97. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Secretary of State Vance in Tanzania1

WH80506. Subject: Conversation With Dobrynin.

Dobrynin called yesterday asking to have lunch with me prior to his trip to Moscow. Lunch was held today. We talked for about an hour or so. His first and immediate concern was to know whether you were coming to Moscow with specific proposals, designed to accomplish at least as much progress as—in his words—was accomplished during Gromyko’s visit here. I told him that you were going to Moscow in a constructive spirit to move forward the SALT negotiating process and to review the overall nature of our relationship. However, I indicated that I was not in a position to discuss the nature of the U.S. SALT position, though some elements of that may be conveyed to him by Warnke. He was scheduled to see Warnke afterwards. The conversation then focused on broader aspects of U.S.-Soviet relations. Dobrynin stressed that the Soviet leadership feels rather “emotional” about the relationship. He expressed the view that it is important for us to try to develop political understanding and that this requires more regular consultations. He agreed with me that the correspondence between the two leaders has not filled the void and he repeatedly inquired as to [Page 315] whether I had any ideas as to how we might enhance our “consultative” relationship. Without being specific, I did indicate to him that it is very important that we not only negotiate specific issues but that we periodically review the wider pattern of our relationship, discussing candidly those issues regarding which we have conflicting viewpoints. In this connection I explicitly mentioned the Middle East and Africa as examples of areas regarding which each of us seems to have different perceptions. I also added that in our view their recent conduct in Africa was not compatible with a stable and increasingly cooperative relationship. Dobrynin did not try to rebut me on that specific point but kept pursuing the question as to how we could best enhance our communications so as to narrow down such differences.

I believe that his concerns will provide a useful opening for some of the points that you intend to make in your general opening presentation. I told him that I would report on our conversation to the President and that I would inform you fully. Finally, towards the end he again inquired whether you would be coming with forthcoming proposals and expressed eagerness to learn more about them from Warnke. When asked if the Soviet side was also planning to make constructive proposals, he indicated that he at this time did not know.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Geographic File, Box 6, U.S.S.R.—U.S.-Soviet Relations: 2/77–6/78. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent to the Embassy in Tanzania with instructions to deliver at the opening of business. Vance arrived in Dar es Salaam on April 13, the first leg of a trip that would take him to South Africa, Rhodesia, the United Kingdom, and, April 19–23, the Soviet Union.