188. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark) to President Reagan 1


  • Al Haig’s Meetings with Foreign Minister Gromyko June 18–19, 1982

Al held two drawn-out meetings with Gromyko: the one on June 18 (Tab A) was to concentrate on arms control, the one on June 19 (Tab B) was to deal with regional problems but because there was so little [Page 621] new to say on this subject, the second meeting, too, switched to arms control. (S)

In the first session, Gromyko restated old Soviet claims, insisting that when due allowance was made for their different enemies and allies, the two great powers had nuclear parity. As concerns concrete proposals he could think of nothing fresh to say and reiterated the need to revive the Vladivostok Accords and SALT II. He appeared particularly upset by your bold proposals for arms reductions which have helped defuse the global unilateral disarmament movement on which Moscow counts heavily to soften our determination to build up U.S. defenses. (S)

The second day’s discussions indicated little flexibility on Moscow’s part. Gromyko remained unyielding on Afghanistan though he agreed to uncommitting Embassy-level talks on this subject. He had nothing new to say on Central America and the Caribbean, or on the Middle East. Only in discussing Southern Africa did he hint at possible concessions in the sense that the Soviet Union might consider a Namibian settlement if there were ways of guaranteeing a Marxist-Leninist regime in Angola following the departure of Cuban troops. He was bitter over your “economic warfare” policies, including the expansion of the gas and oil sanctions. (S)

Gromyko pressed for a commitment on a summit which is important to certain factions in the Soviet leadership—those, like himself, grouped around Brezhnev—inasmuch as by meeting formally with the Soviet leader you help legitimize his status at home. (S)

In all, the meeting indicated no change in Soviet policy and no move toward serious negotiations and compromises. Gromyko’s evident anxiety and inflexibility reflect the disarray which the opening of the succession struggle and its recent military and psychological defeats have engendered in Moscow. The Kremlin is still on “hold”.(S)

[Page 622]

Tab A

Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan 2



This session lasted five hours, and we concentrated (by his choice as guest and thus first speaker in our UN Mission) on principles and on arms control. We will deal with critical regional security issues when we resume tomorrow; he told me he would start with the Middle East, and I told him I would start with Poland. It was a tough session, and I expect tomorrow’s exchange to be similarly rough.

Gromyko was clearly on the defensive, following your successful European trip, the unveiling of your program for arms control and your U.N. speech. He complained forcefully and at length that in fashioning our arms control proposals, we have ignored the long-standing Soviet insistence upon “equal security”. His presentation was one long protestation of Soviet innocence while blaming the U.S. for the deterioration of our relationship and international relations generally.

His detailed comments on arms control made clear again that when the Soviets talk about equal security they mean we must admit that an overall nuclear and conventional balance currently exists because they deserve special compensation for their geography and for our Allies’ military strength and systems. He pressed hard for the resuscitation of inadequate arms control agreements of the past, especially the Soviet 1974 Vladivostok accord and SALT II. He reiterated the Soviet nuclear non-first-use pledge he made at the U.N. on Tuesday.3

In response, I told him in no uncertain terms that strict equality is the only basis for agreements between us; that previous agreements were inadequate because they failed to limit the most destabilizing systems in both sides’ arsenals; and that reductions in these systems are the only good answer. I told him that the nuclear non-first-use pledge is entirely self-serving given the tremendous Soviet conventional advantage, and restated that in NATO Europe, the West would never be the first to initiate conflict at any level. It is the Soviet Union, [Page 623] I pointed out, that bears full responsibility for deterioration in relations because it has used and continues to use or help others to use force.

Overall, I came away from the session impressed with how worried and disturbed Gromyko was at the degree to which we have seized the high ground and the initiative in East-West relations. What worries the Soviets the most is your comprehensive program for arms control.

