138. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Haig-Gromyko Conversation


  • US

    • Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig
    • D. Arensburger, Interpreter
  • USSR

    • Foreign Minister Andrey A. Gromyko
    • V. Sukhodrev, Interpreter


Foreign Minister Gromyko did not know whether Secretary Haig had anything to add on the question of medium-range nuclear systems in Europe. If the Secretary had nothing to add, then there was nothing further that Gromyko could say on that subject. Accordingly, he proposed to move on. Though Gromyko did not know the Secretary’s possibilities, he, Gromyko, wanted to address briefly the matter of strategic arms and to listen to the Secretary’s views on that subject. Lately there had been speculations galore in the press, including speculations to the effect that the Secretary did not want to discuss this issue at the current meeting. There were even press suggestions that the Secretary’s intention was to displease the Soviet Union. Gromyko wanted to think that the situation was different, that such reports were incorrect and that they misinterpreted the views of the Secretary and the US Administration. This was a serious issue. The Soviet Union thought that now that discussions were underway on medium-range nuclear arms, the two states should deal with this question as well. After all, time was marching on and by force of circumstances it would be necessary to deal with the subject. But the more time elapsed, the more difficult it would become to deal with the subject, and the more difficult it would be to find appropriate solutions. Gromyko wanted [Page 453] to believe that the Secretary was prepared to exchange views on this matter, at least briefly. If so, Gromyko, too, was prepared to address it.

The Secretary replied that in the spirit of the principle of equal security he wanted to comment very briefly on some observations made this morning by Gromyko on the INF topic.2 Gromyko had really touched on three areas, and during lunch the Secretary had an opportunity to consider Gromyko’s comments regarding the written proposal he had read. The Secretary considered it important to reiterate again the basic observation he had made regarding the Geneva discussions thus far. What was involved was a basic difference in approach in assessing data, threats and arms, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Gromyko had made the point very vigorously that the arms in Western Europe were strategic for the Soviet Union. That, of course, was also true with respect to our Western European allies, especially in the case of the SS–20. Furthermore, Gromyko had raised the question of global versus regional. The Secretary wanted to assure Gromyko that our problem involved mobile application of these systems, especially medium-range missiles, the capability of shifting and moving them.

It was necessary to deal with this matter at the ongoing negotiations in such a way that all sides would be confident that the picture was balanced. Certain statements had been made in Geneva to the effect that aircraft carriers and aircraft on them, the A–6s and the A–7s, which were never deployed here, even FB–111s which were in the United States, were included in Soviet force balances. Accordingly, it was a very difficult problem to be sure that we viewed the threats to each country in a common perspective.

The US saw a number of flaws in the Soviet presentation of the balance of capability. The Soviet position presented thus far in Geneva obscured the fact that the Soviet side had a greater number of nuclear systems, including land-based missiles which have great precision and involve greater accuracy, and also have numerous delivery capabilities. The Soviet position presented in Geneva ignored warheads and focused only on launchers, although a more significant measure of capability involves the question of warheads. The Soviet side insisted on including the arms of the United Kingdom and France, in the balance, overlooking the fact that these were strategic systems of sovereign states outside US control.

Gromyko had focused earlier on FB–111s, A–6s and A–7s, but the Soviet side wanted to exclude several Soviet aircraft with ranges comparable to those of US systems which allegedly constituted a threat to the Soviet Union. It was necessary to have a balance in the figures [Page 454] and to resolve the differences in that regard. Until that occurred, it would be very difficult to make meaningful proposals on reductions. For example, the Secretary did not know how to tabulate the balances, even including allied systems. The Soviet inventory was overwhelmingly superior. The 580 SS–20s, SS–5s and SS–4s were associated with over 1,140 warheads, and using the approach the Soviet side had applied with regard to US nuclear-capable aircraft, the Soviet inventory involved 8,500 systems. On the other hand, F–111s, F–16s and F–4s added up to only 1,800. While the Secretary did not want to take the time now to discuss these numbers, because this should be left to experts, he had listed them in order to point out that this is where the problem started. He thought that, generally speaking, we should work toward resolving these approaches.

The Secretary said that the second area he wished to raise involved Gromyko’s rationale regarding Soviet deployment of SS–20s. The Secretary knew the facts because he had much experience with NATO and with military forces, and had witnessed the evolution of the threat to NATO Europe. He also knew very clearly the situation regarding development and deployment of SS–20s, because at that time—that is, in the late ’60s and early ’70s—he had been Dr. Kissinger’s Deputy in Washington. In this connection, it was necessary to take into account other dramatic changes in the Soviet posture, such as an increase in troop strength by one-third, a thickening of the combat echelons, a buildup in tank divisions and in mobile divisions, along with greater fire power. There had also been the most dramatic buildup in aircraft of modern times. The entire character of the Soviet Air Force had changed with respect to Western Europe during the period 1970 to 1978/79. It had gone from air defensive capabilities to long-range, dual-capable offensive capabilities. Manpower advantages had gone to a two-to-one ratio, the advantage in tanks to a three-to-one ratio. In the course of this, the number of nuclear warheads had increased six-to-one. All that had occurred simultaneously with the deployment of the SS–20s.

No objective observer could attribute SS–20 deployment to a reaction to Western modernization at a time when more than 1,000 warheads were withdrawn on our side. The Secretary was familiar with that withdrawal because he had fought that decision, but it was nevertheless carried out. It was important to get a clear picture on where we were with respect to SS–20s and how we got there, because only from that standpoint would it be possible to establish some basis for reductions which were in order. The Secretary had presented the above to be sure the record was clear in light of what Gromyko had said this morning, and so that the Soviet side would understand our concern.

The Secretary continued that, with respect to the question raised by Gromyko about SALT/START, we, too, had read all about that. It was true that we were not prepared, as we might have been in the [Page 455] absence of events, to move forward to discussing this subject now. Gromyko would know that we had worked intensively, as the Secretary had noted in September, to prepare our position. He hoped that we could initiate START negotiations at the earliest possible time. Those preparations were continuing, but at this time the Secretary was not prepared to engage in a substantive or procedural discussion, such as on the time of resuming these negotiations, and would not be prepared until the climate was right. When the climate was right, he knew that the President would make this very evident through diplomatic channels. The Secretary hoped that this would occur in the not too distant future.

Gromyko would know that, as the President said in November, the latter was anxious to resume the dialogue on this subject and was seeking substantial reductions in strategic arms. He thought that it was evident from the current INF discussions that there was a strong and clear interrelationship between the two topics, and that progress would be produced simultaneously with regard to INF, as well as strategic systems. The Secretary wanted to underline the relationship between the two. Therefore, we would always approach INF from the standpoint of negotiations on strategic systems, even though there would be different venues and different delegations. The Secretary had wanted to make this observation, as Gromyko had done with regard to the areas he wanted to discuss, because in his view it had been important for him to respond so that there be no question about the area of strategic arms. We were here to listen to each other, not to raise fences to communications on questions of major significance to our overall relationship.

