90. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Private Meeting Between Secretary Haig and Minister Gromyko
- Secretary of State A.M. Haig
- D. Arensburger, Interpreter
- Foreign Minister A.A. Gromyko
- V. Sukhodrev, Interpreter
Minister Gromyko suggested that we discuss further some major questions involving the relations between the two countries and the general international situation. We had devoted the major portion of our last meeting2 to this topic, but it was necessary to deal more thoroughly with some issues. Once again it might be advisable to pursue the discussion in terms of principle. Gromyko did not want to delve too deeply into the details. He thought that our interests would be met best by pursuing the discussion in terms of principle and by considering our mutual relations from the standpoint of how to approach them in principle. If Gromyko understood correctly, the Secretary, too, viewed our task along these same lines. Gromyko said that he would welcome Secretary Haig’s comments or, if the Secretary preferred, he, Gromyko, could initiate the discussion.
The Secretary replied that he just wanted to make the point that we should avoid getting into an overly detailed discussion and hoped that today we could speak about some broad geopolitical topics which had been touched upon at the last meeting. Perhaps this conversation would be more specific, but in general he did not want to make it too detailed. Perhaps such detail would be required on some arms control issues, but, again, he preferred to pursue the discussion in a general sense. Perhaps we could reserve the latter part of today’s discussion to a more detailed consideration of bilateral issues which, in a sense, were part of the larger group of questions to be discussed. The Secretary would be guided by Gromyko’s wishes in this regard. To begin with, he wanted to emphasize that on Friday3 he had discussed our last [Page 281] meeting in some detail with President Reagan. The Secretary wanted to stress that the President had been pleased by the serious, sober and business-like exchanges and was looking forward to the continuation of these discussions.
By way of a starting point, Gromyko wanted to say that in meetings between Soviet representatives and representatives of other states here in New York, the latter had almost without exception expressed a most positive reaction with respect to the understanding reached concerning the forthcoming Soviet-U.S. negotiations in Geneva. He assumed that the Secretary had encountered the same reaction. Gromyko viewed this reaction as appropriate and understood it. Moreover, he assumed that this feeling was characteristic not only for the delegates to the UN General Assembly, but was world-wide. This testified to the great importance attached throughout the world to mutual understanding between the USSR and U.S. on major policy problems. Gromyko assumed that he had drawn the correct conclusion.
Gromyko wished to go on to some questions on which he wanted to express his assessment and present his understanding in terms of Soviet-U.S. relations and in terms of the international situation in general. During our last meeting, while reaching agreement on the text of the joint document, the Soviet side had noted that the Secretary, and thus the U.S. Government, was not fully impressed by the principle of equality and equal security, a principle which, Gromyko wanted to emphasize, the Soviet side considered to be of great importance. The Secretary was aware, of course, that the Soviet side frequently emphasized the importance of this principle. In this connection, Gromyko wanted to pose a question: Why was it that in the past the Soviet Union and the U.S. had succeeded in achieving significant and important agreements? Gromyko noted that the Secretary was no stranger to the negotiations leading to those agreements; in a certain capacity he had something to do with them in a different administration.
Why, he repeated, were those agreements achieved? Because the Soviet Union and the U.S. proceeded from the premise that an indispensable element of our relationship was that it be conducted on the basis on the principle of equality. Conversely, if one of the sides, whether the U.S. or USSR, were to ignore this principle and were to try to impinge on the legitimate interests of the other side, that is, if it were to try to get ahead of the other side, to achieve a unilateral advantage, there could be no agreement.
Gromyko went on to say that the two sides had reached the aforementioned agreements and had successfully moved forward in their mutual relationship—and thus had contributed to an improved international situation—because they had respected this principle. Indeed, in order to erect the structure of our relationship, it was necessary to [Page 282] envisage a plan for that structure, and at that earlier time the USSR and the U.S. did have such a plan. Gromyko suggested that this was a case of architecture in politics. He was not trying to say by this that there would be no friction, no problems, in the course of negotiations. The Secretary would know very well that especially with respect to strategic arms there had been several concrete situations when it had been necessary, for example, to resolve a number of parameters regarding specific types of strategic systems as they applied to one of the sides. The Soviet side, too, had raised for consideration the matter of parameters involving specific types of strategic offensive arms.
Of course there had been arguments. It had been necessary to establish mutually acceptable equivalents applicable to different specific types. Efforts were made to find solutions—and they were found—in Moscow, if not in Moscow then in Geneva, if not in Geneva, then in Washington. This was done at the ministerial level and at the very highest level; at times differences were thrashed out by experts on the level of the Geneva Delegations and appropriate equivalents, acceptable to both sides, were found.
Gromyko said that to put it mildly the Soviet side reacted with concern—and he did not want to say more—to the cavalier attitude of the U.S. side to the principle of equality and equal security. This put the Soviet side very much—Gromyko repeated, very much—on its guard. Gromyko could not imagine how we could seek understandings if we were to knock the principle of equality and equal security from under our feet. The need for the principle of equality and equal security was crystal clear, especially in negotiations on strategic arms. In the future, as in the past, there could be arguments and differences of view, but, as in the past, we should discuss the issues, weigh them, call on science and technology, and find solutions that were mutually acceptable to both sides. Neither side could impose on the other what was unacceptable to it.
Gromyko went on to say that frequently one could read statements by U.S. officials—and Gromyko did not wish to cite names, since the Secretary was familiar with them—to the effect that the U.S. not only had to be a powerful nation, but that it had to be the most powerful nation. Sometimes this wording was modified slightly to the effect that the U.S. should not be weaker than any other nation, that is the Soviet Union, but basically the meaning was the same: militarily the U.S. was to be the most powerful country. This ran counter to the principle of equality and equal security.
Thus, Gromyko asked the Secretary to respond to the Soviet Union, to the Soviet Government, on the following question: Could the Soviet side expect that negotiations on strategic offensive arms and on those arms which were discussed at our last meeting would be pursued on [Page 283] the basis of the principle of equality and equal security, or did the U.S. intend to destroy this principle to smithereens. If the U.S. intention was to destroy this principle, even potentially destroy it, then the prospects were grim indeed and the Soviet authorities would be forced to explain the true situation to their own people and others. Gromyko hoped very much—he repeated that he hoped very much—that he would not be faced with such a situation.
The Secretary responded that in his view Gromyko’s comments provided a point of departure from which we must develop our understanding. A major problem with language involved rhetorical concepts because experience and perception affected them. For example, there was the concept of detente, mentioned by the Secretary last week. On the face of it, “equality” was not a difficult word. It could not be abandoned if there were to be constructive negotiations. The Secretary repeated that it could not be abandoned. It had to be the basis of negotiations. But in reflecting upon the early seventies when, for example, we were moving in the direction of SALT, the objective reality was that as these negotiations reached a high level of progress and intensified, we were feeling the consequences of maturing efforts in Soviet arms programs—strategic, medium-range and conventional. In a popular sense all of this tended to generate questions in the minds of the American people regarding the meaning of “equality,” as this word was used in our bilateral relationships, and many people express the view that “equality” was a formula for Soviet advantage. It was the Soviet practice that put the term in question. Therefore we had to be careful that in establishing a principle, we did not ignore events.
