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

182686. Subject: Secretary’s Letter to Gromyko on UNGA Bilateral.

1. (Secret—Entire text.)

2. Following FYI is text of a letter the Secretary has asked Dobrynin to convey to Gromyko on his return to Moscow for consultations July 14:

Begin text

July 10, 1981

Dear Mr. Minister:

I am using the opportunity of Ambassador Dobrynin’s return to Moscow to convey some initial thoughts on our forthcoming meeting in New York. I can assure you that we attach the highest importance to this meeting and wish to ensure a positive and productive outcome.

As President Reagan has made clear in his communications with President Brezhnev, we want to establish a constructive and stable relationship with the Soviet Union. There is much we can and must do together to build a more peaceful world. Accepting that we will continue to compete, we also must recognize that unrestrained competition could lead to catastrophe.

Therefore I believe the fundamental purpose of our meeting in New York should be to reach a better understanding about the kind of restraint needed to prevent future crisis. We also should launch a process designed to resolve the specific current problems between us. [Page 220] Concrete, substantive resolution of these issues would go far toward laying a new and durable foundation for our relationship.

The most significant of these issues remains the question of Afghanistan. I feel it is important that we have a serious, non-polemical discussion. Our interest is to find a solution. Movement toward a political solution in Afghanistan could make a significant difference in our overall relationship.

I also want to explore with you how we might make progress on Kampuchea.

A broader question, one which has repeatedly raised regional and international tensions over the past decade, is that of Cuban adventurism in the developing world.

I will be prepared to discuss other questions involving critical countries and regions, and the need for each of us to make positive efforts. I do not expect that we will be able to reach definitive solutions during our meeting. But recognizing the fundamental and growing problem geopolitical issues have presented for the US-Soviet relationship for several decades, it is imperative that we achieve a better general understanding about the need for restraint. I believe we can make progress if both sides approach the meeting with a determination to avoid polemics and begin defining realistic solutions.

I propose that we make the question of negotiations on limiting long range theater nuclear forces the other main topic on our agenda.

I have conveyed through Ambassador Dobrynin our desire to begin negotiations before the end of the year.

Our goal in these negotiations is to reach agreement on equitable and verifiable limitations on the systems of both sides. Our objective is not superiority, but we cannot accept an outcome which perpetuates the existing imbalance. We are under no illusion that this will be an easy or simple negotiation. But we intend to spare no effort to bring about an agreement that enhances stability.

I look forward to discussing these issues with you further in New York. As you know, we have already begun concrete discussions with your Embassy here to lay the groundwork for our discussions. These will be continuing in the weeks ahead. We would hope that these preparatory talks will enable us to reach agreement in New York on detailed arrangements for the opening of negotiations before the end of this year. If so, I would propose that our agreement be reflected in a joint statement at the conclusion of our talks.

There are other areas of our relationship which can provide mutually advantageous opportunities for cooperation and understanding. In this regard, I will be prepared to review our continuing activities under the U.S.-Soviet exchange agreements and future prospects for [Page 221] such activities. I will also be prepared to describe in general terms our approach to East-West trade matters, and our views on the SALT process, in addition to the question of long range theater nuclear forces.

The agenda I have outlined above is an ambitious one. I would welcome your ideas on what might be discussed between us, as well as how we might best approach the issues either one of us would like to raise. I would propose, as well, that our meeting there involve two sessions, separated perhaps by two or three days. This would enable us to reflect on our initial talks and, if necessary, consult with our governments before continuing the discussions.

As I noted earlier, Mr. Minister, I look forward to our meeting as an important opportunity to deepen and expand the dialogue we have begun over the past six months. For our part, we will be prepared to do what we can to ensure a productive outcome. Sincerely, Alexander M. Haig, Jr. End text

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D810339–0244. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Stadis. Drafted by Parris and Palmer; cleared by Eagleburger and Scanlan; approved by Bremer.