91. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Meeting Between Secretary Haig and Minister Gromyko With Delegations


  • US

    • Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig
    • Under Secretary Walter J. Stoessel
    • Ambassador Arthur A. Hartman
    • Assistant Secretary Lawrence S. Eagleburger
    • Mr. Thomas W. Simons, Jr. (notetaker)
    • Mr. Dimitri Arensburger, Interpreter
  • USSR

    • Foreign Minister Andrey A. Gromyko
    • First Deputy Minister Georgiy Korniyenko
    • Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin
    • Mr. Vasiliy Markarov
    • Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh
    • Mr. Viktor Isakov (notetaker)
    • Mr. Viktor Sukhodrev, Interpreter

Gromyko said that he and the Secretary had touched on many important problems of U.S.-Soviet relations and the international situation generally. They had continued the discussions of September 23.2 It would probably be necessary to get in touch again through diplomatic channels before talks begin at the end of November to deal with procedural and organizational questions, unless by a stroke of genius someone had an idea on substantive matters. That is, if either side wished to say anything, this could be done through diplomatic channels, unless other forms of contact were made earlier.

Gromyko asked when Ambassador Hartman would be going to Moscow and whether he had already submitted to “interrogation and execution by Congress.” The Secretary replied that Hartman’s confirmation was over, and that he had passed with flying colors. Hartman said he planned to be in Moscow October 16. Gromyko expressed satisfaction, noting that the Embassy had been without a captain too long. The Secretary reiterated that Hartman had been handpicked, as one of our most distinguished professionals. Gromyko said he knew that: they had met many times, particularly on strategic arms limitations questions, in many latitudes and longitudes, though more in latitudes than in longitudes.

[Page 306]

Turning to bilateral questions, the Secretary suggested that rather than discuss them in depth today we ask our diplomatic representatives in Washington and Moscow to follow up on them. He agreed there had been a great deal of investment in building them up, much sweat had been expended, to use Gromyko’s term, and that it would be a tragedy to cast it aside. Related questions had been discussed earlier. Concerning our bilateral agreements, five were coming up for renewal this year in one form or another: medical science, environment, world oceans, artificial heart and maritime. He was optimistic on the world oceans agreement. On the artificial heart, he personally favored it, because he might need one.

Gromyko asked if there was anyone in the room who had signed the artificial heart agreement. Hartman said he had negotiated it, and the Under Secretary noted that he had been present. “But I signed it,” said Gromyko.3

With regard to the cultural agreement, the Secretary went on, the situation was somewhat different. There were problems with it for reasons of which Gromyko was aware. On the other hand, we thought that absence of an agreement should not interfere with privately sponsored exchanges, and that would continue to be our position until the larger problem was solved.

Gromyko said the matter of the cultural agreement was both simple and not simple. His fellow citizens found themselves in danger. They did not feel comfortable in the U.S.; they felt that their security was not assured. Steps should be taken to provide the necessary conditions. The Secretary said no one here welcomed dangers to Soviet citizens, and we should talk about this.

Generally, Gromyko said, five agreements were due to expire in the next six months, and several more next year. He trusted we were not burying them. The Secretary replied that each agreement is distinct. The Maritime Agreement, for instance, was coming up in the period ahead. We needed some adjustment of the text, and wished to renegotiate it. It was related to the long-term agreement on grains, which has been extended for the interim, and grains were under discussion now. The President felt that he wished to move on grains as a matter of policy, not to speak of mutual benefit. The Maritime Agreement would expire at the end of the year and will take a lot of work. We would not want an interim extension of the current agreement, because the balance of benefits has been against us. On oceans, he repeated, he [Page 307] was optimistic. We approach the question of bilateral agreements with the idea of extending, of adjusting them as necessary, not of throwing them out the window.

Gromyko raised the question of air traffic, would the boycott last long?4 Aircraft servicing, including baggage handling, was being provided by Soviet personnel. This was not very civilized, as a form of gymnastics for the Soviet Embassy personnel in Washington. The Secretary suggested it kept them fit. Gromyko replied it was a benefit they were willing to do without if the American side would display a more civilized approach. The Secretary said this was a matter we should look at together, perhaps next week between Assistant Secretary Eagleburger and Minister Bessmertnykh.

The Secretary noted that he had given Gromyko a list of names of cases of special interest, and Hartman would turn over our latest representation list to First Deputy Korniyenko after the meeting (NOTE: This was done.) Gromyko commented that the Secretary was interested in increasing Soviet exports to the U.S.

The Secretary noted that the question of consulates had earlier been discussed in diplomatic channels. Gromyko interjected that it was the U.S. side which had blocked on this issue, not the Soviet side. There was a building in Kiev. He had not seen it, but he understood it was refurbished and comfortable. It was standing idle. Naturally the Kiev authorities wished to use it. The Soviets needed an answer. The Secretary said he hoped to return to the question of consulates the next time they met. Gromyko said he hoped the approach would be positive, with regard to the building as well. The Secretary concluded that the experts could deal with it.

Gromyko asked if there were any other questions to discuss. The Secretary said he would like to raise an idea, put forward by U.S. businessman Don Kendall, of a joint TV program with a panel of U.S. and Soviet experts, for viewing in both countries. After Dobrynin had explained the concept to him, Gromyko said “let’s take a look.” He asked if the Secretary had in mind a series, or a single program. The Secretary said we should try it once. If it was successful we could do it again. On the U.S. side, it would even have a sponsor. Gromyko said we should look into this.

The Secretary noted that the space and energy agreements would expire in May, the science and technical cooperation agreement in July. Gromyko asked if the U.S. was inclined to renew them. The Secretary said the answer was yes in principle, though how it worked out would [Page 308] depend also on progress in other areas he had discussed. But, Gromyko asked, was the U.S. thinking in the direction of continuation? The Secretary repeated that in principle, the U.S. was thinking along these lines.

The Secretary asked how we should deal with the press. Gromyko said that there would be no joint statement. The Soviet side would not discuss details; it would say that many questions had been talked about, including SALT. (Korniyenko interjected with a smile that if they could agree to resume SALT negotiations, then, of course, there could be a joint statement.) Gromyko said each side would make its own statement, and the Soviets would say that in general the meeting was a continuation of previous discussion, that they had talked about bilateral and international issues, that the Soviets had stressed their interest in resolving international problems, especially those of peace and security, and bilateral problems that required settlement. They would not go into details and would not list problems discussed. It would be half a page, unless of course they agreed to begin SALT negotiations in October.

The Secretary asked what we should say about the agreement to continue discussions after the first of the year in Geneva. Perhaps we did not need to mention the place. Eagleburger suggested it would be useful to contact the Swiss first. Gromyko pondered how to formulate the answer and suggested “the exchange of views at the ministerial level on questions of mutual interest will be continued early next year.” The Secretary agreed, and proposed that the sides go to the Swiss soon. Pending that, we might say in response to questions that we would meet at a place to be mutually agreed. Gromyko replied that we should not beat around the bush, and if asked should say “perhaps in Geneva.” The Secretary agreed.

  1. 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.
  2. See Documents 88 and 89.
  3. The Agreement on Artificial Heart Research and Development was signed on June 28, 1974, and entered into force the same day. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974, Documents 186 and 199.
  4. A reference to the refusal of baggage handlers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to service flights arriving on the Soviet airliner Aeroflot.