The Secretary could say categorically that from the U.S. standpoint he could not conceive of credible negotiations on arms or other geopolitical topics in which mutual advantage, balance and equality were not an essential objective. Thus, the Secretary had no problem with the principle. The problem lay with the application of the principle on the contemporary scene. As for the question raised by Gromyko regarding application of the principle, the Secretary would say that these were code words and words meant little; objective reality must determine their validity.
Gromyko replied that the answer was clear. He wanted to summarize his understanding of the Secretary’s reply. Although the Secretary had spoken of “equality” and had not used the term “principle of equality and equal security”—and of course equal security was the essence of the matter and thus inseparable from equality—the concept was acceptable to the U.S. As for its application, its implementation, in each individual case one had to find the relevant relationships, the relevant proportions between categories of weapons to be included in the negotiations and to be considered. This went without saying. He [Page 284] had tried to emphasize that the two sides would naturally encounter situations in which the search for genuine equality would require solutions of a kind that satisfied both sides in terms of figures and data. This had been true in the past, it would be true in the future.
Accordingly, Gromyko attached importance to what the Secretary had said about acceptability of the principle of equality and adherence to that principle. He thought that now we could look toward the future with greater confidence, especially with regard to negotiations about strategic systems—a subject on which we had not yet reached an understanding, that is on the timing of these discussions—and with regard to medium-range systems in Europe.
Gromyko wanted to touch on one particular aspect, especially taking into account the Secretary’s statement. The U.S. side was arguing rather emphatically that U.S. Forward Based Systems in Europe did not provide the U.S. with any advantage. In line with this reasoning the U.S. discussed individual problems as if this factor did not exist. The U.S. side saw only two sets of figures: Soviet and U.S. systems, Soviet and NATO systems. The U.S. was comparing only these two columns of figures. Of course, privately the U.S. could not but take this factor into account, but publicly and in discussions with the Soviet Union the U.S. ignored the fact that U.S. medium-range systems were deployed at sites from which they could reach targets in the Soviet Union, whereas Soviet medium-range systems were deployed at sites from which they could not reach targets on U.S. territory. This gave the U.S. a major advantage and was a factor that could not be ignored. Any knowledgeable individual, not necessarily someone dealing with strategic or medium-range systems, recognized its importance. Regardless of whether or not the Secretary agreed with this, Gromyko asked him not to demand a strict mathematical formula. Even if, by way of example, the Soviet Union were to have as many—and Gromyko could have equally well said three times as many or four times as many—nuclear weapons or medium-range systems as NATO, the U.S. advantage would still not be eliminated, precisely because the U.S. systems could reach Soviet territory, whereas not a single Soviet weapon could strike U.S. territory.
The Secretary interjected that a three-to-one ratio was more relevant.
Gromyko continued that in fact the Soviet Union did not have a two-to-one advantage. In reality, at present it was the U.S. which enjoyed a 50 percent advantage in the number of nuclear weapons. He had made these comments merely by way of illustration and because this was a problem the sides would encounter at the negotiations in Geneva. Gromyko did not wish to say more on the subject today. He had provided this illustration in order that the U.S. side not be surprised [Page 285] when the delegations began negotiations in Geneva. Of course, in discussing this subject the Soviet side would touch on the mathematics of it.
The Secretary wanted to say briefly that he did not anticipate negotiating here and did not wish to prejudge the negotiations concerning arms control. He wanted to emphasize that we were entering these talks with serious intentions and with a view to achieving effective and verifiable agreements. The Secretary would emphasize that we have moved into the so-called TNF or medium-range category within the SALT framework, because of the great complexities involved. In this connection the Secretary wanted to mention several principles in response to the issues Gromyko had just raised.
First, we viewed the vulnerability of our allies in the same category as vulnerability of the U.S. We were completely integrated in security terms. The Secretary wanted to emphasize again that we were approaching the subject within the SALT framework. Second, he had already told Gromyko with regard to medium-range systems in Europe that because of the mobility and range of the system at the center of initial concern they required, in our view, a global approach. Third, in the same spirit of preventing surprises, he wanted to say that if we were to focus initially on the complex issue of Forward Based Systems and corresponding Soviet systems—aircraft and SLBM delivery systems—we might find ourselves facing a confused and incomprehensible situation. Therefore, initially we should focus on medium-range land-based systems.
As we proceeded further and developed a more comprehensive and mutually acceptable concept, the Secretary was looking forward to an equal reduction of capabilities, hopefully at a low level. However, we were entering these negotiations without pre-conditions. In connection with Gromyko’s remarks about two-to-one or three-to-one, he wanted to emphasize that our calculations when the Secretary was with NATO were more like three-to-one and four-to-one in the Soviet favor on comparable systems. This was an issue to be resolved at the negotiating table with an exchange of data. The Secretary hoped to receive such data from the Soviet side, just as we intended to provide our data so as to eliminate a high level of confusion. The Secretary thought that it would be foolish to go much further today.
The Secretary wanted to take this opportunity to say a word or two in connection with SALT because this was intimately linked to what we were discussing. He wanted to outline our thinking on this score, as well as how we intended to approach this matter.
Gromyko noted that the Secretary had touched on SALT and the prospects for future talks on that question. In this connection, he wanted to pose a question: Did the U.S. Administration think that SALT II was [Page 286] finished?, that the Treaty was dead? The Soviet side did not think so. This Treaty had been worked out and negotiated to account for all the factors involved. The two sides had accomplished delicate work, and the Soviet side was convinced that there was no justification for the sides to abandon the results of that work and to regard the Treaty as having been buried.
In this connection, Gromyko had the following specific question: Sometime ago the Secretary’s predecessor, Secretary Muskie, had inquired whether the Soviet Union thought that while juridically the SALT II Treaty was not in force, the sides could in fact consider it to be in effect until they had reached some other understanding or agreement. In other words, could the two parties consider the obligations assumed by them to be in effect? Of course, at that time the Soviet side believed that the Treaty would be brought into force as soon as possible, and the U.S. had not said “yes” or “no” on that score. Thus, the Soviet side, for its part, had not provided a “yes” or “no” response.
Gromyko was raising the question of whether the current U.S. administration believed that the obligations assumed under the SALT II Treaty could be considered to be in effect. In the event that the Secretary provided a positive response, it would probably be appropriate for the sides to express such an understanding in some way. Perhaps this should be done through a joint statement or through separate synchronized statements; perhaps some other form could be found by mutual agreement between the two sides. Gromyko was thinking along the lines of an arrangement that would not prejudge the final outcome. He added that when he was speaking about the Treaty being actually in effect, he also meant to include the Protocol to the Treaty. Naturally, some wording might be required regarding modification of the timing in connection with certain measures covered by the Protocol. He repeated that naturally the Protocol should also be covered by an appropriate understanding.
