161. Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan1


  • Extending Brezhnev an Invitation to Meet With You at the SSOD

Your public invitation to Brezhnev to meet with you during the UN Special Session on Disarmament next June2 raises the question of whether a more formal invitation should be extended through diplomatic channels. Moscow’s extremely cautious public and private response to your offer of a meeting suggests that the Soviets were caught off guard, and that it may be difficult to pin them down unless we extend Brezhnev a direct invitation. Putting your invitation in diplomatic channels would also underscore its seriousness and insulate us against possible Soviet efforts to question the sincerity of your offer.

At the same time, there are a number of good reasons why a formal letter from you to Brezhnev would not be the most effective means of extending the invitation. If, as seems likely, the fact of your letter to Brezhnev became public knowledge, it would inevitably complicate our efforts to manage domestic and allied expectations. Intense speculation about a possible meeting between you and Brezhnev might detract from our effort to keep the immediate focus on your trip to Europe and participation in the Versailles and Bonn Summits. A direct letter from you to Brezhnev might be viewed by the Soviets as an effort to humiliate him and take advantage of Soviet leadership uncertainties by personalizing an invitation that Brezhnev might find it physically difficult to accept.

We might minimize some of these disadvantages if I called in Dobrynin to underscore the seriousness of your invitation and put it on the diplomatic record more formally. The groundwork for such a meeting has already been laid in a recent conversation between Ambassador Hartman and Soviet First Deputy Foreign Minister Korniyenko.3 While extending the invitation on your behalf, I would reiterate for Dobrynin the distinction you have already made between the meeting you have proposed and a full-blown U.S.-Soviet Summit. I would [Page 531] also put Dobrynin on notice that our agenda for such a meeting could not be limited to arms control, and would cover the entire range of U.S.-Soviet issues, including Poland, Afghanistan, the Caribbean, and human rights. I could also suggest to Dobrynin that, should Brezhnev not be able to accept the invitation, an alternative would be another meeting between Gromyko and me. Finally, I would make clear to Dobrynin that we need an authoritative, if informal, Soviet response to your invitation in order to make the necessary preparations.


That you authorize me to call in Dobrynin to extend an invitation to Brezhnev on your behalf for a meeting during the upcoming UN Special Session on Disarmament.4

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Pipes Files, CHRON 04/14/1982–04/19/1982. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. Reagan made the invitation during an April 5 press briefing. See Public Papers: Reagan, 1982, vol. I, pp. 428–431.
  3. Hartman reported on this conversation in telegram 4240 from Moscow, April 8. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N820003–0294)
  4. No recommendation is recorded on the memorandum, but see Document 165.