4. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

19053. Subject: Secretary’s Letter to Gromyko.

1. (Secret—Entire text).

2. Following message from the Secretary to Gromyko should be delivered to MFA ASAP: Begin text: Dear Mr. Minister: I would like to thank you for your message of congratulations on my appointment as Secretary of State. I can assure you that I share your hopes for strengthening the peace and that as Secretary I will work for the development of relations between our two countries on the basis of restraint and reciprocity.

If these goals are to be realized, I believe it is essential from the start that our two governments fully comprehend each other’s concerns and intentions. For this reason I would like in this initial correspondence to address two issues which I consider of immediate importance.

The first deeply affects American opinion and thus the entire climate of our relations. I refer to the treatment by the official Soviet media of events surrounding the release by Iran of the 52 American diplomatic personnel illegally held captive in Tehran for over a year. The attitude of the USSR throughout our efforts to deal with the hostage crisis has already contributed to strains in our relations. Continued distortion of the facts concerning the hostages and of our policy toward [Page 11] Iran can only raise further doubts in this country concerning Soviet intentions.

The second is a matter of utmost potential seriousness—the situation in Poland. I wish to make clear at the outset that there will be no change in the US position of noninterference in Poland’s internal affairs. We are prepared to do what we can to help Poland resolve its serious economic difficulties. And we are convinced that, if left to themselves, the Poles are fully capable of solving their problems themselves. Nor do I wish to leave any doubt as to the seriousness with which the US would view efforts by the Soviet Union to influence developments in Poland through military pressure or direct intervention. This administration fully supports the conclusions of the December 12 North Atlantic Council communique.2 Any intervention in Poland would fundamentally alter the entire international situation, and the US with its allies would be compelled to act in a manner which the gravity of the situation would require.

Mr. Minister, I cannot in this initial letter address all of the issues between us. At an appropriate time I would hope it would be possible to exchange views on a wider range of subjects, particularly the problem of Afghanistan, and the need for an early and complete Soviet withdrawal from that country. The points I have raised are those which I believe deserve immediate attention.

I would hope you would be prepared to address them in that spirit.

Sincerely, Alexander Haig. End text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Parris; cleared by Newsom, Vest, Ridgway, Wolfowitz, and Burt; approved by Bremer. On the same day, Haig informed Reagan that he had sent a letter to Gromyko “stating that I would work for development of US-Soviet relations on the basis of restraint and reciprocity,” and focusing “on the irresponsible Soviet treatment of the hostage situation and our concern over the Polish situation.” Haig also reported that “Gromyko is on vacation, but in receiving the letter Acting Foreign Minister Korniyenko expressed his ‛personal’ view to our Charge that it was unfortunate that the initial communication from the new Administration dealt with such issues.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records, The Executive Secretariat’s Special Caption Documents, Lot 92D630, Evening Reading: Jan–June 1981)
  2. The text of the December 12, 1980, Final Communiqué of the North Atlantic Council is printed in Department of State Bulletin, February 1981, pp. 50–52.