The Secretary expressed the view that the answer to Gromyko’s more specific question, raised in the latter part of his comments, would have to be derived from a more fundamental assessment of the first part of his remarks, that is with regard to the status of the SALT II Treaty itself. Here the Secretary wanted to be frank. In the interests of our future dialogue he felt that he should speak frankly and bluntly. This was a requirement in terms of an underpinning for a dialogue on any subject. The simple fact was that unfortunately the SALT II Treaty had been in trouble almost from the day of its inception on substantive grounds, because it contained freeways of unlimited growth for certain systems.
The Secretary was saying this on the basis of his observation in his own country. In terms of the political overtones in the U.S., the [Page 287] SALT II Treaty was impaled on the rocks because of the perceptions in the U.S. of aggressive Soviet activities in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Secretary had told this to Gromyko last time. Thus, in principle the SALT II Treaty was on the rockpile of history, it was dead. There was no way in which a U.S. President could revive that agreement.
By this the Secretary did not mean to suggest for a moment that the preparatory work which had gone into the SALT II Treaty, and which had been carried out during the post-SALT I negotiations, should be discarded. This work provided an unprecedented amount of data and thinking of the two sides, which would be invaluable in the future. This was one of the causes of the delay in the U.S. We needed to find a new basis for a better solution of the SALT problem and we were working on it. We had been at it diligently for the past seven months. The Secretary believed that this work would be concluded in the not-too-distant-future, drawing heavily on what had occurred in the past and on political reality.
He did not want to suggest that SALT II was merely a victim of Afghanistan. This was not entirely true. There were a number of reservations of a substantive nature. The status, he thought, was clear: the U.S. would be guided by the SALT I negotiations and the Vladivostok Understanding, and by the spirit thereof, if it was not undercut by the Soviet side. It was in this context that the Secretary wanted to make some comments with respect to Gromyko’s suggestion. We had said unilaterally that we would be guided by Soviet actions. Overall we would be governed by what the Soviet side did, and the Secretary wanted to emphasize this. The Secretary had spoken about the essential importance of a balance, and this involved the SALT II arrangement, which was more dynamic with respect to the Soviet side than the U.S. side. The Secretary concluded by saying that perhaps he had not answered Gromyko’s question as precisely as the latter would have preferred. But the Secretary had spoken with the frankness that he considered necessary.
Gromyko remarked that, as he understood it, the Secretary was unable to give a positive response.
The Secretary said that in a sense there was a public commitment regarding the obligations of the SALT II Treaty. He believed that we would be well served to leave alone our public statements so far. That is, we would be guided by whether or not these obligations were undercut and by whether or not the overall balance remained intact. The Secretary thought that it might be desirable to articulate this matter more precisely at a later time, recognizing that the Soviet side was justified in wanting to know the U.S. position.
Gromyko remarked that of course this question had been raised by Washington quite some time ago. In a way, the Secretary had some[Page 288]thing to do with SALT at that time. Now Gromyko wanted to ask a specific question: When would Washington be ready to embark on the SALT problem? Gromyko hoped to hear at least a preliminary answer for planning purposes.
The Secretary responded that he anticipated with a fair degree of certainty that this would occur in the first part of next year. He did not anticipate a delay beyond that. On the outside, this could mean some six months, on the inside perhaps three months. He wanted to emphasize that the President had not had the chance to study the various alternatives being prepared.
Gromyko wanted to inform the Secretary that for all intents and purposes the Soviet Union was prepared to initiate discussions on this problem whenever the U.S. side was ready.
Gromyko said that in reading statements made by the highest U.S. officials, including the President, the Secretary, the Secretary of Defense and other high officials, as well as other statements in the press, one gathered the impression that a concept existed in the U.S. according to which the United States was prepared to consider and resolve outstanding problems with the Soviet Union—bilateral problems and international problems, including those we had discussed a moment ago—only if the Soviet Union renounced its foreign policy. Sometimes this concept was formulated differently: it was said that the Soviet Union should go back on its foreign policy aims, but in fact the point was that it should renounce its foreign policy.
Gromyko did not understand what was behind this. Was this an effort to influence the Soviet Union, to frighten it? To put it mildly, this would be so unrealistic that one could not be but amazed. Why was this concept being advanced? One would think that any expectation that the Soviet Union would renounce its foreign policy—and thus renounce itself—was totally hopeless. What would adherence to such a conception mean? In fact it would mean a dead end in terms of resolving all international issues. Never in the history of the world, never in the history of the Soviet Union, never in the history of the United States or in the history of U.S.-Soviet relations had there been a situation when one power told the other “renounce your foreign policy,” and when relations were conducted on that basis.
The fact was that the advancement of such a condition, above all to a major power, meant that solutions to problems became impossible. This was an utter dead end in terms of resolving international problems. Gromyko suggested that the Secretary imagine a situation in which the Soviet Union told the U.S. that before negotiations could begin on SALT, medium-range systems, the situation in various areas of the world or in Europe, or on bilateral issues, the U.S. first had to renounce its foreign policy, for example, that it had to remove its forces or [Page 289] military bases from Europe, that it had to close down its military bases along the perimeter of the Soviet Union, or withdraw its navy from the Mediterranean. The Secretary might mention that there was also a Soviet fleet in the Mediterranean, but the Soviet Union was not the first to send its fleet to that area—or withdraw U.S. forces from the Indian Ocean—the Secretary might say, of course, that there were Soviet forces in that area too, but the Soviet Union had previously said that it was prepared to withdraw its forces from that area. The U.S. would probably refuse to accept such a concept. To hook one problem to another, and then to a third and a fourth problem, and to tie them all up into one knot, each part to the other and everything to all else, constituted an utter dead end; things would become so hopeless that nothing could be resolved.
Gromyko went on to say that the very effect that such a concept was being raised . . . Gromyko did not complete the sentence, explaining that he did not wish to use strong words. It was thoughtless to use such a concept. Gromyko would think that the Secretary, in his capacity as Secretary of State, would recognize that such a concept was unrealistic and unfounded. Never in the history of the world have relations been conducted on such a basis, and they never would be. The U.S. was driving itself into a corner by advancing that concept. We would not be able to agree on anything if the U.S. were to insist on that concept.
On the other hand, if the U.S. were to insist on it, then it would be acting contrary to its own statements. The U.S. was correct not to adhere to that concept, but since this involved an inconsistency with its own statements, why advance that concept in the first place? Accordingly, Gromyko hoped that Washington would adopt a more realistic, more justified and more sober point of view. What he was saying was not some kind of new discovery. The necessity for a realistic basis was not something the Soviet Union was raising only now; this necessity has existed since the creation of the world.
