94. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

91104. For the Ambassador from the Secretary. Subject: Meeting With Dobrynin.

1. I met with Dobrynin today following his return from consultations.

2. On the basis of his several hours of discussion with Brezhnev, and lengthy consultations with Gromyko and other authorities, Dobrynin emphasized the crucial importance of my trip to Moscow as a possible turning point in US-Soviet relations. He said that Brezhnev is expecting to meet with me, and urgently hopes that I will be able to bring him evidence of our serious commitment to move forward on SALT. This is in his view the key issue. “He does not ask that the American side make all the concessions,” Dobrynin reported, “but only that it show that it is willing to negotiate seriously to clear away the remaining issues.” There should be no doubt, he said, that Brezhnev would like to meet with the President, if there is a prospect of a successful outcome, following the Moscow talks, and, if necessary, the talks with Gromyko back here in May.

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3. We found that his list of the principal issues to be resolved in SALT corresponded with our own.

4. In the course of our general discussion of US-Soviet relations, I emphasized the importance of the factor of Soviet arming and transport of Cuban troops to Africa in contributing to the deterioration in Soviet-American relations. Although he argued about the justification of this reaction, he recognized that it was a fact, and said in response that in the present climate, in which there was anger among the Soviet leaders about the “pin-pricks” and “propaganda warfare” from the US side, when the air was filled with “threats” and there was an absence of any positive steps in the relationship, it was difficult to get support in Moscow for any measures to accommodate American sensibilities on this or any other points, large or small. In this climate, he said, the propagandists felt free to respond to US attacks on a tit-for-tat basis, though there was a taboo against personal attacks on the President. He expressed the hope that, if the Moscow talks succeed and this was followed by a successful summit, there would be a disposition to try to be more responsive to American concerns in Africa and elsewhere.

  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, CV–Dobrynin, 4/9/78. Confidential; Cherokee; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Shulman; cleared by James Thyden (S/S–O); approved by Vance.