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


  • George Shultz’s Luncheon Meeting with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin on November 23, 1982

In his first meeting with George Shultz since Andropov had been named General Secretary, Dobrynin cautiously explored the ground without making any fresh promises or commitments. His instructions seem to have been to learn at first hand how far the United States was prepared to translate its friendly gestures toward the post-Brezhnev leadership into specific concessions. His main points were:

—That it might be desirable for you to meet with Andropov. George’s response to this suggestion was cool.

—That no progress was being made in the Geneva arms talks and that the negotiations might better be moved to “higher levels” (summit?). George replied that we had excellent negotiators in Geneva.

—That we were violating SALT II with your MX decision and “planning something ‛deceptive’ regarding the ABM Treaty”, which George firmly refuted.

As had been their practice in the past, the Soviet side insists on excluding from discussion all regional areas of conflict between us (Poland, Afghanistan, Central America, Angola, etc.), in order to confine negotiations with us exclusively to bilateral issues, essentially arms control and summit conferences. In this respect, Andropov’s accession to power has made no perceptive difference as yet.

[Page 810]

Tab A

Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan 2


  • My Luncheon with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin November 23

As we agreed Tuesday morning,3 I told Ambassador Dobrynin that you are totally committed to maintaining US strength, but are no less serious in your willingness to work for a more constructive relationship with the Soviet Union. Ambassador Dobrynin replied that the Soviets also wanted a more constructive relationship and the question was how to bring this about.

This led to a discussion of the issues, places and people involved. The issues, I said, were on the agenda which Foreign Minister Gromyko and I identified in New York—arms control, regional issues (Afghanistan, Kampuchea, etc.) and what I called “Madrid” issues (CSCE and human rights). We reviewed the various settings for US-Soviet discussions: INF and START in Geneva, MBFR in Vienna, CSCE in Madrid and the experts’ talks on non-proliferation and Southern Africa currently being arranged. I noted that if we are serious about the effort to improve relations, he and I should meet more often. Equally, as it is important for the Soviet Government that Dobrynin get a “feel” for us in high level meetings, it is also important for the United States that Ambassador Hartman have the opportunity to get a “feel” for the Soviet leadership through regular access and exchanges. Dobrynin acknowledged this point. We discussed the possibility of my meeting with Gromyko this spring, but agreed that such a meeting would depend on the progress in our relations over the next several months.

Dobrynin raised the question of whether or not “our bosses” should meet. He explained that in his last years Brezhnev could give speeches and sign documents, but not negotiate. This, however, was not the case with Andropov. He asked if there were any point to a get-acquainted meeting with you. I replied that there is no point to a meeting for the sake of a meeting. What is needed is the prospect of forward movement on problems between us. I agreed to explore the issue but basically, adhered to our previous position on the summit question.

[Page 811]

I raised with Dobrynin the misrepresentation of what the Vice President told Andropov in Andropov’s account to the West Germans. Dobrynin said he was puzzled and could not understand what had happened, but I am sure he got the point.

There was a good deal of discussion about how to negotiate. In that context, Ambassador Dobrynin noted that the Soviets felt there had been no progress in Geneva. He said frankly that the Soviet negotiators there were totally bound by their instructions and without flexibility. He suggested that any progress on arms control would require a political impulse from higher levels. He seemed to imply that we might need another forum for the “real” negotiations. I replied that we have competent personnel in Geneva who are prepared to negotiate. It was agreed, however, that as the current round of negotiations was coming to an end, each side should review the bidding with its negotiators when they returned to their respective capitals.

Dobrynin complained that your M–X basing decision was a violation of the SALT II Treaty and also suggested that we were planning something “deceptive” regarding the ABM Treaty. I refuted Dobrynin’s allegations about SALT II and have instructed that we clarify and correct any misperceptions on the ABM issue. Dobrynin also asked where we planned to discuss the CBMs which you proposed. I noted that we considered Geneva the appropriate forum. He agreed that Geneva was appropriate for some of the measures but not for all, for example the hot line. We agreed to discuss the issue further at a later date.

We concluded that each of us would discuss the broader subject of improved relations within our governments in preparation for our next meeting. Ambassador Dobrynin conveyed the feeling that if there is some prospective movement, he was willing to do his best in support of it. On balance, I think the discussion reinforced the central message I gave on your behalf at the outset: we will remain strong, but are willing to work for more constructive relations.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Country File, USSR (11/16/1982–11/18/1982). Secret. Sent for information. Prepared by Pipes. Printed from an uninitialed copy. A stamped notation at the top of the memorandum reads: “The President has seen.” Reagan initialed the memorandum next to the date.
  2. Secret; Sensitive.
  3. November 23.