Our common approach should involve solutions to the most pressing problems. As a general rule, solution of one problem helped resolve another problem, and so forth. That was the appropriate concept. It was for this reason that Gromyko had found it necessary to raise this matter with the Secretary. The entire Soviet leadership had wondered why this concept was being advanced ever more frequently in the U.S., and at very high levels at that. President Brezhnev personally had asked Gromyko to pose this question. Adherence to this concept was contrary to what the Secretary had spoken of today. Accordingly, Gromyko hoped to hear the Secretary’s comments on this matter. Perhaps the U.S. was attaching some significance to this in terms of propaganda, but there was hardly any political capital to be gained from this. Gromyko doubted it.[Page 290]
The Secretary replied that a good answer to Gromyko’s question required some detailed listing of issues. He had gone very carefully over our discussion last time and had been somewhat surprised—though perhaps he should not have been, given our global responsibilities—that generally both of us had touched on the same geopolitical issues: Poland, Kampuchea, Libya, Cuba, Southern Africa, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. We had touched on all of these last week. Of course, these issues did not constitute an all-inclusive listing, but it was interesting that we both saw the same set of concrete issues in a global sense. The Secretary wanted to touch on each of them in order to provide Gromyko with a sense of our principles and in conclusion he wanted to ask Gromyko a question.
The Secretary noted that it went without saying that Poland was of grave concern to the Soviet Union, the United States, to the West in general and, the Secretary believed, to all of Eastern Europe as well. We had reiterated, not only on behalf of the U.S. Government, but on behalf of our allies and the entire West, as well as Japan, that it should be made very clear that any external involvement in the internal affairs of the Polish people would lead to grave consequences in connection with everything we have spoken of, in connection with everything we hoped to achieve. He thought that restraint should be the dominant approach, and that the situation, as he saw it, had improved somewhat even now.
The Secretary said with regard to Kampuchea that the international community was opposed to what was occurring in that country. While recognizing that Moscow was not necessarily making Hanoi’s decisions, it also had to be recognized that Hanoi could not carry them out without the substantial support of the Soviet Union. Vietnam was now isolated in the world, its economy devastated, and this would continue in the future. The Secretary recommended that the Soviet Union urge Hanoi to participate in the international conference that had been called for, with a view to achieving a political solution.
The Secretary said that Libya was engaging in increasingly irresponsible actions that constituted a threat to world peace. He thought that Qadhafi had the resources to do what he was doing, but the Secretary also thought that Qadhafi could not do so without the logistical support of the Soviet Union. If Qadhafi continued these actions, international peace and Western interests would be jeopardized, and we would have to react. In the Secretary’s view, it would be most promising and helpful if the Soviet Union let Qadhafi know that he would be on his own if he continued on this risky path of international lawlessness.
The Secretary went on to say that Cuba posed the more difficult problem. Gromyko had said that the U.S. was reacting to the system [Page 291] which existed in Cuba. History belied that we were influenced by the Cuban system. The system was the business of the Cuban people. But since 1974 and 1975 Cuban activities have been increasingly irresponsible and unacceptable by all criteria of normal international behavior. No one in the U.S. accepted that the Soviet Union could not restrain Cuba. At our last meeting the Secretary had told Gromyko that arms shipments to Cuba had doubled compared to a year ago. Soviet assistance permitted projection of Cuban military power. The Soviet Union had recently provided it with modern frigates, extensive levels of armaments and long-range aircraft. All of this exceeded Cuba’s defensive needs and enabled it to maintain 40,000 combat troops for aggressive goals in Africa. It was stepping up to a high level its subversive activities in the Western hemisphere and was posing a major threat to the United States and other countries that shared our values in this hemisphere. As for the future, we would do what we had to. We were not able to overlook, to turn our heads away from, Cuban activities. The Secretary hoped that the Soviet Union would advise Havana that this was a dangerous course. Eventually we would have to deal with this. The Secretary remarked that his comments had been made in the spirit of frankness.
The Secretary also wanted to say a few words about Iran and Pakistan. The territorial integrity and independence of Iran was of basic importance to the U.S. and the entire West, and it was necessary that this reality be kept in mind in the future. We had a historic relationship with Pakistan, a relationship which advanced international peace and stability and which, the Secretary believed, was in the Soviet interest as well. In the area of nuclear weapons and in terms of political actions, the good relations between the U.S. and Pakistan helped shape a constructive path. We had no other interests with respect to Pakistan. We insisted that Pakistan be left alone.
The Secretary recalled another subject which we had discussed last week. In discussing Southern Africa, which was important at this time, he was aware of the question raised by Gromyko. The Secretary believed that the U.S. and USSR had a common goal. We wanted to see an independent Namibia as soon as possible, and Angola free of external threats or external intervention. The Secretary believed that South Africa should desist from certain actions in which it had engaged. The U.S., like the USSR, had no interest in becoming involved in Southern Africa. Clearly our differences pertained more to tactics than to long-range objectives. Gromyko had referred to Angola as a chicken-and-egg situation. South Africa, the egg, has reversed this, making it an egg-and-chicken situation. After several months of anguishing discussions with South Africa, the latter now accepted a compromise leading to early independence of Namibia, which would not require [Page 292] Angola or the international community to reverse the chicken-and-egg situation, but which involved a new concept. The compromise envisaged a simultaneous withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola and of South Africa from Namibia. This offered a major opportunity to the U.S. and USSR and was in the interest of world peace in an area in which neither of our countries had any interests. The U.S. was not opposed to the MPLA in Angola. The MPLA should on its own work towards reconciliation with the help of the OAU, on terms acceptable to the MPLA. Why, the Secretary asked rhetorically, should we not succeed in resolving a problem that had plagued the international community for so long?
The Secretary wanted to offer some considerations with respect to Afghanistan. He saw some convergence with respect to our objectives, as well as a difference in tactics and what Gromyko had called the current paradox. The Secretary believed that both sides would accept a non-aligned and secure Afghanistan. He thought that it was in the Soviet interest to find a formula for the withdrawal of Soviet forces, perhaps a phased withdrawal. Both sides were probably also seeking an Afghanistan which was on good terms with its neighbors. This had an implication with respect to the Moslem objection Gromyko had raised last time.
The U.S. side concluded that there were three areas of action which ought to be considered for the future, recognizing that this would require some time. He thought that it would be very helpful if the following ingredients were included: First, the Afghanistan Government should take steps now to broaden its base. Second, the Soviet Union could simultaneously study a formula for a phased withdrawal. Third, outside powers could take a number of steps, including those mentioned by Gromyko last time, regarding cross border activities from outside the borders of Afghanistan. He thought that implementation of all three steps in tandem could offer a solution. He also suggested that they be considered with more care.