American newsmen tell us he is planning a major press conference for Monday4 (the day he was originally scheduled to depart for Moscow), and I expect him to make some of the same points he made yesterday, and in general, to try to regain some of the high ground for the Soviets through accusations that we have gone over to the offensive and are refusing to negotiate seriously and sincerely etc., in contrast to them. I therefore plan to meet with the press today, partly to draw some of his poison preemptively, mainly to maintain the offensive on arms control and East-West relations overall that you have seized.

Tab B

Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan 5


  • My Session with Gromyko, June 19

Today’s session lasted four and a third hours, and was devoted largely to regional issues as I had planned. And, as I expected, it was as rough as yesterday’s meeting.

We went over the whole gamut of U.S. regional concerns, from Poland to Kampuchea, and also discussed the Middle East at his initiative.

On Poland, Gromyko listened impassively while I stated our position on the problems and the prospects, and offered no indication of give. But he reacted bitterly to your decision to extend sanctions, as announced in the newspapers. He complained that it coincided with our meeting, claimed it represented economic warfare, and predicted it would spill over into political relations, since they cannot be separated. Agreeing with the last point, I explained that business-as-usual is [Page 624] impossible and that economic relations cannot improve so long as Soviet behavior in Poland, Afghanistan, etc., remains unchanged.

On Afghanistan, Gromyko gave no hint of a change in the Soviet position. As you and I agreed, however, I did suggest that Ambassador Hartman conduct intensified bilateral discussions in Moscow in July, and Gromyko agreed.

The exchange on Central America and the Caribbean was standard: I reiterated the dangers we see and the importance of the issue in our relationship, with particular reference to Soviet military shipments, while Gromyko insisted once again that we must settle with the locals, but that the Soviets will not stand in the way.

Southern Africa presented the one slight ray of hope in an otherwise somber meeting. Gromyko continued to hint that the Soviets would be willing to stand aside from a Namibia settlement which included a Cuban withdrawal from Angola. His major concern seemed to be the stability of the Angola Government and the threat from Savimbi. I told him that reconciliation among the factions in Angola is something the parties must work out themselves. The Soviets understand that we are working hard for a genuine settlement, and that they will bear the onus for failure if it fails.

On the Middle East, Gromyko repeated all the familiar Soviet claims and proposals about the area. They are obviously smarting from the beating their clients have taken. I made clear that we are working hard on the problem, and remain the only major power capable of moving the disputes of the area toward settlement. Gromyko did raise the possibility that the Soviets will call again for an international conference, and this is something we should be watching carefully in the days ahead.

Toward the end of the meeting Gromyko raised the possibility of a summit. I expressed regret that Brezhnev had not been able to attend the SSOD and meet with you, and explained that much would depend on future developments and the possibility of carefully prepared results. He did not seem entirely satisfied, concluding that we should let them know when we have chosen a date and place. For obvious political reasons, I think, the Soviets are anxious to have a summit as soon as possible.

Gromyko also returned to the question of respecting SALT II commitments, asking for more precise details about what you meant when you said we would not undercut existing agreements as long as they do not. I was deliberately vague in response, saying we are comfortable with existing policy, and any questions should be discussed by our negotiators in Geneva.

Finally, I made a pitch on humanitarian issues with special reference to Jewish emigration, citing your interest and pointing out that [Page 625] small gestures in this field can have a disproportionately large payoff in overall relations.

It was a wearing meeting, but useful, and not only in the sense that it registered the fact of superpower dialogue in tense times. It built on the momentum you have created in our favor in recent days and weeks by presenting a sensible, full-scale program for arms control negotiations and getting Allied support for it by making absolutely clear to the Soviets that our full agenda is intact, and that we will not be able to move forward on a broad front unless they are willing to take all our concerns into account—regional security, military security, human rights and other bilateral issues—and act on them.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Pipes Files, CHRON 06/17/1982–06/23/1982. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Drafted by Pipes. Printed from an uninitialed copy.
  2. Secret; Sensitive.
  3. June 15.
  4. June 21.
  5. Secret; Sensitive.