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

24743. Subject: Gromyko Response to Secretary’s Letter. Refs: A. Moscow 1088.2 B. State 19053.3

1. Secret—Entire text.

2. Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin on January 294 delivered to the Secretary a reply from Gromyko to the Secretary’s January 23 letter (ref B). The text follows.

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3. Begin text:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I have carefully studied your letter of January 24 transmitted through the US Embassy in Moscow and take note of the wish expressed therein to work for development of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. This corresponds to our intentions too.

Indeed, there exists quite a number of questions in Soviet-American relations, including the ones which deserve priority attention and on which it would be advisable to exchange views. It can only be regretted that such questions, judging by your letter, have not yet fallen within the field of vision of the new administration.

As to certain specific questions touched upon in your letter I would like to say the following. Right after the incident when the US Embassy personnel were seized in Tehran, the Soviet Union in clear and unambiguous terms came out against actions of that type, in favor of the strict observance of the Vienna Convention provisions concerning respect for diplomatic immunity and, accordingly, in favor of the immediate release of the detainees. This was also the position we adhered to during the discussion of this question in the U.N. Security Council at the end of 1979 as well as in the following period. The U.S. Government is also fully aware of the fact that it was from these same positions that we addressed ourselves directly to the Iranian leadership.

This, however, is now passed over in silence. Neither your letter nor the public statements of representatives of the administration contain a single kind word addressed to the Soviet Union in connection with the position it adopted. Instead, clearly tendentious assessments are being given to what was reported in the Soviet news media in connection with the release of the American diplomats. Moreover, this is being done in such a way as to entirely distort in the eyes of public opinion the position held by the Soviet state on this matter. One cannot help asking the question of why all this is being done and whether any thought is being given as to how we should regard such distorted interpretations.

Now about Poland. First of all I must say in a totally definite way that the internal affairs of this sovereign socialist state cannot be a subject of discussion between third countries, including between the USSR and the USA. If one is to speak, however, of outside attempts to exert influence on the internal situation in Poland, then it is necessary to state that such attempts do in fact take place and that they are being undertaken precisely on the part of the USA and other Western powers. In this regard it is sufficient to mention at least the provocative and instigatory transmissions of the “Voice of America” and other US Government controlled radio stations broadcasting to Poland. Constituting open interference in the internal affairs of Poland, those broadcasts are, [Page 26] in addition, aimed at arousing among the Polish population unfriendly sentiments with regard to the Soviet Union. There are also facts which indicate that the interference of Western powers in Polish affairs is not limited to radio broadcasts alone.

Here again a question arises: What purpose then is being served by the attempts of the American side to introduce the “Polish theme” into the Soviet-American dialogue and to make at the same time inappropriate “warnings” addressed to the Soviet Union?

As far as Poland is concerned we, for our part, are guided by the provisions of the joint statement—which, I believe, you are familiar with—adopted at the beginning of last December in Moscow at the meeting of the leaders of the Warsaw Treaty states.5 This document spells out the collective position of the Warsaw Treaty countries, including the Polish People’s Republic itself, whose leaders participated in that meeting.

Since you, Mr. Secretary, did not bypass in your letter the Afghanistan aspect either, I would like to present briefly our position in this respect. Its essence is that there must be a cessation of the armed incursions into the territory of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and of all other interference in its internal affairs, and firm guarantees must be given that this will not be resumed. Doing so would also eliminate the reasons that brought forth the necessity of introducing into Afghanistan a limited contingent of Soviet troops at the request of the DRA Government in accordance with the existing norms of international law.

Concrete paths leading to the achievement of a political settlement of the situation around Afghanistan were set forth in the DRA Government statement of May 14, 1980. Later, on more than one occasion, including quite recently, the DRA Government has confirmed its readiness to start working on the appropriate agreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as between Afghanistan and Iran. The United States for its part could, no doubt, contribute to the cause of a political settlement if it were to facilitate the beginning of a dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan and did not attempt, as is the case now, to raise obstacles thereto.

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In conclusion I would like once more to confirm our readiness for an exchange of views on a wide range of issues. I hope that subsequently in our exchange of views a proper place will be accorded to the questions on the resolution of which depend, in the first instance, the prospects for the development both of Soviet-American relations and of the international situation as a whole.

Sincerely, A. Gromyko.

Moscow, January 28, 1981.

End text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by German; cleared by Vest; approved by Bremer. The Soviet Embassy made public Gromyko’s letter on February 11. (“Text of Gromyko’s Response to a Letter From Haig,” New York Times, February 11, 1982, p. A12)
  2. Telegram not found.
  3. See Document 4.
  4. A report on this meeting is printed as Document 12.
  5. Reference is to the closing statement of a Warsaw Pact summit held in Moscow that concluded on December 5, 1980. In telegram 19286 from Moscow, December 5, 1980, Watson reported to Washington that “judging from the communique issued this evening the Warsaw Pact summit was called to pressure the Kania regime into a firmer stand and to make clear that ‛fraternal assistance’ is standing in the wings. Thus the threat of outside military intervention seems abated for the moment.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D800581–0422)