148. Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan1


  • My Meeting with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin March 3

I met with Dobrynin this morning2 and went over the points you approved for use with him last week. The main topic was Poland, and it struck the sour note in what Dobrynin called an otherwise positive presentation.

On Poland, I told Dobrynin we want fulfillment of the three conditions needed for the country’s stable development, as the only way to bring it out of its political and economic mess. He said he regretted hearing these “negative things,” since the Soviet assessment of the situation is “better.” He gave no signals that dramatic improvement is in the offing, but did suggest there may be some small steps coming up in the period ahead to show repression is easing. Prisoners will soon be released, he said; there will be no crackdown on the Church; there will be a trade union movement, although it would have to confine itself to work conditions. I said I regretted it was necessary for me to be so firm, but our assessment is that things will get worse unless concrete steps are taken to deal with the situation. Soviet statements are not of themselves adequate.

On Afghanistan and Southern Africa, Dobrynin challenged some of my individual points—self-determination in Afghanistan and simultaneity of Cuban departure from Angola and South African withdrawal from Namibia—but gave every evidence of wanting to pursue discussions.

Overall, Dobrynin’s response tends to confirm that the Soviets are getting the point that we are committed to constructive communication with them in several areas, but that Poland stands in the way.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: County File: USSR (03/03/1982–03/15/1982). Secret. An unknown hand wrote in the top right-hand corner: “Delivered via LDX (Clark) to Pres 3/5/82.” Reagan was at his ranch in California from March 4 to 8.
  2. No minutes of this conversation were found.