The Secretary said that he had raised these regional issues in the context of Gromyko’s question. Our experience during the post-Vietnam and post-Watergate period indicated a need for more Soviet restraint and more reciprocity and, above all, for respect for what had been agreed in the early 1970s. That is, a side should not be perceived as gaining an advantage over the other. As for Gromyko’s and Brezhnev’s question, it involved the concept of linkage and the Secretary had to admit that he had spoken about it many times, as early as 1971. Linkage was a fact of life. Gromyko himself had touched on linkage when he had said that the perception of improvement in one area affected other areas. This is what linkage meant. In a recent speech the Secretary had said that to deny the concept of linkage meant to deny the right of [Page 293] challenging illegal actions.4 Perhaps this was a contentious way of putting it. No one was trying to revolutionize the Soviet Union. The Soviet system was the affair of the Soviet people.
The Secretary next wanted to deal with the matters of equality and mutual respect, which above all involved the engagement of resources. He was not talking about eliminating competition. That would be foolish and impractical. No one hoped for it or expected it. Afghanistan constituted an extremely important problem for the Soviet Union. A near-term solution in Southern Africa—and given good will such a solution was possible—would be a major contribution toward improving the international climate. Events such as Afghanistan were what SALT was impaled on. One could not deny the inter-relationship; one had to deal with it so as to improve East-West relations, because we had no desire for the current kind of situation. Gromyko also had some counsel regarding our participation. This is why communications were so important and why we had to speak frankly without fear of offending each other. The Secretary hoped that he had answered Gromyko’s question and apologized for having taken so much time to do it. He thought that each of these issues affected profoundly all of the questions.
Gromyko responded that the Secretary had evidently concluded from his analysis that it would not be advisable to tie all international problems into one knot. Thus, the Soviet Union should not be confronted with a demand that it renounce its policy as a precondition for negotiating and solving bilateral and international issues. Assuming this was the Secretary’s conclusion, this was precisely what Gromyko had hoped to hear. The Soviet Union has been insisting on this all along.
The Secretary interjected that public renunciation of Soviet policy never had been the official U.S. position. There never had been such a rigid precondition. One had to be careful not to take into account each distorted article or perverted statement of U.S. policy.
Gromyko said that he hoped never again to hear from Washington a demand that the Soviet Union renounce its policy or its approach by way of a precondition for solving any given problem.
Referring to the substantive part of the Secretary’s answer, Gromyko said that the Secretary had dealt with individual areas and with regional issues much more extensively than Gromyko. Thus he would have to do what he had already done at the UN General Assembly. He would start in the East and gradually move to the South and the [Page 294] West. Was it really possible that anyone had the intention of defending the Pol Pot regime and his hatchetmen who, with the lighthearted assistance of the American friend Peking, had thought nothing of putting at least one third of their people under ground.5 The time would come when history would express gratitude to Vietnam for saving the Kampuchean nation, for helping it to free itself from its executioners.6 Of course, there could be differences of view regarding some domestic activity or other, but that was the internal affair of the Kampuchean people. The fact was that Vietnam had saved a nation that had been on the verge of total annihilation.
Perhaps Vietnamese military assistance constituted a violation of some law, or of the UN Charter? The answer was “no.” Did not the U.S. provide assistance to other countries? As for Vietnam itself, it had entered the path of peaceful development, it was able to solve its own problems, and, in the Soviet view, quite successfully at that. Perhaps this was not to the liking of some of Vietnam’s neighbors. The Secretary was familiar with the act perpetrated by China several years ago against Vietnam.7 That was naked aggression. It was most unfortunate that one had not heard U.S. condemnation of Peking’s aggression against Vietnam. Yet, by all the canons that was aggression. The Secretary had said that Vietnam was isolating itself. Gromyko had not noticed that. Vietnam was pursuing a peaceful policy in its relations with its neighbors and had no aggressive plans or intentions. As for the ASEAN countries, Burma and others, they had no grounds for concern. As time went on, they would be convinced of Vietnam’s positive intentions toward them and that Vietnam was not scheming against them. Vietnam wanted good relations with these countries. Accordingly, the U.S. had no grounds for concern about future Vietnamese activities.
Turning to Pakistan, Gromyko said that as a matter of fact Soviet relations with Pakistan had not been bad. The USSR had even been providing assistance, for example in the construction of a petroleum facility. But Pakistan’s foreign policy was largely a puzzle. The puzzle was mainly why Pakistan did not wish to normalize its relations with Afghanistan. It was not so much the juridical position of Pakistan on improving its relations with Afghanistan, as the current behavior of Pakistan. The question arose whether the temptation of the Pakistani leadership to obtain U.S. arms might not be stronger than the desire for good relations with Afghanistan. In short, the Soviet Union believed [Page 295] that U.S. influence was strong and unfortunately it was not a positive influence.
Gromyko thought it would be better for Pakistan to resolve its differences with Afghanistan and to improve its relations with India and its other neighbors. Evidently, however, under U.S. influence Pakistan had no intention of moving in that direction. Perhaps the Secretary ought to give some thought to this matter. He might conclude that improved relations between Pakistan and its neighbors would not only serve the interests of Pakistan, but also the interests of the U.S. None of Pakistan’s neighbors wanted to be swallowed by Pakistan. The Soviet Union would object strongly. The present Pakistani leadership had an amazing talent for creating enemies along its own borders. As the Soviet Union understood it, this did not serve the interests of U.S. policy either.
Gromyko wanted to make a few comments about Afghanistan, since the Secretary had spoken about it at length today. Here was the U.S. Secretary of State sitting on a couch right next to Gromyko. The two were discussing major issues of Soviet-U.S. relations and of the international situation. The two men reflected the views of the highest authorities in the USSR and in the U.S. Gromyko wanted to say by this that they might well have the opportunity to find the key to resolving this situation. Perhaps they would be able to turn the key that opened the door. Of course, neither side could dictate to Pakistan or to Afghanistan, but why should these two countries, independently and separately from each other, not listen to, and heed friendly advice derived from good intentions, that is if such friendly advice could be found.
As Gromyko had said during our last conversation, we should act toward a cessation of external aggression against Afghanistan. Of course, that required some negotiations between the parties concerned. But since when was Zia ul Haq such a good democrat that he was unable to deal with the Afghan authorities? When did the U.S. transform him into such a good democrat? In any event, perhaps the possibility Gromyko had referred to did exist. This might produce a sigh of relief in Pakistan and would be helpful to the Government of Afghanistan, to the U.S. and to the Soviet Union. An end to outside intervention would suffice to reach agreement on the matter of emigration and would permit the solutions already mentioned by Gromyko to the Secretary. Gromyko wanted to emphasize again what he had said last time, namely that Afghanistan was offering assistance to returning emigres. He believed that in the event of such a development even the American friend Iran would be forced to accept the situation, whether de jure or de facto. Gromyko believed that this was worth trying.
