38. Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan1


  • Meeting with Dobrynin

I met again with Dobrynin Wednesday.2 We covered much of the same material as before although he made some interesting comments on arms control and on Cuba.

Poland: I told Dobrynin that the Poles were asking us for considerable economic help. This would be more difficult for us because the Soviets did not appear to be doing as much as they could on the economic front. Dobrynin agreed with my estimate that in the short term the situation there was perhaps somewhat improved although the longer-term outlook was more serious. Dobrynin repeated that if the Soviets felt they had to move into Poland, they would move.

Arms Control: In response to his question, I confirmed that we will put negotiations on European Theater Nuclear Forces ahead of renewed discussions on SALT, which was a complicated subject and needed considerable study. The Ambassador suggested we might seek to negotiate selective arms control measures instead of trying for a comprehensive SALT agreement. He referred specifically to the possibility of mutual agreements on submarine construction and missile modifica[Page 100]tions, holding that this “step-by-step” approach in specific functional areas might have a better chance of success. He repeated that the Soviets are not pressing for summitry but added that perhaps a functional arms control accord could be signed at a summit. I told him we would want to reflect carefully on what he had said but that progress even on selective arms control issues will be difficult without concrete evidence of Soviet worldwide restraint.

Middle East: Dobrynin again seemed anxious to reinsert the Soviet Union into the Middle East peace process, referring to the Carter Administration’s joint statement with the USSR of October 1977.3 He asserted that the PLO was ready to give the necessary assurances on Israel to join the process. But the PLO could not play that card at the start of the game without concrete assurances of an active role. I told Dobrynin that the Middle East was a particularly sensitive area where major progress seemed unlikely absent substantial changes in East-West relations, in Afghanistan and in the use of proxy forces. Dobrynin reiterated Soviet willingness to set a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Cuba: I reminded Dobrynin that we were determined to change Cuban behavior, in this hemisphere and elsewhere, and to work with others to change Libyan policies. Dobrynin again seemed unconcerned about Libya. (He called Qadhafi a “mad man”.)

With respect to Cuba, the Ambassador asserted this was a matter between Washington and Havana “and it should be kept that way.” He added that when US actions involved the US-Soviet understandings, it became an entirely different matter.

Arbatov Visa: I told Dobrynin that our intention in not extending Arbatov’s visa had nothing to do with what he had or had not done here but rather reflected the lack of reciprocity in our access to Soviet press.4 I noted that Soviet officials have appeared on US TV eleven times in this Administration while our Charge in Moscow has been repeatedly denied his request to appear on Soviet television.

Indian Nuclear Intentions: I gave Dobrynin a note5 urging the Soviets to restrain the Indians from conducting a nuclear test, stressing that we are working quietly to influence the Paks away from their nuclear [Page 101] program. If the Indians tested a nuclear device, it would make restraint more difficult for the Paks.

Pentecostalists: I noted that this seemed to me to be a needless irritant in our relations and suggested the issue should be resolved quickly if there was the necessary will by both parties to do so. Dobrynin seemed to agree. We will follow up on this.

I will want to discuss with you how we proceed with the Soviets on these and other issues when I return from my trip.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Pipes Files, CHRON 04/06/1981–04/08/1981. Secret; Sensitive. In an unsigned and undated covering memorandum to Reagan, Allen wrote: “Dobrynin strikes me as more amenable than in his previous conversation with the Secretary of State. His idea of approaching arms control agreements in a limited, ‛functional’ manner (not necessarily involving subs and missile modifications) may be worth exploring.”
  2. April 1. A memorandum of conversation for the meeting and the “non-paper” that Haig gave Dobrynin are in Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records, Lot 96D262, S/S Special Handling Restriction Memos, 1979–1983. According to the memorandum of conversation, drafted by Bremer, the meeting took place on April 2 in Haig’s office from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. According to telegram 85971/TOSEC 20042 to Haig en route to the Middle East, April 4, the meeting was held on the afternoon of April 1. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number])
  3. For the text of the U.S.-Soviet joint communiqué of October 1, 1977, see Department of State Bulletin, November 7, 1977, pp. 639–640.
  4. On April 1, 1981, the Department of State denied a visa extension to Arbatov, who had been invited to participate in a televised debate on U.S.-Soviet relations. (Bernard Gwertzman, “U.S. Denies Russian Extension of Visa,” New York Times, April 2, 1981, p. A13) See Document 32.
  5. Not found.