186. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • A Presidential Letter for Romanian President Ceausescu

Ambassador Rudolph Aggrey, the new US envoy to Romania, will be leaving shortly to take up his post in Bucharest. I think it would be appropriate when he presents his credentials also to deliver a letter from you to Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu.2

[Page 556]

Ambassador Aggrey is replacing Harry Barnes, who has been a particularly effective envoy and has established excellent contacts with Romanians at all levels. There have been intelligence reports that at least some high level Romanian officials interpret Aggrey’s assignment to Bucharest as a sign of declining American interest in Romania. Using Aggrey as the channel to deliver a Presidential letter will both reaffirm interest in Romania and underline your confidence in him.

At the present time, it is important that we make gestures to the Romanians to reaffirm our interest in their foreign policy.3 Although much could be done to improve its internal policy, Romania is still the Warsaw Pact state which shows the greatest foreign policy autonomy from the Soviet Union. We are in the process of reaffirming our interest in Poland (through your visit) and Hungary (through returning the Crown and then negotiating a trade agreement), but the only sign of our interest in Romania is a visit to Washington by Ceausescu next spring for which we are still not able to give the Romanians a date despite their frequently expressed wishes to fix a firm time.

Shortly after your inauguration, President Ceausescu sent a special envoy with a personal letter for you expressing the desire to maintain good relations. It would be useful and appropriate for us to send him a message on this occasion.


That you sign the letter to President Ceausescu at Tab A.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 16, Romania: President Nicolae Ceausescu, 2/77–12/78. Confidential. Sent for action.
  2. Aggrey suggested the letter during a meeting on November 11 with Aaron. King edited a Department of State version and forwarded it to Brzezinski on November 14. Aaron wrote on King’s memorandum to Brzezinski: “ZB—I think this is worth doing so that we have our channel.” Brzezinski approved the recommendation. (Ibid.)
  3. On October 17, King sent a memorandum to Brzezinski recommending a brief meeting between Carter and Patan, who was to travel to Washington for the Joint U.S.-Romanian Economic Commission November 1–3. King wrote: “A Presidential meeting with Patan would be an important political gesture at present. Our latest actions have probably raised doubts in suspicious Romanian minds about our interest and concern with their affairs,” pointing to the upcoming visit by Carter to Poland and the return of the Crown of St. Stephen to Hungary. Recommending disapproval, Aaron wrote “ZB—I disagree. This is not worth the President’s time at this stage.” Disapproving the recommendation, Brzezinski highlighted Patan’s position as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Trade and wrote in the margin “The P. is not an Asst. Sec. of State!” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 66, Romania: 1/77–5/78) On November 2, Patan met with Vice President Mondale for 15 minutes and was briefly received by the President. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 45, Romania: 1977)
  4. Carter approved the recommendation and, after revising the text, signed the letter on November 15. Several drafts, including one with Carter’s revisions, are attached but not printed.