He certainly was not begging the U.S. The Soviet Union did not find itself in water up to its ears. He already had occasion to tell the [Page 296] Secretary that the Soviet Union did not have an enemy in the military sense in Afghanistan. By the same token, he wanted to note that the internal, the social situation in Afghanistan, was irreversible. As he understood it, the USSR and the U.S. were in agreement on their desire for a non-aligned and sovereign Afghanistan. This was a situation akin to U.S. freeway interchanges. This was at the core of the solution of the Afghan situation. It was necessary to assess the situation, and to do so deliberately. Gromyko asked the Secretary to give further thought to this matter.
Gromyko next wanted to turn to Africa and say a few words about Angola and Cuba. The Soviet Union was surprised: how could the U.S. associate itself with the aggressor, in fact become an accomplice of South Africa, the aggressor? South Africa had attacked Angola in clear daylight; it was strangling the Namibians and had not been opposed strongly enough. Gromyko could not envisage greater indignation against racism than the feeling which Africans held for South Africa. Anything stronger could only be outright war. Even here, at the UN General Assembly, all the delegates were indignant.
As for the Angolans, they were acting peacefully and the Soviet Union was familiar with Angola’s intention; the USSR had good relations with Angola, in fact has a treaty with that country. Angola had no aggressive designs against its neighbors; it had repeatedly assured the Soviet Union of this. It did have difficulties with the UNITA bands and with Savimbi. Were it not for the interference of all these groups, the Cubans would disappear.
Unfortunately, U.S. policy hindered resolution of this problem. This was a problem which also ought to be considered carefully. Gromyko was not privy to U.S. plans regarding Angola, whether favorable or unfavorable. In his view, U.S. relations with Angola should be based on the recognition that there were no perfidious plans. Why did the Cubans come? They were asked to come, they did not force their presence on Angola. The U.S. disliked Cuba. Had there been no aggression against Angola, the Secretary’s statement would sound different. But this constituted assistance against external aggression. Emotions had no place there.
Finally, Gromyko wanted to comment on U.S.-Cuban relations. The Secretary had to such an extent tangled up his comments about Cuba, Africa and other matters, that Gromyko felt justified in expressing his views at this stage. The U.S. did not like the Cuban social system, it did not like Cuba’s socialist system. In this connection, he again wanted to draw the Secretary’s attention to what he, Gromyko, had said at the UN General Assembly. The Cuban Socialist system was an internal matter. The Secretary did not refer to Cuba except in a hostile tone. And yet the Secretary had also said that domestic affairs were domestic affairs.[Page 297]
The Secretary had called Cuba an aggressor. What country had Cuba taken over? The answer was “none.” Nor did Cuba have such intentions. The U.S. was accusing Cuba of supplying arms to several Latin American countries. The Soviet Union had become interested in this matter and whether the Secretary would believe it or not, this assertion was not true. Cuba was not supplying such arms. Gromyko suggested that it was up to the Secretary to determine the sources of his information. The U.S. was accusing Cuba of involvement in connection with El Salvador. But this was an artificial accusation, a contrived assertion. Gromyko could not say the same about the U.S. role in El Salvador. Sympathies and antipathies were irrelevant in this connection. Interference was something else again.
Was Cuba not offended by the fact that the U.S. had in effect imposed an economic blockade on it? Gromyko suggested that the Secretary try to picture himself in the Cuban position. Was the existence of a U.S. military base in Cuba, contrary to the wishes of the Cuban people, not deeply offensive to the Cubans?8 Gromyko did not know whether the Secretary was able mentally to place himself in the Cuban position. The Secretary would also recall that the Cubans had made a number of steps to meet the U.S. halfway, that they had gone far to accommodate the U.S. Admittedly this had occurred during the Administration of President Carter, but it was the same country regardless of whether the Carter Administration or the Reagan Administration was in office.
And in the final analysis, what kind of threat did Cuba pose to the U.S.? It posed no threat, and the U.S. knew this very well. Gromyko went on to say that Soviet-U.S. relations in the context of Cuba were clear. There existed an understanding on that score. So this problem was clear. Given the above, was it appropriate to unleash emotions about Cuba in such a sharp form? The Soviet Union did not think that this was appropriate. Gromyko suggested that the U.S. leave Cuba alone, that it let the Cubans live as they would, and that it permit Cuba to resolve its domestic problems as it saw fit. The USSR believed that such an approach would be a credit to U.S. foreign policy. At this point the U.S. had wound itself up about Cuba. What for? There was no reason for this in connection with Cuba. Gromyko also wanted to make some remarks about China, but first he would welcome any observations the Secretary might wish to offer.
The Secretary noted that clearly U.S. information about Cuba was at variance with what Cuba was telling the Soviet Union. We had absolute, categorical and irrefutable evidence about Cuban aggression [Page 298] in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where it was trying to change the status quo. The Secretary wanted to assure Gromyko that we would deal with matters of this nature. The Secretary regretted that Gromyko seemed to believe that events in this hemisphere required U.S. grace and acceptance. We would not and could not do so. The Secretary was raising all these issues in the context of what was under discussion.
He regretted Gromyko’s standard replies about Angola. Our allies and we will regret a lack of progress in this area. We believed that responsible cooperation could contribute to peace in Southern Africa. The U.S. was not looking for any advantages in Southern Africa. We had hoped, but had again been disappointed by what we thought was the outline of a broad principle. We had hoped for implementation of practical steps and would decry an absence of reciprocity or progress. The Secretary wished to emphasize most clearly that these actions were fundamental and that failure to implement them would complicate our relationship, which the Secretary would regret. He thought that a withdrawal was in the interests of a constructive relationship between the U.S. and USSR.
He sensed no feeling on Gromyko’s part that the latter wanted to cooperate with us with regard to a number of problems, and the Secretary regretted this. He was not begging Gromyko about Angola, this was not in our interest. But he had felt that it was in the interests of international stability and normalcy to be helpful. This was not a plaintive call, rather it was a constructive proposal for peace and stability. This was as true in this hemisphere as it was in Africa. The U.S. was prepared to cooperate with the Soviet Union on this problem, but Gromyko’s value judgments, to the effect that we did not know what we were saying and that we had an emotional fear of Cuba, were nonsense. China and Yugoslavia had systems with which we were not comfortable. The Secretary believed that international behavior involved a system of justice. He hoped that Gromyko could think over this matter more intensely and perhaps it would be possible to find a basis for coordinated action. Otherwise, the whole undertaking would become a farce. We could not approach mutual relations on a set of principles contrary to decency and law. There was no way in which we could do so.
Gromyko now wanted to turn to China. The Secretary was probably aware of Soviet-U.S. discussions of China at different levels. The Soviet side had touched on this matter at the highest levels, including the summit level. This was because for some years now there had been evidence of China and the U.S. drawing closer together. If this drawing together had involved a peace-loving state, then it would be an entirely different matter. The fact was, however, that China pursued a militaris[Page 299]tic policy, that it did not believe in peace and that it had a conception of war. Under these conditions the Soviet Union viewed all steps in the direction of a closer drawing together between the U.S. and China as hostile actions against the Soviet Union. Moreover, demonstrated hostility against the Soviet Union was involved. Statements were being openly made that the U.S. and China were in fact acting in a uniform direction even though they were not even allies. No secret was made of the fact that the idea behind all this was opposition to the Soviet Union.