Gromyko replied that he had little to add to what he had said this morning with regard to medium-range nuclear arms in Europe. He wanted to emphasize that, of course, he could not accept the statement that the SS–20 deployment was not caused by corresponding actions by the NATO bloc. It was precisely NATO activities—and NATO was constantly modernizing its corresponding nuclear arms—which had forced the Soviet Union to deploy the SS–20s, even though this had not resolved the problem by a long shot, that is, the problem caused by NATO in upsetting the balance of nuclear arms in Europe. Failure by the Secretary to recognize that the factors with respect to the Soviet Union were justified showed that the US position was not objective, and the Soviet Union could not accept the Secretary’s views of the US position or the Soviet position.

In trying to reverse the ratio between US and Soviet arms in Europe, the Secretary was ignoring one simple fact, namely that with respect to nuclear-capable aircraft, for example, the count proposed by NATO and US representatives involved understating the combat radius of US [Page 456] aircraft and artificially exaggerating the combat radius of Soviet aircraft. The Soviet Delegation had partly noted this already; it had cited specific types of aircraft, that is, aircraft with a range of “X”. The US side on the other hand, without offering any proof had contested this data, claiming that the range was “X plus Y”. The US side pretended that it knew more about Soviet systems than the Soviet side, and was engaging in this practice in order to fit the figures to its preconceived notion. The Soviet side had encountered this more than once, and the Soviet Union could not accept that kind of approach. The US side’s failure to accept Soviet data involved certain preconceived notions. This was being done artificially, intentionally. Gromyko did not want to attribute these actions to the Secretary personally, he did not know who was responsible, but he was asking the Secretary to sort out the figures objectively and if the Secretary did this he would see an entirely different picture. The force relationship cited by US representatives was incorrect, it was a total invention.

Of course, the Secretary could respond, “no, we are correct.” If the Secretary were to say that, Gromyko could not but express his regrets that the US position involved such an absence of seriousness. The question arises, what individuals, what organizations supply such data which are at odds with reality. For example, some Soviet aircraft which played no significant role in Europe and posed no threat in the European arena were claimed to be strategic.3 In this connection, Gromyko wanted to cite the example of Cuba where the US side was making absurd assertions about certain aircraft being nuclear-delivery vehicles, though in fact these aircraft are of no significance to the region involved. Nevertheless, the US was perceiving them as a threat. Gromyko had mentioned Cuba because the analogy could not be escaped. He did not wish to call this matter by its proper name, it was best to refrain from such words. There had been at least a minimum amount of objectivity during preparation of the SALT I and SALT II Agreements, and as a result we had moved forward. If that principle were not adhered to now, if it were crossed out, it would be very difficult to make any progress.

Gromyko, turning to strategic arms, said that he was very sorry to hear the Secretary say that he was unable at this time to talk about resumption of the strategic arms negotiations, to hear him say that this entire topic had to await a better climate, presumably not only in Soviet-US relations, but also internationally. This was a fallacious conception which did not promise anything good. The US will gain nothing from this. If the US regarded this as a way of applying pressure, Gromyko [Page 457] would point out that the Soviet Union did not recognize such pressure. This was contrary to conducting relations between states and such a tactic did not work when major powers were involved.

The Soviet Union, of course, would try to make it clear that it did not bear the responsibility for failure to resume strategic arms talks, for failure even to obtain clarity regarding the time for such a resumption. Gromyko thought that it would not be difficult to make this clear to the general public. After all, there can only be two alternatives: either one is in favor of such talks or one is opposed to them. The Soviet Union was very much in favor of them, while the US was opposed to them, was putting them off. That should be clear to anyone. As Gromyko had said earlier, he could only express regret concerning this position of the US Administration.

Southern Africa, Cuba and Nicaragua

Gromyko said that since the Secretary had already touched on the problem of Cuba, he, Gromyko, would expand on this matter by setting forth the Soviet Union’s standpoint regarding the complex of problems involving Cuba, Angola and Namibia. He wanted to express some considerations and present some Soviet views on how the US and USSR should act in order to facilitate and promote a resolution of this complex of problems. The Soviet Union had studied these matters in detail and had come to the conclusion that a comprehensive approach could facilitate a solution. The Soviet Union was convinced that this was a constructive and objective standpoint. At our New York meeting the Secretary had spoken very sharply on the question of Cuba.4 Subsequently, the US Administration and the Secretary himself had made very sharp statements, and more than once. The Soviet Union knew that the US was consciously exacerbating the situation with regard to Cuba. Gromyko did not mean to blame the Secretary personally, he was referring to the US Administration. But Cuba did not merit such treatment. Cuba is being painted as having incredible capabilities and as posing an unbelievable threat, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

In fact, the arms supplied by the Soviet Union in the past and at present were of infinitesimal quantities. They did not constitute a threat to the US and were not intended for that. Cuba, whether it had such arms or not, did not pose a threat now and had not posed a threat in the past. The US was trying to blame Cuba for situations in other Latin American countries, notably in El Salvador. Clearly, there was no justification for making such changes. But, the US evidently needed this to maintain the fires in Latin America. What was the reason for [Page 458] this? When Castro directly asked the US to furnish proof and facts in support of US allegations, the US did not cite any evidence, it did not even make an effort to cite such evidence. The reason was that there were no facts in support of US charges about Cuban complicity.

Gromyko continued that what he had said about Cuba also applied to Nicaragua. In New York, the Secretary had referred to his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Nicaragua. Gromyko had also spoken to him, and the Foreign Minister had given him an overall account of his meeting with the Secretary. Of course, Gromyko did not know whether he had been told everything or not. Incidentally, the Foreign Minister of Nicaragua had said that his country wanted good relations with the US. He had said this during a visit to Moscow several weeks ago. Cuba certainly did not pose a threat to El Salvador, and neither did Nicaragua. Yet the US side refers to such a threat here and elsewhere. Accordingly, the Soviet Union has concluded that the underlying reason was US dislike for the social system in Cuba. Gromyko recalled that he had told this to the Secretary during the New York meeting. But the Secretary should understand very well that the form of government should not be imposed on others. That was an internal matter, a result of social development.

At the last meeting, the Secretary had raised questions regarding Cuban activities in Ethiopia and Angola. It was true that there were Cuban troops in Angola. The Secretary had virtually claimed that the Cubans ran the show in Angola, he had for all intents and purposes suggested that through its military forces Cuba was calling the tune in some areas of Africa. But Gromyko knew the real intentions of the Cubans, and the Secretary would recognize that Gromyko was sure of his facts. Thus, Gromyko could say that neither now nor in the past had Cuba done anything evil in rendering aid to Ethiopia and Angola. Cuba was acting legally, consistent with the UN Charter and at the request of the Governments of Angola and Ethiopia. Accordingly, there were no grounds for reproaching Cuba for anything. After all, US troops were stationed in dozens and dozens of countries. And what about other Western countries? France has repeatedly introduced its forces into a number of countries, notably in Africa. Nor is Great Britain innocent, although at present its abilities have declined; history has played a role in this. Why was the US singling out Cuba? Could anyone really believe that Fidel Castro has decided to take over all of Africa. Gromyko was sure that the Secretary did not believe this.

