219. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Eagleburger) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • Your Second Meeting with Gromyko

Were I Gromyko, I would come away from the first meeting2 with the following impressions:

—The tone and substance of American concerns have not changed.

—Washington holds Moscow responsible for the sorry state of the relationship.

—Therefore, changes in American policy toward the USSR will not occur absent changes in Soviet behavior.

—The new Secretary of State professes an interest in making practical progress on specific questions.

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These are all essential messages. However, fundamental questions must still loom in Gromyko’s mind.

—If the USSR makes some moves—recognizing that anything more than modest moves are excluded because of the Soviet succession situation—what will the U.S. do?

—Will it show flexibility and “credit” the USSR for having taken constructive actions, or will it remain rigid and crow about Soviet “retreats” as a way of vindicating and reinforcing a tough line?

—Does the new Secretary’s concept of progress in certain areas involve movement by both sides?

Your aim now should be to help Gromyko answer these questions in a way that could lead to improvement in Soviet behavior. In developing an approach to the next meeting, you should have in mind some concept of what would constitute “improvement.”

I would distinguish five categories:

1. More cautious future international behavior—i.e., avoidance of new unhelpful actions.

2. Steps to ease one or more existing trouble spots.

3. Actions responsive to our concerns about human rights.

4. More forthcoming positions in arms control.

5. Willingness to discuss issues of common concern.

Bearing in mind the questions Gromyko may have about what we expect and what the Soviets would get out of being responsive to our concerns, you will want to:

—be quite concrete about what we would consider constructive;

—be as convincing as possible that we will respond positively (i.e., no crowing and where applicable, flexibility on our side);

—suggest practical next steps.

The following illustrates the approach I have in mind. It identifies what we would regard as constructive Soviet action in each of the five categories.

1. Refraining from shipping MiGs to Nicaragua. You have said this would be unacceptable. Gromyko wants to return to the subject of Central America. You should restate our warning. Obviously, we should not reward the Soviets in any way for avoiding a provocative act in an area of vital interest to us. That said, you may want to find an opportunity to assure Gromyko that we will not boast about Moscow having backed down.

2. Accepting Cuban withdrawal from Angola. You should press the point that the Soviets will not be able to escape responsibility for frustrating a Namibian settlement if an understanding on Cuban withdrawal cannot be reached. Moscow is unlikely to be helpful if they [Page 733] suspect the result will be American claims of a Soviet retreat. Indeed, you should say that we would depict it as a constructive step with positive effects on the relationship. What you should not offer is direct Soviet participation in the current diplomatic effort or in shaping the solution, UNTAG, etc. By way of follow-on, you should suggest that Hartman and Crocker meet soon with Kornyenko and Crocker’s counterpart.

3. Movement on dissidents. You will not want to get into specific personalities with Gromyko, but it’s worth reiterating that letting some people out would have a positive political effect and would not be exploited by us. Without implying a commitment (e.g., that agreement to a CDE would be the quid), you should also point out that the prospects for progress in the Madrid CSCE talks would climb if some people were let go. As you know, the Soviets have evinced interest in a meeting between Max Kampelman and his counterpart to discuss Madrid. I recommend that you tell Gromyko we would like to hold this meeting promptly and that we approach it hopefully.

4. Shifting to more forthcoming positions in arms control. You do not want the second meeting to dwell on arms control. If it does come up, however, there are two basic points worth making: (1) just as improved Soviet international conduct would improve the prospects for arms control, more forthcoming Soviet positions in arms control would be taken as a sign of Moscow’s desire for progress in the broader relationship; (2) the USSR will find the US flexible once Soviet positions reflect a genuine interest in significant, verifiable arms reductions. This second point is important because it could help dispel Soviet suspicions that we would simply “pocket” any moves on their part. Bearing in mind how hard it will be to get Washington to change US positions in START and INF, you should make this point more as a prediction—and personal view, if you will—than as an offer.

5. Agreeing to discussions on nuclear non-proliferation. In view of our clear and common—and, I might add, growing—concern about halting the spread of nuclear weapons, it is logical for us to suggest talks and for the Soviets to agree. Beyond the intrinsic value, the willingness and ability of the two sides to discuss this issue could have a modestly positive political effect on the relationship. There are pitfalls, of course; e.g., the Soviets could use such talks to lambast us on Israel and Pakistan. You should characterize them as “technical” and propose that the Soviets name someone to meet with Dick Kennedy. I think it best that we not publicize such talks—at least not yet.

Again, the basic concept is to zero in on particular possibilities and to convince Gromyko that the US will respond positively to constructive Soviet steps. You may want to be more selective; indeed, the more possibilities you identify the more it may seem to Gromyko that we [Page 734] insist that the Soviet overhaul their whole foreign policy before relations can improve. The counter argument is that the more ideas you lay out the higher the probability that Gromyko will find some bait that interests him. Of those that I’ve identified, Southern Africa and nonproliferation would seem to offer the best prospects for actual results; I recommend you cover at least these.

I have not mentioned Afghanistan. You should suggest that Hartman and Kornyenko have another round of talks; but there should be no connotation that the Soviets are doing us a favor by agreeing—so I wouldn’t cast it as an example of a positive Soviet action.

Let me suggest that you look at the attached matrix, which displays how to define and address each objective. If this framework appeals to you, we can tailor your opening statement and package your talking points accordingly.

Lawrence S. Eagleburger3
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Paper Prepared in the Department of State4

General Areas for Progress Specific Steps US Response Practical Next Steps
Avoiding new unhelpful actions. No MiGs to Nicaragua No crowing None
Easing existing trouble spots Acceptance of Cuban withdrawal from Angola Credit USSR for contributing to solution Hartman/Crocker-Kornyenko/Ilychev
Responding to our human rights concerns Releasing dissidents Credit USSR for steps in the right direction; possible CSCE movement Kampelman-Kovalev
More forthcoming positions in arms control Movement toward US reductions proposals in START and INF Will address Soviet concerns about US systems Geneva negotiations
Willingness to discuss common concerns Non-proliferation technical talks Serious exchanges Kennedy-Counterpart
  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records, The Executive Secretariat’s Special Caption Documents, Lot 92D630, Not for System—September 1982. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. See Document 217.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.