How should the Soviet Union react in the face of all this? Clearly it had to draw the relevant conclusions. Gromyko regretted that the U.S. had embarked on this road. Having drawn the appropriate conclusion, the Soviet Union especially noted the drawing together between the U.S. and China in the military area. It has specifically noted the U.S. decision to supply weapons and military equipment to China. The Soviet Union could not but note this. The Secretary did not have to reply to the following question: Was Washington certain that Peking which today sang with a voice of a nightingale would in the future, behave like a nightingale? Did Washington anticipate any changes in this regard?
Gromyko wanted to point out in this connection that this question had a certain sharp edge in the historical perspective. The Secretary should not think that the Soviet Union was scared out of its wits. It was not scared, it simply viewed the problem in a more long-term perspective. Someone seriously contemplating war against the Soviet Union did not require a large amount of weapons, a high degree of adventurism would suffice. And that was China’s policy. The Soviet Union wanted better relations with China and regretted their absence. The Secretary should not think that the Soviet Union was automatically hostile to China. It wanted good relations, but not at U.S. expense.
Incidentally, in the past, when Soviet relations with China were good, there had not been even one instance when this was turned against the United States, there had not been even a single joint action against the United States. He suggested that this constituted food for thought, not only on the Soviet side, but also on the U.S. side. The Secretary would be utterly amazed if Gromyko were to tell him about some ideas previously advanced by China. He asked the Secretary to understand his comments correctly.
Following a five-minute break the Secretary said that he wanted to make some brief general observations about China and assured Gromyko that he was very familiar with the exchanges in Moscow on the subject. We were not conducting our affairs with China with the intention of affecting our relationship with the Soviet Union. The Secretary rejected the views on this score expressed by U.S. commentators. He wanted to assure Gromyko that this did not underlie our relation[Page 300]ship with China. We considered that our relationship with a billion of the world’s people was in the long-term interest of the U.S., both in a global and in a regional sense. There remained a number of controversial key issues, and we still had more differences with China than points of convergence. But we did not let this affect normalization.
As far as the military aspect was concerned, the Secretary noted that he had made his first visit to China before President Nixon’s trip.9 Proposals have been made for decades to rearm China, but we have not done so. This development was only in an evolutionary sense, and during the Secretary’s talks in Peking there was merely a change in terms of the category in which China was included with respect to U.S. foreign military sales. There had been no agreement to sell anything. We intended to look at this on a case-by-case basis.
The Secretary also had to add that China had full entry to the Western European arms market. He recalled that in 1975 and 1976 Chinese representatives went all over Western Europe, notably to France and Great Britain, but had not procured much. There were several reasons for this, one of them being their shortage of resources. As the Secretary saw it, under the current Chinese development program it continued to have a shortage of funds for weapons procurement. The Secretary understood the problem which the Soviet side saw with respect to Chinese military forces. He wanted to assure Gromyko that we would not take leave of our senses on the matter of the China problem. On the other hand, it was in our interests to maintain a good relationship, and from time to time to express concern about events which could have potential ramifications in terms of our interests and international peace.
In this context, the Secretary had to say that our policy would be influenced by whether or not actions corresponded to international behavior. The Secretary had wanted to say this because of the distinctly real possibility of a misreading of our relationship with China, especially in terms of arms. Our purposes were peaceful and constructive.
Gromyko responded that he had honestly presented the Soviet side’s views regarding its concern in the hope that the U.S. would understand the Soviet Union and would see the entire problem of the U.S.-Chinese relationship from the standpoint of the long-term historical perspective. This involved the fundamental interests of the Soviet Union and the United States in the world.[Page 301]
The Secretary said that he found Gromyko’s comments today about Cuba sterile and pro forma.
Gromyko responded that he could not believe a U.S. concern regarding the weapons which the Soviet Union supplied to Cuba. The concept of defensive weapons certainly existed and the weapons supplied by the Soviet Union were of a class that was defensive within the defensive category, nothing more. Gromyko could not seriously accept a U.S. concern regarding Soviet arms deliveries to Cuba. If the U.S. side had no other concerns, it had no concerns at all, it did not have a worry in the world. It was not Soviet arms in Cuba that were of interest to the U.S., it was Cuba itself.
There was a proverb regarding a needle in a haystack, but with present technology, one could even find a needle. The U.S. had frequently spoken about verification, especially in the context of SALT. It had voiced suspicions regarding various actions. Apropos of such suspicions, if a country were to force the path of engaging in such actions, it would have to recognize that at present no country could not but be compromised. What was occurring in the U.S. today was that Mr. X talked to Mr. Y and then Mr. Y spoke to Mr. X, after which both of them separately and together voiced their fears to Mr. Z. Gromyko wanted to express one more desire. The Secretary could take it into account or not, as he preferred, but Gromyko suggested that the U.S. give up on the contrived assertions regarding Cuban weapons. Somebody had stepped on the tail of a magpie and the latter mentioned something about Soviet scheming supposedly aimed against the U.S. What was the purpose of all this? Serious people could not take such contrived assertions seriously and repeat them. Gromyko thought that the matter did not deserve any further comment.
Gromyko also wanted to comment on one further question, though he had already touched on it in passing. Statements made in the U.S. frequently referred to U.S. vital interests. One could gain the impression that the U.S. was laying claim not only to every corner of the land mass of the globe, but also to the oceans. Wherever one looked, inevitably there seemed to be some U.S. national or vital interest. This pertained to the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, to Latin America; everywhere, with the possible exception of the Socialist states, there were vital U.S. interests. Gromyko asked rhetorically what would happen if the Soviet Union or any other major country were to make statements along these same lines. He repeated, what would happen then? What would happen if the vital interests of one nation were superimposed on the vital interests of another nation, and then on those of a third nation? This would be a dead-end street. This would be true even if just one or two states were to claim vital interests everywhere. No country, no side could make such claims, and no one could accept them.[Page 302]
But at present it appeared as if the U.S. was trying to stretch some kind of cover over the entire world, with the possible exception of the Socialist countries. Gromyko hoped that he had shown that no country, including the Soviet Union, could accept what was being said in Washington about U.S. vital interests. Gromyko wanted to give an illustration and asked the Secretary to understand him correctly. The U.S. had spoken about the importance it attached to the Persian Gulf region. The U.S. had a naval presence there because it perceived perfidious plans to interrupt the oil trade. This has been said repeatedly. Supposedly the USSR was prepared to jump on the Persian Gulf. Gromyko urged the Secretary not to believe tales about such a truly olympic jump. The Secretary, a statesman responsible for formulating policy, had to be above that sort of thing. If there was a jump, it was in the minds of those who spread such rumors. Such statements constituted a derivative from the overall global concept. The fact was that the Soviet Union had no such designs on the Persian Gulf.