Turning to Namibia, Gromyko said that this issue was in fact separate from the issue of Cuban forces in Angola and Ethiopia. Namibia should be granted independence in line with the UN resolution.5 [Page 459] With Washington’s blessings, South African troops were occupying Namibia. The “group of five,” which included US representatives, was operating under the wings of the South African occupation forces. Today South Africa had grabbed a piece of Namibian territory for a military base, probably with US agreement, though the Secretary should know this better than Gromyko. South Africa has carried out aggression against Angola, carried out bombing raids against that country, and at this very moment when we were talking, was maintaining several battalions of troops there.

Surely the Secretary could not believe that Angola had no right to ask for assistance to defend itself. Moveover, there was the question of Unita and all manner of other bands opposing the government. Naturally, the Secretary could say that such bands were an internal matter. Indeed, most of the personnel were Angolans, but a large part of the commanders were white mercenaries from other countries, including the US. They were operating with the tacit approval of their governments. Gromyko was not familiar with the number of these mercenaries or who they were, but the Soviet Union was studying the matter and would have an answer. Gromyko did not know the number of mercenaries in Savimbi’s6 bands, though the US could help with this information. But whether the US did or did not help, the Soviet Union would know the answer soon. One could not divorce Cuban activities in Southern Africa from what was being done there by the US and other states. In order to alter the situation it was necessary to cease assistance to Savimbi, to stop South Africa’s aggression against Angola and to permit Namibia to become a truly sovereign state.

Gromyko said he now wanted to formulate what he would call a constructive solution to this complex of problems. The Namibian issue was a separate one, but it so happened that it had become linked in time because South African aggression against Angola is related to South African aggression against Namibia. Gromyko wanted to present for the Secretary’s consideration a Cuban plan, which Gromyko was presenting with Cuba’s knowledge. To begin with, he wanted to outline the Soviet Union’s position on this question, after which he would address the outline of the Cuban plan. Inasmuch as this was a concentrated program, he wanted to dispense with a Russian language presentation and asked his interpreter to read from a prepared statement:

—First, settlement of the Namibian problem should be carried out in strict conformity with UN resolutions which provide for the granting to Namibia of full independence with the preservation of its territorial [Page 460] integrity, including the region of Walvis Bay. South African troops must be completely withdrawn from Namibia. Any international understanding on that question must be acceptable to the independent African states and SWAPO.7 The US, for its part, also should propose precisely such a solution of the Namibian problem. The Soviet Union, as a permanent member of the Security Council, also has in mind to play an active part in the Namibian settlement.

—Second, there must be an end to all aggressive activities by South Africa against the People’s Republic of Angola, whether directly or through support for Unita actions. The United States and other Western powers, along with South Africa, must cease all support for Unita and other anti-government groupings in Angola, whose hostile activities against the Angolan Government are directed from the outside, i.e., with regard to the territorial integrity and security of Angola, including its inalienable part, the Cabinda Province, must be secured.

—Third, the presence of Cuban forces in Angola and the question of their possible withdrawal therefrom is, of course, a bilateral matter between Cuba and Angola. The objective reasons why Cuban forces were sent to, and are in Angolan territory, involve the defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Angola against aggression by South Africa, as well as against the bandit formations of Unita, which are armed by and whose activity is directed from, the outside.

—Fourth. Therefore, withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola can be carried out when the threat to the security of the People’s Republic of Angola is removed and when the Government of Angola takes such a decision by virtue of its sovereignty.

—Fifth. As is known, as far back as April 1976 the Governments of Angola and Cuba agreed on a plan for the gradual withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola, and less than one year thereafter the numerical strength of the Cuban military contingent was reduced by more than one-third. But subsequently, at the request of the Angolan leadership, implementation of this plan was suspended in connection with the intensified aggressive activities of South African racists and mounting support by them and the US for formations hostile to the Government of the People’s Republic of Angola.

—Sixth, resolution of the Namibian problems along the lines described above, and a guaranteed cessation of all forms of aggressive activities against the People’s Republic of Angola, will enable the Governments of Angola and Cuba to return to the implementation of the previously agreed plan for the gradual withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola.

[Page 461]

Gromyko said that he had wanted to say all the above by way of summarizing the views of the Soviet Union. Cuba had also provided the Soviet Union with its own assessment of the situation. Gromyko wanted to inform the Secretary of this assessment and in order to save time asked his interpreter to read the Cuban text, which he then handed over (attached).8 In reply to the Secretary’s question, Gromyko answered that this text had not been released elsewhere, that it was prepared for the Secretary’s benefit. Gromyko wanted to add that the Soviet Union viewed this plan by way of a solution to the entire complex of problems which were linked in the US view, that is, regarding Cuba, Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Of course, in the Soviet view the relationship was different, but since there is a relationship in time, these issues could be grouped together. Gromyko had already emphasized that Namibia and Angola involved different questions, but South Africa, through its aggression, had tied everything into one knot. The Soviet Union saw a possibility for resolving these problems, provided the US approached them with understanding. Gromyko thought that this would also be useful from the standpoint of Soviet-US relations and that perhaps it would cast a ray of light on the overall international situation.

The Secretary responded that he had listened with great care. He had looked for and listened for the gleam of light of a possible solution within the dense jungle of propaganda statements. He wanted to deal with these statements first, and noted that he seemed to have discerned more of a glimmer of light in the Soviet articulation than in the Cuban one. With regard to Cuba, he wanted to remark sharply about Cuba’s inflation of tensions. As Gromyko knew, the Secretary had discussed this issue in Mexico with the Cuban Vice President9 and had further discussed it with him in New York in terms of future relations between the two countries. Asked by Gromyko when this discussion had taken place, the Secretary replied that it had occurred some three or four weeks ago. We were carefully assessing the most recent intelligence information regarding Soviet shipments to Cuba, which we did not regard as purely symbolic. We will make our decision on this in the days and weeks ahead. Even in the discussions with the Cuban Vice President it had been clear, and the latter admitted, that Cuba was sponsoring revolution in Colombia and that the Cuban presence in Nicaragua at this time was in excess of 4,000.

Gromyko interrupted that these were teachers and physicians.

[Page 462]

The Secretary noted that at least 1,500 of them were military personnel. There was one Cuban for every twenty Nicaraguan soldiers. These were not advisors, this was command and control.

Gromyko repeated that they were doctors.

The Secretary noted again that there were at least 1,500 military personnel. We were also well aware of the direction from Nicaragua of so-called guerrillas in El Salvador. We were listening to radio broadcasts and monitoring the shipment of arms by air. This week the Secretary had spoken to a Canadian journalist who had been invited to join the guerrilla groups in El Salvador in order to write a story supporting Nicaraguan forces. There was no question on this. We were listening daily and hourly to radio transmissions. The Secretary thought that it was essential to make note of the unsatisfactory character of these activities, which must be understood by all.

