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


  • George Shultz’s Meeting with Ambassador Dobrynin on December 6

On December 6, Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin called on George Shultz to present a Soviet demarche on the means of “improving” U.S.-Soviet relations (Tab A). The demarche contained six points which can be conveniently summarized under two headings:

1. The Soviet Union would like to broaden the range of political relations between our countries by greatly expanding diplomatic contacts and maintaining continuous communications between Shultz and Gromyko either directly or through the respective embassies; however, they are in no hurry to arrange a summit.

2. In order for such a broadening of relations to occur the United States must take several concrete steps:

—eliminate polemical attacks on the Soviet Union such as charging it with the use of chemical weapons;

—stop meddling in internal Soviet affairs; and

—adopt a different position on arms negotiations.

What does this add up to? Moscow is willing to talk to us on a whole range of topics provided we stop accusing it of violating international agreements and criticizing its internal policies. We must also modify our negotiating positions in Geneva to show that we really have a “desire to reach an understanding”. With this demarche they are attempting to put us in a position of supplicant who must pay for the right to negotiate. The question is: What are they willing to pay for our consent?

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Tab A

Telegram From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan 2

SECTO 17002. Subject: U.S.-Soviet Dialogue: Dec 6 Dobrynin Demarche.

Memorandum for: The President

From: George P. Shultz

I met briefly with Soviet Amb Dobrynin this morning at his request to hear a demarche on the state of our “dialogue” and how it might be improved. Reading from a paper, Dobrynin made six points:

First, he said that as Andropov had told the Vice President in Moscow, the Soviets want to “rectify” the U.S.-Soviet relationship through talks on concrete topics and are ready to proceed if you are. But to move forward Dobrynin said we needed to “eliminate artificial irritants” like our comments on Soviet chemical weapons use. The Soviets, he added, do not want polemics per se, but as the “Pravda” response to your Nov 22 message made clear, they will not let attacks pass without answer.

Second, he said the Soviets think it is unproductive to measure the importance of the issues on the U.S.-Soviet agenda by “subjective notions,” especially when they pertain to internal jurisdiction. (Dobrynin later specified to one of my staff that this point “really” referred to emigration from the Soviet Union.)

Third, the Soviets favor exchanges of views and the search for concrete solutions, but he said they do not believe the results to date have been satisfactory, especially in arms control. Dobrynin said Moscow hoped your statement of readiness for better relations will be reflected in U.S. positions on the substance of negotiations, and that Moscow did not sense a desire to reach understanding in the unofficial exchanges we have had in Geneva and on the eve of the Madrid CSCE meeting. He added that the current recess in the Geneva talks offered an opportunity to think about the future of the negotiations.

Fourth, he said the Soviets were prepared for broader and more active contacts through the Embassies and between the Ministries of [Page 825] Foreign Affairs. He added that he was always ready for discussion with me, and there would be “no difficulties” for Ambassador Hartman to see Gromyko and First Deputy Korniyenko. He also proposed mutual visits and exchanges between the Ministries at other levels: Assistant Secretary, Deputy Assistant Secretary, chiefs of department or desk.

Fifth, he said that Gromyko was prepared to discuss any subject with me through the Ambassadors in the two capitals and personally, including the Geneva negotiations. Such exchanges have proved “good way to go” in the past, he observed. Dobrynin also said that Gromyko was ready to take a “positive” approach to the possibility of another meeting with me before the next UNGA session.

Sixth, on the possibility of a summit: Dobrynin said Soviet views are known and are similar to ours, i.e., that any such meeting must be carefully prepared. I replied that I regarded the message as significant; that I would bring it to your attention; and that I would respond in due course. The notion of enriching our dialogue is a good one, I said, and with respect to arms control, I concurred that the recess in the Geneva talks is perhaps a good time to evaluate what we have learned and where we should go from here. I said I was also glad to hear Gromyko’s statement of readiness to keep up contact with me either through our Ambassadors or personally, and I noted that our positions on a summit appear to be similar.

End of text.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Country File, USSR (12/3/82). Secret. Sent for information. Prepared by Pipes. Reagan initialed the top of the memorandum.
  2. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent Immediate for information to the Department of State and the Embassy in Moscow. Sent from Shultz’s aircraft. Reagan initialed the first page of the telegram. Shultz was en route to Europe to attend a NATO Ministerial meeting in Brussels, with stops beforehand in Bonn and afterwards in The Hague, Rome, Paris, Madrid, and London.