Gromyko wanted to assure the Secretary—and Gromyko was authorized to give such an assurance—that no Soviet threat to the Persian Gulf or any other area of the world had existed in the past or existed at present. He went on to say that the U.S. should happily buy all the oil it wanted in the area. There was no point in saturating the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean with ships, aircraft and guns. The Soviet Union had no intention of encroaching upon anyone’s riches, and the U.S. should cast aside all fears of the Soviet Union. This was a contrived conception, one with huge and fearful horns that should be forgotten because it was nonexistent. The Secretary should cast it out of his mind.
Gromyko remarked that we had discussed a number of issues. From his standpoint today’s talk had been beneficial. He wanted to note that the Soviet side did not cast its words lightly to the winds. He had frankly expressed the views of the Soviet side in the hope that the Secretary, the President and the Administration as a whole, would take into account and weigh what had been said, hopefully drawing the appropriate conclusions. Gromyko had spoken frankly and appreciated the Secretary’s frankness. We ought to conduct our business in a serious way and not fall victim to emotions. The USSR and the U.S. lived in the same house, admittedly not a glass house, but one which was no longer as big or as invulnerable as it had seemed a hundred or two hundred years ago. The Soviet Union hoped that the U.S. was prepared to put Soviet-U.S. relations back on track.
The Secretary said that he was grateful to Gromyko for these observations. He wanted to remind the latter that the issue of Cuba and its arms was a central regional matter, it was not insignificant. The Secretary asked Gromyko to recognize this in assessing his comments. As [Page 303] for verification, it involved both reality and perceptions. We had obtained firm evidence from Southeast Asia, from Laos and Kampuchea. We were hoping for serious reply in connection with the event in Sverdlovsk in 1979, and with regard to the call for a meeting under Article V of the Convention on Biological Weapons. However, we have been faced by a stone wall; we had encountered negative responses.
The Secretary wanted to make some very brief comments on the Madrid CSCE Conference.10 It would terminate soon, it had to. We had advanced some confidence-building proposals and hoped that this matter could be resolved at the fall session. We hoped that we would be able to arrive at some arrangement for a continuation of discussion of Basket Three subjects after the Madrid Conference. This involved political reality in the U.S. Should there not be at least some progress on this score, the climate for improving relations between us would be complicated. This was important in terms of our ability to improve the dialogue.
The Secretary noted that as he understood it was traditional at such meetings as this to make special requests regarding certain individuals. The President had asked him to mention one particular case. As we understood it, Anatoliy Shcharanskiy was grievously ill and might die. The Secretary hoped that Soviet authorities might give this matter some important consideration. While the Secretary did not frequently make such requests, he also wanted to mention the names Skuodis, Stolar, Chmykhalov, Vashchenko and Sakharov. Shcharanskiy was a most critical issue in the U.S.11
Gromyko replied that although Shcharanskiy was known in the U.S., he was not known in the Soviet Union. This was a little man, a little criminal who was serving time. In the U.S. he was a political figure, in the Soviet Union he was a nobody. He was even a nobody in the criminal world. Gromyko wanted to state from the outset that Shcharanskiy was a criminal. Gromyko was not sure he had understood what the Secretary wanted with respect to Sakharov. Sakharov was an academician, known as a scientist. As for the other names, he did not recognize them.
The Secretary said that Ambassador Hartman would provide Gromyko’s representative with a list.[Page 304]
The Secretary added these cases were of very great significance to the President as a manifestation of an improved dialogue. On top of that, this was a matter of great interest to a number of Congressmen and Senators, especially the case of Shcharanskiy. Regarding Sakharov, there was widespread concern in the U.S. over his welfare, and we hoped that concern would be heeded.
Gromyko remarked that U.S. Congressmen would frequently visit the Soviet Union and then would gingerly reach into their pockets and pull out a list of two, five or ten names. Gromyko would promise to check, and in 90 percent of the cases, he learned that the petitions were without foundation. The individuals concerned had never filed any applications to leave, have never indicated any desire to leave, in fact, had married and were living quite happily. Thus, Gromyko could do nothing and had to explain honestly the real situation. In short, as he understood it, the Secretary was hoping for these “Soviet exports.” Told by the Secretary that Chmykhalov and Vashchenko involved individuals at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Gromyko said that he had heard about this case and thought that the Embassy should release these individuals. The U.S. Embassy was involved in blackmail. Gromyko assumed that these individuals had already consumed all the bread and all the nuts at the Embassy. Gromyko added that the matter could be considered once the individuals left the Embassy. He thought that the Secretary should give some good advice to the Embassy, namely, put the prestige of the U.S. above the prestige of the Embassy.
The Secretary remarked that this was like the chicken-and-egg situation, and hoped the Soviet side would reconsider its position.
The Secretary expressed the view that our discussions had been helpful and trusted that Gromyko shared this assessment. He was wondering whether it might be useful to hold a further meeting shortly after the beginning of the New Year. If Gromyko agreed, he was willing to meet in Vienna on a date to be agreed. Gromyko inquired whether the Secretary meant Vienna or Geneva. The Secretary said that he would be happy to meet in either city. Gromyko called the proposal acceptable. The Secretary inquired which city Gromyko preferred. Gromyko suggested that Geneva might be preferable since it had been the site of such meetings more frequently. The Secretary agreed to hold the meeting in Geneva.
At this point the members of the two delegations joined the meeting.
- Source: Reagan Library, Clark Files, Haig/Gromyko Meetings 9/23/81 and 9/28/81. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place at the Soviet Mission to the United Nations.↩
- See Documents 88 and 89.↩
- September 25. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Haig spoke to Reagan on the telephone from 5:15 to 5:23 p.m. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) No memorandum for the record was found.↩
- A possible reference to Haig’s speech before the American Bar Association in New Orleans on August 11: “Linkage is not a theory; it is a fact of life that we overlook at our peril.” (Department of State Bulletin, September 1981, pp. 10–13)↩
- Reference is to the genocide of the Cambodian people by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.↩
- On December 25, 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia.↩
- Chinese troops invaded Vietnam in February 1979 and withdrew the following month.↩
- A reference to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay.↩
- In January 1972, Haig traveled to Beijing to meet with Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-lai in advance of Nixon’s visit the following month. For the memorandum of this conversation as well as Haig’s report back to Kissinger, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XVII, China, 1969–1972, Documents 183 and 184.↩
- Reference is to the Second Follow-up Meeting to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Madrid, which began in November 1980 and lasted until September 1983.↩
- References are to Vytauta Skuodis, a Lithuanian dissident; Abe Stolar, a dual Soviet-American citizen; and the Chmykhalov and Vashchenko families, who were Soviet Pentecostalists living in the basement of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.↩