Secondly, the Secretary, too, like Gromyko, had spoken to the Nicaraguan Foreign Minister in Santa Lucia. Incidentally, the Secretary agreed that that regime wanted good relations with the US. It was very unpopular. Just last week there were riots during which Sandinista forces had fired tear gas. The level of dissatisfaction among the people of Nicaragua was growing daily because of its police state tactics, internment without due process, suspension of civil liberties, destruction of the private sector and militarization of the regime. The Foreign Minister had told the Secretary that there would be no delivery of MiG aircraft. We took this assurance very seriously and expected that it would be adhered to.

The Secretary recalled telling Gromyko in New York that the social systems of Nicaragua and Cuba were of no concern to the US. What is of concern to us, however, is the illegal infiltration elsewhere by both governments. Cuba, by its own admission, has been engaged in this over a long period of time, whereas Nicaragua has initiated this kind of activity against neighboring states more recently. The Secretary thought that Gromyko should be as impressed by this as we, because the concern with regard to Nicaragua was generating pressure towards concerted action which we would support if it develops.

The Secretary noted that we have not terminated all assistance to that regime, but we did not understand why it needed 200,000 troops. This was similar to Cuba, which had 50,000 troops in Africa and in the Middle East. We did not believe that this was conducive to international peace and stability, or consistent with UN norms. The Secretary wanted to repeat that the US was not threatening the character of the government of any state; that was up to the people of each country. But, if illegal means were used, as Nicaragua was doing today, then it does concern us, as it should concern the Soviet Union.

The Secretary wanted to say a word about Namibia. Gromyko had labeled his and the Cuban statements as constructive and had referred [Page 463] to US support for South Africa and Unita. The US is prohibited by law from supporting Unita and has not supported what Gromyko had called “bandits.” We have not supported it directly or indirectly, through arms supply or funds, since 1976. Prior to that, the history is clear. Unita had as much right to inherit power in Angola as did the MPLA. It was not a question of legality, but of de facto military support from the outside, including support by Cuba and the Soviet Union.

As for South Africa, both the Soviet Union and Cuba knew that US relations with South Africa were such as to encourage an opening of that society, of eliminating apartheid policies and of engaging South Africa in constructive actions in Southern Africa, including the independence of Namibia. Unlike the previous US Administration, the US had now ascertained that during the past three years the situation had deteriorated and the likelihood of Namibian independence was growing more distant every day. In good faith, therefore, we had tried a new approach, consistent with UN Resolution 435, in concert with the Contact Group,10 the Front Line States,11 SWAPO and the South African Government, in moving forward with a three-phased program. In six months we achieved more progress than in the previous four years of failed effort. This progress was becoming increasingly more clear because South Africa can never be forced to withdraw from Namibia in accordance with Resolution 435, unless its legitimate security concerns are taken into account by the Contact Group and the Front Line States. Sometimes conflicting evidence is heard here.

When South Africa moved into Angola, we were opposed to this action but did not condemn it because of Soviet involvement. Some Soviet personnel had been captured, others had been killed. There was physical proof in this regard, including documents, plans and statements by captured Soviet personnel indicating heavy Soviet involvement in overall SWAPO operations. The Secretary would ask if Gromyko could cite similar evidence regarding US involvement with Unita. If Gromyko could find such evidence, the Secretary would gladly consider it. We know of no such evidence because we do not provide any such support. The Soviet Union could not say the same about SWAPO.

Gromyko interjected that there was no point to this discussion. The Secretary underscored that what he had just said was fully documented—indeed, South Africa had obtained a great deal of evidence. Gromyko insisted that the Soviet Union was helping Angola, not [Page 464] SWAPO. The Secretary noted that among other things, Soviet advisors had been encountered with SWAPO forces and had admitted their presence there for two years.

Gromyko asked why the US was protecting South Africa. The Secretary cited the large amounts of Soviet weapons captured by South Africa, which went beyond token quantities and involved large caches, and noted that SWAPO personnel had been guarding these stocks.

The Secretary went on to say that he hoped to clear the air with regard to some of the rhetoric in order that Gromyko understand the picture we have with respect to the Soviet Union and Cuba on this problem. However, we wanted to find a solution to this problem. That was our goal, and it would improve our relations. Gromyko had referred to taking small steps on our way back to a more normal relationship. The Secretary thought that it would be a big step if we could achieve peace and stability in Southern Africa. We should disengage super-power competition from this area and let the people in the area find their own solutions. He hoped that the Soviet proposal would arrive at the same reality. However, the Secretary was fully confident that we will succeed with or without Soviet cooperation. We were substantially at the end of the first phase with the Front Line States. We have the agreement of South Africa to the constitutional framework and the enthusiastic support of the Contact Group.

In response to Gromyko’s question about the position of SWAPO, the Secretary replied that we have received their comments which, along with other comments from Namibia and the Front Line States, were basically very positive. The Secretary wanted to add that we had also been in touch with the Angolan Government, which clearly wants the Cuban troops to depart. Angola wanted peace and help from its neighbors. Gromyko questioned the Secretary’s information and asked who could stop Angola if that was its desire. The Secretary said that he was confident of what he was saying. Gromyko suggested that the Secretary read the Cuban position, which was a fresh presentation of its views.

The Secretary said that the real question involved development of simultaneous assurances with regard to Angolan borders and agreed international conditions for resolving the problem of minority rights in Angola. He was referring to tribal considerations, that is, Unita. He was confident that this was possible, if the sides were left to their own independent choice. With all the talk about South African withdrawal from Namibia and a separate Cuban withdrawal from Angola, he thought that these circumstances could be provided.

Gromyko responded that the Soviet Union was in favor of this, as was evident in the plan he had presented. What Gromyko had told the Secretary was true. The Secretary said that accordingly he was [Page 465] optimistic that we could solve the problem. Gromyko remarked that this was so if we worked in the same direction, that is, if South African aggression against Angola was stopped—aggression which was open, occurring daily for all the world to see—and if Namibia was granted independence. He wanted to emphasize that Namibia should be granted independence in line with the resolutions of the UN and without outside interference.

The Secretary remarked that he had spoken to Savimbi. Gromyko said that he was incredulous why the Secretary had received him, why he had deemed this to be appropriate after the discussions between Gromyko and the Secretary.

The Secretary replied that we had to know where Savimbi stood and what his position was in order to know whether our proposals were achievable. Savimbi clearly was not an ally of South Africa and was not receiving any support from South Africa. He was receiving support from other countries in the region, but not from South Africa or the US.

After again registering his disagreement with US recognition of Savimbi, Gromyko inquired about the process that was envisaged. The Secretary responded that the process involved understanding each other. We were not explicitly linking Cuban withdrawal from Angola with the independence of Namibia; the objective was an empirical outcome. It was necessary to provide for security guarantees for the Angolan Government, which would permit simultaneous withdrawals. The two were not linked, but were empirically related, along the lines of a phased withdrawal of Cuban forces, with physical guarantees for Angola, while Namibia would obtain real independence.

