9. Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan1

1. Response to Gromyko Letter: Ambassador Dobrynin came in this afternoon to deliver Gromyko’s reply to my January 23 letter.2 In his reply, Gromyko expressed his readiness to exchange views on high priority issues but complained that those I had raised—the hostages [Page 19] in Iran, Poland, and Afghanistan—did not fall within that category.3 On Iran, he justified the Soviet record by pointing to Moscow’s support for international law—for which, he complained, we had never said a “kind word.” His remarks on Poland were rather sharp. He accused the US and other Western powers of attempting to influence the Polish situation; he declared that VOA and other American radio broadcasts constituted open interference in Polish internal affairs; he implied that Western interference was not limited only to radio broadcasts. Gromyko’s remarks on Afghanistan followed the familiar Soviet line. The US, he said, could contribute to a political settlement by facilitating the opening of a dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Dobrynin was told that the letter would be studied and that I would confer with you before responding. Furthermore, he was told that events since the early ’70’s—in Africa, Cuba, Afghanistan—have caused great difficulties for us and that you were elected by the American people to speak out on these matters. It will be necessary for us to move toward greater reciprocity in our relations. I referred specifically to today’s disturbing news from Poland,4 mentioned your concern over developments, and reiterated that the situation must be worked out by the Polish people themselves. Dobrynin professed not to be aware of any late developments that should cause concern. (S)

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Soviet Union.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records, The Executive Secretariat’s Special Caption Documents, Lot 92D630, Evening Reading: Jan–June 1981. Secret.
  2. Haig’s message to Gromyko was sent on January 24; see Document 4. For a fuller account of the January 29 meeting between Haig and Dobrynin, see Document 12.
  3. See Document 11.
  4. In telegram 875 from Warsaw, January 29, Meehan reported that amidst ongoing strikes the Polish Council of Ministers issued a statement suggesting “emergency measures such as an attempt to ban strikes are being weighed.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D810043–1047) Documentation on the U.S. response to the crisis in Poland is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VII, Poland, 1977–1981.