205. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Vest) to Acting Secretary of State Christopher 1


  • US-Romanian Relations: Next Steps

The Romanians will be upset over the Pacepa case for some time.2 It will affect the tone and frequency of their contacts and exchanges with us. Ceausescu’s image as a man in control of his internal affairs is shaken and his natural paranoia about his advisers is heightened.

As unfortunate as this event surely is, Ceausescu is now in a phase of high international posture with his recent speech once again declaring Romania’s independent foreign policy line, his cool meeting with [Page 639] Brezhnev, and the visit of Chairman Hua. (We and INR have sent you separately an analysis of Ceausescu’s current international posture.) Our conclusion is that Ceausescu needs his relations with the US as much, if not more than he did before. It is in our interest to play to that reality and trust that in time they will get over the Pacepa affair.

The Romanians have come back again on Pacepa (Tab A),3 demanding that he be extradited. We believe that, because of the conjunction of the Pacepa case and Ceausescu’s current exposed position in international affairs, it would be advisable, via some specific positive steps, to reiterate our continued commitment to improved US-Romanian relations. We propose the following:

Instruct Ambassador Aggrey to tell Andrei that the President is prepared to send a special emissary to Romania soon. The Romanians like the idea of special emissaries (you recall Pungan).

The emissary would:

—Report candidly on Pacepa, stressing that we had no part in his decision to defect.

—Report on the Camp David Summit (which Ceausescu would welcome because of his earlier role in the Middle East talks), and seek a full briefing on Hua’s visit.

—Present concrete evidence of our continued interest in bilateral economic cooperation by informing the Romanians of USG approval of certain pending export license cases of special interest to them.

—Tell Andrei that you are looking forward to meeting with him at the UNGA, especially to discuss various international issues.

We also have a Vance-Ceausescu letter, now awaiting NSC clearance, on the Middle East Summit which reiterates the President’s personal interest in good bilateral relations.

Who to be the special emissary?

There are two good candidates for special emissary: Christopher and Nimetz. Both will be in the area in the coming weeks on other business.

The Deputy Secretary would be the highest level official (other than Secretary Bergland) to visit Romania in this Administration.4 As [Page 640] special emissary, he would thus underscore the high importance of our concern. A visit could be tied in with his planned trip to Greece.

Matt Nimetz knows Romania well and the Romanians like and trust him as a result of their frequent contacts. His reputation as Counselor and “trouble shooter” would enhance his role as special emissary. He could make the visit in connection with his trip to Cyprus.


1. That you agree to send a special emissary in early September who would be authorized to discuss US-Romanian relations and brief Ceausescu on the Camp David Summit, as outlined above.

Approve Disapprove

Nimetz 5 Christopher


2. That you authorize the special emissary to tell Andrei that you want to meet with him at the UNGA, with specific timing to be worked out later.

Agree6 Disagree

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Records of the Office of the Deputy Secretary, Warren Christopher, Lot 81D113, Box 5, WC—Official Chron—1978. Secret; Roger Channel. Luers initialed the memorandum for Vest. Drafted by Schmidt; cleared by Luers. The date is handwritten at the top of the first page. The word “Acting” is inserted by hand before Secretary.
  2. Lieutenant-General Ion Mihai Pacepa, First Deputy of the Director of Foreign Intelligence Branch of the Securitate, State Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, and Ceausescu’s counselor for National Security and Economic Development, defected to the United States on an official trip to West Germany in August. He was the highest-ranking Eastern European defector during the cold war. In September 1978, the Romanian Government indicted Pacepa for high treason, condemned him to death, and placed a $2 million bounty on his head. The death sentence was overturned in 1999 by the Romanian Supreme Court.
  3. Attached but not printed at Tab A is telegram 5749 from Bucharest, August 16.
  4. During his visit to Bucharest May 23–24, Secretary of Agriculture Bergland met with Manea Manescu, as well as several other Romanian officials. The Embassy transmitted a summary of his meetings and discussions on May 25, in telegram 3594 from Bucharest. (National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Office of Analysis for the Commonwealth and Eastern Europe, Office Subject Files, 1965–1980, Lot 92D412, Box 6, Romania-US—Econ)
  5. Christopher approved sending Nimetz as a Special Emissary to Bucharest and added: “If convenient on his Cyprus trip.”
  6. Christopher approved a meeting between the Secretary and Andrei at the UNGA. He deleted “you want” and added: “Secretary would be glad to meet with him should he wish such a meeting.”