The Secretary added that there was a separate question involving Walvis Bay. This involved an independent history, was controversial since the very beginning, and was separate from all the other concerns.

Gromyko remarked that there should also be agreement with SWAPO.

The Secretary replied that this pertained to whomever was elected. We were not prepared to designate SWAPO as the government in advance. All sides involved thought that progress was being made. We were finishing the discussions with the Contact Group regarding the first phase and would be reporting about the constituent assembly. At present, work was beginning with regard to the modalities of the second phase. There was a small difference with regard to Resolution 435 and the South African attitude to the UN presence, but pressure was being exerted on South Africa and the Secretary thought that this matter could be resolved. At the same time, this question was being discussed with Angola. It was for this reason that we had talked to Savimbi, in order to learn his objectives. The Secretary believed that [Page 466] this was a manageable problem as far as the Angolan Government was concerned, perhaps with the use of some peacekeeping force from the African continent, that is through the OAS. We were continuing our work and the Secretary had apprised Gromyko of our progress. He thought that this would constitute a major assistance to our joint goal.

Gromyko replied that if all this were done more directly—and we had addressed this subject with Cuban consent—then the Soviet Union would go along. Of course, much would depend on the US position as well. The Secretary assured Gromyko that we were intent on resolving the problem, thereby letting the nations of Southern Africa determine their own future—keeping the super-power relationship out of Southern Africa. Otherwise, South Africa would commit further aggression and would do it successfully, going deeper and deeper into Angola. The Cuban forces would become more involved and both the Soviet Union and the US would become increasingly concerned. Gromyko responded that neither Cuba nor the Soviet Union wanted this.

The Secretary said that, Angola aside, the problem of Cuba had to be resolved quickly. Gromyko must be aware that this situation was serious and that the President would not stand by and let Castro disturb the peace in the Western Hemisphere.

Gromyko said that the Secretary was again returning to the same story. Nothing would shake the Soviet Union in its view that this campaign against Cuba was the result of falsifications and tendentious inventions. Why would Nicaragua, which was not yet standing firmly on its legs, be ramming an alien regime down the throat of others, against their will. This was the same story as with Cuba. The Cubans wanted to live in peace in their own house. Moreover, Cuba wanted good relations with the US, but the US was turning its back.

Gromyko asked whether, upon his return to Moscow, he could inform the Soviet leadership and President Brezhnev that the Secretary and Gromyko had concluded that the two sides could act in a common direction with respect to Cuba, Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Could he report that there was agreement between the two countries regarding the way to solve this problem, namely by ensuring the security of Angola and providing for the independence of Namibia. Could he also report that with regard to the question of Cuban forces, the possibility was crystallizing of Soviet-US cooperation in the solution of this question as well? The Secretary said that, on the basis of today’s exchange, he could make such a report.

Gromyko expressed the view that we should make use of this possibility, because this was a major issue which required a major effort. We ought to agree that in the event of slight hitches along the way, we would not act like young ladies of a certain age, who lose their temper and display impatience. We should remain calm and [Page 467] should persevere in working towards implementation of this plan and this objective. Gromyko thought that this would be beneficial to both countries and, generally speaking, for Africa and the world as well. He thought that we could end our discussion on this.

Chemical and Toxic Weapons

Gromyko said that he wanted to react to something the Secretary had said this morning.12 First, the Secretary had hinted at some instances of Soviet use of chemical and toxic weapons in Southeast Asia and Afghanistan. In this connection, he wanted to say that it was time to cease spreading false rumors containing allegations to the effect that the Soviet Union either had undertaken some steps involving the use of chemical or toxic weapons, or intended to do so. This was a fabrication from start to finish. It was an invention of Washington, though Gromyko did not know who was responsible for this. But then, the situation in Washington was so complex that it was difficult to sort things out. The Soviet Union has not used such weapons, and was categorically opposed to the use of these cursed weapons. There had been discussions regarding their total ban, but an accord was not concluded. What were the reasons? It was the Soviet Union’s impression that when the US had started this rumor involving the Soviet Union, it had concluded that it needed a cover for the production of its own chemical and toxic weapons. Gromyko did not know for how long the US would be able to maintain this position and keep this rumor going. No one in the world believed the US. In Washington people were trying to convince each other. Gromyko wanted to repeat that the Soviet Union resolutely condemns anyone who should use chemical or toxic weapons. We should sit down at a table and work out and sign an agreement on banning these weapons. It was the US position which was responsible for failure to complete this work. Gromyko was asking the Secretary to tell the President and the entire Cabinet that the Soviet Union did not use chemical or toxic weapons anywhere and did not intend to use them. The Soviet Union had no such intent and was opposed to any country having chemical or toxic weapons in their arsenals. The Soviet Union was for banning these weapons, for negotiating, concluding and signing an agreement to that effect. That was the Soviet position.

The Secretary said he wished to give Gromyko a prepared fact sheet on this subject.13 Surely Gromyko would understand that the Secretary would never make a public statement, as he had, if there had not been overwhelming evidence concerning the facts of the use [Page 468] of such weapons. We had films, first-hand reports, blood tests and chemical samples, and not just from government sources, but also from independent sources. It was perhaps conceivable that the regimes with which the USSR associated might have somehow developed this capability, but there was a very clear tie to Soviet advisors and Soviet military personnel. The Secretary wanted to hand over the fact sheet in order that Gromyko understand that we had facts and evidence.

Gromyko replied that as a sign of his indignation regarding this falsified information, he did not wish to take this document. He inquired whether this document had been released. The Secretary said that the fact sheet had been prepared for Gromyko and no one else. The Secretary went on to say that he wanted to reiterate that the information presented to him and to the President was absolutely multi-sourced, that it included films, laboratory tests and independent opinions, not just the opinions of government agencies. Clearly, there was a problem—a problem that would not go away.


Gromyko now wanted to turn to the matter of Poland. He had no intention of discussing the internal affairs of the Polish people with anyone. Other Soviet officials also had no such intention. However, he did want to say that the Soviet Union was resolutely opposed to interference in Poland and objected to the insinuations emanating from Washington and some other NATO capitals. What has not been attributed to the Soviet Union? Allegations were being made that Soviet troops were massing on the Polish border, that they were about to intervene, that the Soviet Union was already intervening. From time to time the Soviet Union denied these allegations, yet new versions of an alleged Soviet interference in the internal affairs of Poland surfaced again and again. The fact was that the Soviet Union had no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of Poland. Incidentally, the decree on the imposition of martial law was strictly constitutional, and both the Soviet Union and Poland had been saying that this was a national decision.

