74. Letter From Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko to Secretary of State Haig1

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I gave careful attention to your letter of July 10, 1981.2

First of all I would like to confirm that I accept your proposal regarding our meeting in New York in the initial period of the UN General Assembly session. I also agree that in that period we have not one, but two sessions with several days interval.

We take note that you attach the highest importance to the forthcoming meeting and wish to insure its positive and productive outcome. I can definitely say that it meets our intentions too.

Since that is the case and taking into account the fact that our first meeting with you will take place in the conditions of deteriorated [Page 222] international situation, in my view it would be right and natural to concentrate our attention on major issues on whose solution both the state of Soviet-American relations and the situation in the world as a whole depend.

In this connection I would like to recall what L.I. Brezhnev wrote to President R. Reagan: “We do not seek confrontation with the USA, we do not encroach upon legitimate interests of America, we want peace, cooperation, a feeling of mutual trust and goodwill between the USSR and the USA”.

This naturally presupposes that a similar approach is displayed on the US side as well. Otherwise the tensions in relations between our countries with all ensuing consequences will inevitably continue.

Guided by the desire to reverse the present dangerous tendency in world affairs, we propose to the US side to seek mutually acceptable solutions on a wide range of issues of common interest to the Soviet Union and the USA.

It would be, however, not a mere delusion but a serious mistake to believe that the Soviet side is more interested in the dialogue than the US and that by giving consent to the dialogue the US side nearly condescends to us. We are convinced that the United States of America, the American people objectively are no less interested than the USSR, the Soviet people in consideration and resolution of truly pressing problems, above all the problem of curbing the arms race, and lessening the danger of war.

That is why one cannot but express puzzlement over the fact that in your letter the problem of strategic arms limitation is mentioned only in passing, and not as a task of paramount importance which has a direct bearing on the destinies of our and not only our peoples.

What can be said in this regard? Certainly nobody will force the US administration, if it does not want it, to sit at the negotiating table to discuss this problem. But acting in this manner it should clearly realize that it takes on itself all the responsibility for the fact that it looks as if through its fingers at this cardinal problem now facing the mankind. Incidentally it relates also to many other important problems of arms limitation and disarmament which are not even mentioned in your letter and which it seems are not in the priorities of the US foreign policy at all.

At our meeting in New York we will of course be prepared to discuss the questions pertaining to the nuclear arms limitation in Europe, having in mind that under consideration will be the entire complex of medium range nuclear means including the relevant US forward based means as well as medium range nuclear means of the US NATO allies. Only such an approach will be in keeping with the [Page 223] principle of equality and equal security of the sides. The starting point for discussing all these questions should be the objective fact of the now existing rough parity in the respective means between NATO countries and the USSR. We are ready to seek, without altering this rough parity, to gradually reduce at the same time the level of armaments.

In your letter, Mr. Secretary, you stress the necessity to exercise “restraint” in international affairs. But frankly speaking this appeal to “restraint” that you make sounds unconvincingly against the background of what the USA itself does in the full view of the whole world: among other things, an unprecedented rise of military expenditure, programs for creating new destructive weapon systems, search for new military bases and strongholds all over the world, setting up forces specifically intended to interfere into the internal affairs of other states.

Hardly be called “restraint”, for example, is what the USA is doing now in the Indian Ocean, in the Persian Gulf, and in the Middle East. Meanwhile all these regions lie much closer to the USSR than to the USA.

And can we consider an exercise of “restraint” on the part of the USA such actions it takes as deliveries of arms to China or plans to redeploy the American troops stationed in the FRG closer to the borders of Socialist countries?

So as you can see we have enough to say on the subject of “restraint”.

We will also be prepared to exchange views on other subjects as well, including among them those which you name—Afghanistan and Kampuchea. Naturally, only the international aspects of these questions can be discussed, that is ways of resolving the situations existing around these states, and by no means their internal affairs.

At the same time I want to say at the very outset that we consider unacceptable—both in substance and in form—what is said in your letter with regard to Cuba and its policy.

It goes without saying that questions of bilateral relations, among them the state of affairs with the realization of agreements signed earlier between our countries, which you mention in your letter, will also be a subject of our exchange of views.

In conclusion I would like to express the hope that given the mutual desire of the sides the forthcoming meeting will permit at least to mark the beginning of a businesslike discussion of problems which indeed await their solution. We are in favour of it.


A. Gromyko3
  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records, Lot 96D262, Super Sensitive—July 1981. Secret. A typewritten note at the top of the letter reads: “Unofficial translation.” An unknown hand wrote at the top of the page: “Given to Ambassador Stoessel by Bessmertnykh, 7/21/81.”
  2. See Document 73.
  3. Printed from a copy bearing this typed signature.