’” (Bernard Gwertzman, “U.S. Asserts Need for Palestinian Role at Geneva Meeting,” September 13, 1977, p. 1)
  4. See Document 47.
  5. The September 12 memorandum of conversation between Shulman and Dobrynin is in the 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 3, MDSDobrynin, 9/12/77.
  6. Attached but not printed is the “Revised (9/13/77) Draft Joint Statement.”
  7. Carter appointed Arthur Goldberg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from October 1962 until July 1965, as U.S. Ambassador to the Belgrade Conference (CSCE).