Had the Soviet Union been involved when Poland took the step, it would be impossible to conceal that from history. The Soviet Union as well as Poland had assured the US that the USSR was not involved in that decision. The question arose why was an effort made to accuse the Soviet Union? In the Soviet opinion—and the Secretary would probably not agree—the explanation was that Washington needed to accuse the Soviet Union in order to cover up longstanding US interference. The US was not alone, but the US was playing the first fiddle. Evidently, the US believed that an accusation against the Soviet Union would act as a shock absorber. Gromyko recognized that some Ameri[Page 469]cans fell for this line, but that was because most Americans read only US statements in US propaganda publications. The US was simply disregarding Soviet statements by failing to publish them. Gromyko said that this was not merely a reproach, but an accusation against the US Government. Gromyko did not need to apologize on behalf of the Soviet Union, because the latter was not interfering in the internal affairs of Poland. No one had the right to such interference, which was of a political and economic nature.

The new dance—sanctions—is again appearing. In Europe there were provocative radio stations which Gromyko occasionally had to listen to in the line of his duties, though he could not tolerate such broadcasts for very long. These stations were giving the Poles lessons on how to arrange their affairs. Thus, they were saying that the Poles should turn over one-third of the power to the Church, and another third to Solidarity, or rather the reactionary wing of Solidarity; better yet, they should turn over all power to the latter. Why should Washington be engaged in handing out power, why should it be saying who should receive power and who should lose it?

Did the U.S. expect the Soviet Union to interfere in a backward way to turn power over to the Church and Solidarity? That was absolute fantasy. The Poles should be permitted to live and make their own decisions. Of course, like decent people, the Soviet Union wanted to help. If the US wanted to render honest assistance it, too, could do so. The Soviet Union was providing much assistance; the US could do the same, but it acted otherwise, it chose to exacerbate the situation. Gromyko did not want to discuss Polish affairs, and he would not have addressed the matter if the Secretary had not touched on it. Though, come to think of it, perhaps he would in any case have said, “stop interfering in Polish affairs.”

The Secretary responded that he saw no useful purpose in debating the issues Gromyko had raised. It would serve a useful purpose if both of us recognized that the Polish situation had now become extremely dangerous for the world at large and for our future relationship. As categorically as Gromyko insisted that the Soviet Union was not involved, the Secretary also would insist that there was no US interference in Poland and that there could be no such interference.

The Secretary did know, however, that our own estimate of the situation was fairly accurate and he thought that it did not depart much from the Soviet estimate, namely that the situation in Poland was deteriorating. This should concern everyone. It was not a matter of meddling in the affairs of the Polish people, it was a matter of a threat to international peace. We had made very clear that we wanted to help. Last year we had provided more than one billion dollars by way of credits and food. The same was true of other Western European [Page 470] countries. Today Poland is drifting either toward total anarchy or toward violence.

We were convinced that the ultimate outcome must be a compromise. Something had to be said publicly on this score because this matter involved all the signatories of the Helsinki Accords which, in their essence, sanctified territorial integrity and noninterference, but also contained fundamental obligations with respect to human rights. The Secretary thought that Gromyko would understand why the strongest forces in the US and in Western Europe with respect to the Polish situation involved unions and working people. The Secretary had looked for some hopeful sign in Gromyko’s comments. Frankly, he had found only propaganda. He was not saying this to add still more propaganda to the discussion, but because this problem was pivotal for the world at large and for the US-Soviet relationship in particular.

We were not here to pressure or to preach, but we could suggest that there ought to be some formula that would be perceived by the world at large as suggesting a moderating approach in all of the following three areas: the release of prisoners, the lifting of martial law and the institution of a dialogue. The above suggestions came from Western Europe, and the US agreed with them. He would refer Gromyko to the statements made in a number of capitals—including Bonn—which mentioned these three conditions. It was the Secretary’s great concern, and it should be Gromyko’s concern too, that if this situation was permitted to drift, it would lead to deterioration in terms of the economy and in terms of law and order, and would heighten the strains. He thought that everyone understood the paramount need for safety valves to relieve the pressures generated by the situation in Poland.

Our standpoint was that the situation was extremely unsatisfactory, very dangerous, and concerned the entire world, not only Europe or the US, and could lead to a very dire outcome. The Secretary believed that it was in the interest of each of us to seek remedies which would bring Poland back on the road of economic and social recovery. The Secretary had listened carefully to Gromyko’s statement that this is what mattered for the Soviet Union. But history belied that. Previously in history the Soviet Union at times had acted in ways which we very much opposed. The Secretary thought that credible, demonstrable moderation was in everyone’s interest; he did not believe this would entail risks that were unacceptable to the Soviet Union.

Gromyko responded that the Secretary’s information was totally incorrect. The situation was improving and improving quite successfully. No one should hamper this process and the Secretary’s gloomy information was inaccurate.

[Page 471]


Gromyko wanted to turn to Asia, specifically Afghanistan. The Secretary would recall that during our New York discussion of the situation in and around Afghanistan mention had been made of a possible meeting between US and Soviet experts. The Soviet Union had mentioned this on several occasions, but the US was not interested and thus no meetings had been held. Gromyko was not saying this by way of a reproach, for it was the Secretary’s business how he intended to discuss this question and with whom. At this time, Gromyko wanted to repeat briefly the Soviet position in case the Secretary was unclear about any parts of it. The Soviet Union had come to Afghanistan to provide assistance against outside aggression. This outside aggression was being committed by individual bands, sometimes numbering ten individuals, sometimes a bit more. Of course, whoever is sending them in is trying to coordinate this activity, but bands are bands. They are engaged in terrorism and were killing peasants, teachers and even school children. They were not active everywhere, only in some provinces. It would seem that those governments which stood behind these bands should recognize that the situation in Afghanistan was irreversible, that the Afghanistan government was firmly in power and would remain so. This was a fact, whether anyone liked it or not. Blood was being spilled needlessly because these bands were treated as they deserved to be treated, that is, they were considered aggressors. Of course, whoever stood behind them did not care about the spilling of Afghan blood. The Soviet Union for its part was, of course, doing its duty and would continue to do so. Accordingly, it would seem that a solution was possible only in one way—by ceasing outside aggression. These bands had to be withdrawn or they had to lay down their arms. All power had to be held by the legal authorities.

Internationally, Afghanistan should have a nonaligned status and there ought to be no question on that score, whether on the US side or on the Soviet side. Let it remain nonaligned. If everyone was in favor of that and against spilling blood, against aggression, if everyone favored the independence and nonaligned status of Afghanistan, then this should be formalized. The Soviet Union and Afghanistan saw no other way to achieve this than to hold a meeting between the representatives of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a view to reaching an understanding on whatever matters were at issue.

The Soviet Union thought that Pakistan was uneasy about its border, for example, there was an area called Baluchistan. Gromyko had told the Secretary during their last meeting that a resolution of this matter was possible between the current Afghanistan government and Pakistan. Gromyko believed that this would provide certain benefits to Pakistan, because the latter was concerned about its borders. This [Page 472] would also be advantageous for Afghanistan, for it would end the shedding of blood. Let there be such a meeting. Why should that be unacceptable to Washington? Why did the US not say a good word in favor of this?

