95. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • SALT, Moscow Visit, Shevchenko,2 Moscow Accommodations


  • US
  • The Secretary
  • Marshall D. Shulman
  • Paul Warnke
  • USSR
  • Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
[Page 310]

SUMMARY: During a brief meeting on April 12, the Secretary and Dobrynin discussed SALT and other matters that will come up during the Secretary’s visit to Moscow; the Shevchenko case; and the problem of delays in providing accommodations for our Embassy personnel in Moscow

Ambassador Dobrynin came to the Department April 12 to discuss subjects related to the Secretary’s trip to Moscow April 20–22.

I. SALT: The Secretary told Dobrynin that the President would be signing instructions for the trip within the next 24 hours, and that Warnke would convey to Dobrynin elements of the positions to be discussed that would help Soviet authorities to prepare for the meeting. Warnke said he would also be sending information to the SALT delegation at Geneva, and Dobrynin replied that this would be good; Semenov, he said, was fully au courant.

The Secretary said that the President wished him to stress the need for Soviet understanding of the political importance of bridging the gap on the Backfire issue. Dobrynin replied that it was not a problem of understanding, but the unacceptability to the Soviet Union of the repeated new demands since Gromyko’s efforts to meet US needs last September. At that time, he said, Gromyko had gotten approval from the Politburo to go as far as he did on the strength of his assurance that this would remove the Backfire obstacle to a SALT agreement.

In the course of the discussion, Dobrynin agreed that new systems and modernization would be the key issue. In response to a question, the Secretary said that he proposed to start with a discussion of SALT, and then take up the Middle East (at Soviet request) and Africa, and then return to SALT, CTB, and MBFR. Dobrynin agreed, and asked if the Secretary were prepared to continue the discussions into Saturday if necessary. The Secretary replied affirmatively. It was agreed that social functions should be held to a minimum, in order to maximize working time during the visit.

II. Shevchenko: The Secretary told Dobrynin we had no objection to Soviet doctors examining Shevchenko if he agreed. He added that we had passed the Soviet request to his attorney. Dobrynin asked if we would compel him to submit to examination, and the Secretary said no. The Secretary said we had also passed on Dobrynin’s request for another meeting with Shevchenko. The Secretary and Shulman then took Dobrynin to task for the intemperate statement issued by the Soviet UN Mission yesterday. Dobrynin disclaimed responsibility for it.

III. Embassy Moscow Housing: Dobrynin raised the question of apartments for Embassy Moscow and our decision to close the construction site of the Soviet Embassy at Mt. Alto, stating that he understood the housing problem was starting to be solved. He was told that pending clarification of discussions on housing in Moscow, we were [Page 311] suspending the deadline for closing the construction site. Shulman emphasized the serious housing problems faced by Embassy Moscow, particularly after the fire last year.3 The Secretary pointed out that this problem goes back to his trip to Moscow in March 1977 and urged that the Soviets meet their obligations.

  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 Meet-ing, 4/12/78. Secret. Drafted by Shulman. The meeting took place at the Department of State.
  2. Soviet Under Secretary General to the United Nations, Arkady Shevchenko, who the Soviets accused of defection, refused to return to Moscow, but did not seek political asylum in the United States. See Kathleen Teltsch, “Soviet Accuses U.S. of Coercing U.N. Aide,” The New York Times, April 12, 1978, p. NJ 17.
  3. See footnote 6, Document 45.