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

228521. Subject: Secretary’s Letter to Gromyko.

1. (S—Entire text.)

2. You should seek an appointment ASAP to deliver the following message from the Secretary to Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko. If Gromyko is not available, you may deliver the message to First Deputy Foreign Minister Korniyenko.

3. Begin text. Dear Mr. Minister: We have given careful consideration to the views of your government concerning relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China as conveyed by Ambassador Dobrynin on June 172 and July 2.3 Although the position of the United States on the specific question of possible transfers of arms to the People’s Republic of China has previously been conveyed [Page 240] to you, I am writing in an effort to ensure that the Soviet Union has a full and accurate understanding of that position.

Despite the strains in relations between our two countries this administration has not characterized our relationship as one of “hostility.” It is, therefore, regrettable that you have chosen in your recent communications to characterize the development of our relationship with the People’s Republic of China as being motivated by hostile intent toward the Soviet Union. The policies which we follow toward the People’s Republic of China are developed in our respective national interests and are not specifically aimed at any third country.

At the same time, it must be pointed out that the United States would not accept an attempt by any third country to influence our bilateral relationship with this important country, or any other country. We are aware of no “assurances” by this or any previous United States administration by which the Soviet Union acquired a right of veto in this regard.

The development of relations in the security area between the United States and China is a normal part of the process of the broadening of contacts between our two countries. As China’s policies and practices are not threatening to the United States, nor to our friends and allies, it is no longer consistent with the present state of our relationship for the United States to treat China as an adversary. Indeed, as I stated on my recent Asian trip, the United States regards China as a friendly country with which we are not allied, but with which we share many common interests.

As for the question of potential arms transfers, since we have authorized as yet no specific sales to China, it is a misinterpretation of our position to speak of our having embarked upon a policy of “arming China.” Any request which we might receive from the Chinese will be carefully weighed on its merits, with due regard given to its appropriateness, the status of our bilateral relationship with the Chinese, the effects on others in the area, and our appreciation of the needs of international peace and security.

Thus, our decisions will not be made in a political or military vacuum. In this connection, we cannot help noting the fact that the Soviet Union, in formulating and carrying out its own policies, has persistently failed to take into account our frequently expressed concerns over the impact on U.S.-Soviet relations of Soviet actions in third areas, including Southwest Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

Let me assure you, Mr. Minister, that our purpose in improving relations with the People’s Republic of China is not to complicate relations with the Soviet Union. The United States remains interested [Page 241] in the improvement of U.S.-Soviet relations in all areas, based on the principles of reciprocity and restraint.

Sincerely, Alexander M. Haig, Jr. End text.

4. Afghanistan—Should Gromyko raise the latest DRA proposal, you should draw on the following points:

—It is the illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet troops that have caused the Afghan crisis.

—The Afghan proposal ignores UN resolutions which call for the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops and thus—point the way toward a settlement.

—We regret that the Soviet Union has not found these UN resolutions or the EC Conference proposal acceptable—they would help lead the crisis toward a political solution. The Afghan proposal clearly does not advance this purpose.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N810007–0481. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Rueckert; cleared by Stoessel, Eagleburger, Holdridge, Bremer, Simons, and Colson; approved by Haig.
  2. See Document 63.
  3. See Document 69.