As for Pakistan, sometimes it seems to be in favor of such an approach, sometimes it seems to make an about-face, at other times it seems to lack interest. Sometimes the Pakistanis speak of bilateral discussions, sometimes they refuse to engage in discussions without the US friend Iran. But the situation with Iran was at a different level of development. It could participate in such a meeting when the time came, but at this time the main thing was a meeting between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Perhaps this could be accomplished with the assistance of the Secretary General of the UN or one of his deputies. It should not be impossible to organize such a meeting. What was diplomacy for? If diplomats could not find a way to set up such a meeting, they should be wrapped up in a package and sent into outer space, beyond our galaxy. Such a meeting could be of a formal or informal nature, it could be governmental or nongovernmental. But if this was done, and if the aggression ceased, then the Soviet troops would be withdrawn. The US did not like the presence of Soviet personnel in Afghanistan, but did the Secretary think that the Soviet Union was happy with this? Soviet forces would stay as long as they have to, they would carry out their duty, but would not stay any longer.

If the US was truly in favor of a relaxation of tension, it could use its influence with Pakistan with respect to such a meeting. If this were to occur, Gromyko thought that it would also reduce tensions between India and Pakistan. As for Soviet-Pakistani relations, the Soviet Union had no claims against Pakistan and did not need anything from Pakistan, all it wanted was to develop its relations with that country. Furthermore, this would also be beneficial for the general atmosphere of the entire area, an important area. This would be true not only from the standpoint of the countries in that area, but also, the Soviet Union believed, would serve the interests of the US and the USSR, as well as other states. This would act as a kind of fresh breath of air, Gromyko hesitated calling it a warm breath. He asked the Secretary to consider all of this. The Soviet Union had gained the impression that the US was not concerned very much about improving the situation. It would almost seem as if the US liked the presence of Soviet personnel there.

The Secretary said it seemed to him that something had been forgotten between September and now. We had discussed this matter actively in September and Ambassador Hartman had been instructed to discuss the question further in Moscow. But it seems that there was a serious difference on one of the three elements required for a solution. That was the obstacle. Gromyko would recall the Secretary saying in Septem[Page 473]ber that as soon as Soviet troops were withdrawn the present leadership would be finished within a matter of days. The elements discussed included guaranteed borders and a timetable for Soviet troop withdrawal. The third area we discussed was the formula regarding self-determination, that is, the matter of a leadership which could preside over national recovery. Historically, we had no direct and vital interest in Afghanistan, except for its nonaligned status, and Gromyko has said the same with respect to the Soviet Union. We had been comfortable with the many years of Afghanistan’s nonalignment. But the Secretary could not but fail to note Gromyko’s statement that the present government was irreversible. The present government would never be able to survive without a Soviet presence. Surely we could imagine a solution to this issue. The US had raised this question with Pakistan after September, but, like us, they view the Kabul regime as an inherent contradiction, which would collapse as soon as Soviet forces were withdrawn. Neither could we condone a circumvention of an accord. The Secretary added that we were not interested in seeing Soviet troops bogged down in Afghanistan. Gromyko remarked that he had said that jokingly, in view of US behavior.

The Secretary said that we had made a conscious effort to find a solution, but self-determination is an essential factor without which there could be no solution. He wanted to assure Gromyko that we were prepared to deal with this question constructively. We had our own views with regard to Pakistan. On all these questions Gromyko had really confirmed to the Secretary that if some of the fundamental questions were to be resolved, this would facilitate resolution of the specific problems. The US remained prepared to seek solutions to the fundamental questions.

Secretary Haig’s Summary and Bilateral Relations

The Secretary had to tell Gromyko that in whatever statement was subsequently made to the press, he would have to say that the Polish question was an overhanging cloud, that this cloud remained and inevitably affected everything we had spoken of. He would also have to say that objectively the reaction to Poland did not involve Poland alone. The Polish situation was seen in the context of Afghanistan, the Soviet arms buildup, as well as Soviet activities and perceptions thereof on the African continent. All of these things over the years made this problem qualitatively different, both in the US and in Europe. He thought that this made the situation of Poland a most serious issue. Therefore, it affected all other solutions and future developments to a greater extent than if this had been an independent problem.

The Secretary noted that we had not talked about bilateral relations. He was never satisfied with respect to matters of human rights. He [Page 474] would note that Jewish emigration had gone down from 50,000 to 10,000, that there were a number of unresolved family reunification cases involving about ten US citizens. A very unsatisfactory situation had developed in our Embassy in Moscow, which was now at a crisis stage, because it seemed that doctors would need to evacuate the people who are starving themselves.


Gromyko remarked that evidently the US position on Afghanistan had not improved, and the US contention that there should be interference in the internal affairs of that country—i.e., with respect to its leadership—was hopeless. Gromyko suggested that the Secretary once again weigh US policies and give some further thought to them. Perhaps he would reach more hopeful conclusions.

Near East

Gromyko wanted to say a few words about the Near East. Of course, the Secretary knew the Soviet position in that regard. The Soviet side was in favor of Israel vacating all Arab territories. The Soviet Union was also in favor of the independence of Israel and had said this many times as well, specifically to the Israeli Foreign Minister at the UNGA. The Soviet Union, like a mountain, defended the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including their right to the creation of an independent, albeit small, Palestinian state, headed by the PLO. The Soviet Union had resolutely denounced Camp David which had brought everything to an impasse. Gromyko recognized that the Secretary was trying to paint the prospects in brighter colors, but these prospects were not encouraging.

The developments in the Sinai involving the US and other countries, chiefly US allies, were not promising either. With time this would produce a hatred for everyone who brought military units to the Sinai. The Secretary could not be unaware that the Sinai deal was not the last such deal. This area must be genuinely liberated. A genuine solution, including the solution to the Sinai problem, was possible only through a radical resolution of the entire Middle East problem.

Gromyko wanted to ask why the US had found it necessary to conclude a strategic agreement with Israel. After all, Israel was a US military and political base anyway. Yet the US evidently wanted to demonstrate to the world and to the Arabs that Israel and the US were enemies of the Arabs, and to do so graphically. The Soviet Union viewed this as an anti-Soviet action.

In conclusion, he wanted to say that the situation had worsened since our last meeting, despite US efforts to sweeten the Middle East situation with sugar. The Soviet Union was in favor of solutions. The [Page 475] Soviet Union condemned most seriously Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. If the Secretary was planning to say that the US had been opposed to this, he should not depart with the impression that his argument had been convincing. Israel would not have taken this step without US participation. This annexation of foreign land is aggression, pure and simple. The only thing beyond it would have been open warfare. Thus, emotions were building and the situation was being exacerbated. There has been no explosion yet, but it could come any time. The Soviet Union was not in favor of exacerbating the situation. There was a time in the past when it seemed as if there might be some improvement, but then came “Mr.” Camp David and crushed everything.

