51. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State-Designate for European Affairs (Eagleburger) to Secretary of State Haig1


  • Apparent Official Approach to Charge Matlock by Soviets for establishing an Unofficial Channel to Us

Charge Jack Matlock called today from Moscow on the secure phone to report what appears to have been an official approach to him in Moscow May 10 at a small Soviet dinner party on the Soviet desire to establish an unofficial channel from us to them which would bypass Dobrynin. The approach was made by a man named Sitnikov, ostensibly an official of a Soviet agency which arranges foreign copyrights, [Page 134] but whom we have identified in the past as a KGB agent. Sitnikov told Matlock that the Soviets now are very eager to start talking to us about major issues and that everything is negotiable, including all of the items which we have considered major sticking points in the past in SALT negotiations. Sitnikov said that in order to make progress, however, it would be necessary to establish an unofficial channel because Dobrynin is so senior that everything he transmits goes straight to the Politburo which then settles into inflexible positions and it takes months to budge them.

The thrust of the approach was that this new channel would lead from us directly to Brezhnev via Arbatov2 or possibly Sitnikov.

Matlock said that the dinner party was set up openly and Soviet officialdom obviously knew he was there. For this and other reasons, he believes the approach is at least a legitimate probe. He is writing up a complete report of his meeting which we will receive tomorrow in a telegram classified NODIS ALPHA, STADIS, FOR SECRETARY HAIG AND ASSISTANT SECRETARY EAGLEBURGER ONLY.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records: Lawrence Eagleburger Files, Lot 84D204, USSR 1981. Secret; Sensitive. Not for the System. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads: “AMH.” Haig wrote in the upper right-hand corner: “Larry—see me.” Eagleburger lined through Haig’s note and wrote: “Done.”
  2. Haig underlined “via Arbatov.”
  3. Matlock reported on this conversation in telegram 6492 from Moscow, May 12. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N810004–0407)