Accordingly, the Soviet Union had a very negative view of the situation. The situation was complex and dangerous and required the attention of the US and the USSR. Gromyko would welcome it if we could find some joint language on this problem or aspects of this problem. The Soviet Union believed that all countries in this area should be permitted to develop under conditions of peace, and this included Israel. Of course, there were some extremist elements in the Arab World and if there were to appear a front aimed at the annihilation of Israel, the Soviet Union would resolutely oppose this. Yet, Israel did not even have a kind word for the Soviet Union.

Humanitarian Issues

Gromyko asked rhetorically what he could say about humanitarian issues. Was it the Soviet Union which had created these problems? Everyone had to honor the laws of their lands. Americans had to observe US laws, while Soviet citizens and everyone who was on Soviet territory had to respect Soviet laws. The Secretary had raised the question with regard to certain individuals who were Soviet citizens. They had to abide by Soviet laws. Here was a minor matter, but the Secretary may have heard, for example, about the case of the Polovchak boy.14 The issue arose when he was 12, though he was 14 now. He was not permitted to return to his family, he was forced to stay behind. Even when a US court had issued a favorable ruling, the US Secretary of Justice had said that court or no court, the boy would stay. Perhaps the Secretary was too close to the situation. Thus, he suggested that the Secretary take a look at the political clothing of the US. In any event, the matter of human rights was a question that could be discussed, but Washington abuses it.

[Page 476]


Gromyko said that it would be good if the current Madrid meeting could be brought to a close with some resolution on holding a conference about CBMs and disarmament issues. There was a draft text on the table, which had been proposed by the neutral countries. Even though in the Soviet view this draft required some modifications, the Soviet Union was prepared to discuss it and thought that such a discussion would be useful. Gromyko did not want to say anything about possible US efforts to complicate this meeting. The Soviet Union was opposed to such an approach. We ought to conclude this session on some positive note. That would be useful and would serve the interests of the USSR and the US, and would have a favorable impact upon the situation in Europe. Yet, the US was actively inflamming the situation. Thus, Gromyko suggested that the Secretary take a look at this question in terms of the forthcoming Madrid session. Perhaps, for a change, the meeting could end on a positive note. After all, the only thing involved is the forum for a follow-on meeting. The problems as such would be solved in the forum itself. He thought that we might talk briefly about the need for a future forum without getting into any details in Madrid.

The Secretary said that, considering the views he was hearing from Western Eruope, Madrid would inevitably develop into a platform for expressing concern over Poland. We had studied the draft mentioned by Gromyko and had found that the first part of it involved a major problem. The others seemed a good deal less troublesome. In any event, we had no fundamental problem with the CSCE process, which should continue.

Middle East

The Secretary said that with respect to the Middle East and value judgments about Camp David, we saw no viable alternative to keeping it in force. We had no other way to ensure Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai. We were continuing to seek solutions pursuant to Camp David because we could not permit ourselves the luxury of not trying. We condemned the Golan annexation, and since Israel did not act in accordance with Resolution 242,15 we look upon this as a non-event which was without standing. The situation was dangerous, especially if Israel should move into Lebanon to clean out the PLO. We have restrained them in the past, but if there should be a provocation before an Israeli pull-out from the Sinai, the Secretary thought that Israel might seize [Page 477] on this quickly, because there was a major proclivity to settle problems by force of arms. Thus, he considered the situation dangerous.

Press Contacts

Gromyko said that evidently there would be no joint statement regarding our meeting. Did the Secretary expect to make some statement? If so, in what form did he plan to describe or assess this meeting, that is, in what spirit did he plan to do so. The Secretary replied that clearly the Soviet side would be asked whether we had discussed Poland. Frankly, from the Secretary’s standpoint, Poland cast a shadow on our discussions. But he was not looking for a basis for further polemics.

Gromyko replied that it would be incredible if the Secretary or his Washington colleagues should refrain from polemics. The Secretary reminded Gromyko that the US had abided very carefully to the agreed line following the New York meeting. Gromyko agreed.

Gromyko suggested that we could now terminate our discussion. He thought that this meeting had been necessary and useful and remarked that we had exchanged views on many issues, all of which were important. This exchange was necessary and useful. At the beginning of his summary he would have to say, of course, that at a meeting such as this one a special place should have been assigned to strategic arms limitations, and that for reasons which the Soviet Union could not accept, the US side had found it impossible to discuss this subject even in terms of setting the date for resuming these negotiations. That left an imprint on our relations.

The Secretary noted that he had anticipated that Gromyko would deal with that subject and he was prepared to do the same. As for Gromyko’s summary sheet on INF questions, the Secretary thought that this should not be a topic for discussion with the press. But if Gromyko intended to discuss it, the Secretary wanted to know ahead of time, because he would have to do the same. Gromyko replied that at this time he had no intention of publicizing it. It would be a different matter if it became necessary to do so in the course of subsequent negotiations. He added that the Soviet delegation would table a corresponding proposal. The Secretary noted that he was pleased with the public relations in general, with respect to INF. He thought that if public relations dealt with the substance, this could be counterproductive.

Gromyko said that he would see how the Secretary and his representatives in Washington reacted to this meeting. Of course, if the need arose to make a special statement regarding our discussions, the Soviet side would certainly do so. Presumably the Secretary would act likewise. He could only say that he hardly expected the Secretary or his colleagues to refrain from making statements. The Secretary said that [Page 478] he expected to make a statement this evening; this was necessary. But generally he intended to follow the line just discussed. Gromyko remarked that the Secretary would be speaking on his own behalf and if his comments required a response, the Soviet side would provide one. If a response was not necessary, it would not be made. The Secretary noted that it had always been so.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Clark Files, Haig/Gromyko Meetings, 01/26/1982 2:00 PM. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place at the Soviet Mission to the U.N.
  2. See Document 137.
  3. Reference is to a dispute during the SALT II negotiations over whether the Soviet Tu–22M “Backfire” bomber could reach the continental United States.
  4. See Documents 90 and 91.
  5. Reference is to U.N. Resolution 435, passed on September 29, 1978, which called for the establishment of an independent Namibia.
  6. Reference to Jonas Savimbi, founder and leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
  7. Reference is to the South West African People’s Organization, the leading opposition movement to South African rule in Namibia.
  8. Attached but not printed is an undated paper entitled “Cuban Paper on Angola, Namibia and South Africa.”
  9. On November 23, 1981, Haig met with Cuban Vice President Carlos Rafael Rodriguez in Mexico City.
  10. Reference is to the Western Contact Group, comprised of Canada, France, West Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  11. Reference is to the Front Line States, comprised of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia.
  12. See Document 137.
  13. Document not found.
  14. Reference is to Walter Polovchak, who refused to emigrate back to Ukraine with his parents, and who was eventually granted asylum in the United States.
  15. Reference is to the November 1967 United Nations resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from territories occupied after the June 1967 war, in exchange for a cessation of Arab-Israel hostilities.