130. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • My Lunch Today with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin

I had a wide-ranging discussion at a private lunch with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin on the state of the U.S.-Soviet relationship. Rather than dwell on details, I focused the conversation on the nature of our dialogue and whether, in fact, discussions at a high level serve a useful function for the two countries.

Dobrynin said that it appeared to Moscow that the U.S. wants confrontation rather than to solve problems. He claimed we had handled the KAL incident in a provocative way and complained about your blaming the Soviets for everything, including Bishop’s death in Grenada2 and the Beirut tragedy.3 I told him that, from our perspective, our response on KAL had been restrained. Furthermore, I emphasized our shock over the apparent Soviet decision to renege on its commitment to Max Kampelman on Shcharanskiy. I added that the two sides clearly differed substantially on ideological issues and that we were prepared to compete in that area. I also said that we are ready for real discussions, but these had to focus not only on arms control but also [Page 447] on issues of importance to us such as Soviet regional misbehavior and human rights. Dobrynin did not really argue with my points, but he did grouse that on some issues such as the Middle East we had been reluctant to talk.

Dobrynin seemed to have explicit instructions only on INF. He went through Andropov’s latest proposal in familiar terms, adding a complaint about the “double standard” in which the U.S. asserted its right to deploy missiles in the FRG “only eight minutes from the USSR” while insisting that the Soviets have no missiles in Cuba. This was said matter-of-factly rather than as a threat.

I summed up with Dobrynin by suggesting that we think about our conversation and meet again after the Asian trip.4 I said we both needed to consider whether it was useful to continue a high-level dialogue and how we should go about it, adding that the past experience of several American administrations has been that efforts at a U.S.-Soviet dialogue always seem to be derailed by Soviet actions.

I hope the session will give the Kremlin food for thought. Incidentally, Dobrynin told me he had been reporting to Moscow that you will stand for reelection and win and that the Soviet government must be prepared to deal with the Administration for the next five years.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (10/26/83–10/31/83); NLR–748–24–38–10–9. Secret.
  2. Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was overthrown and executed during a coup on October 19.
  3. See footnote 9, Document 129.
  4. Shultz accompanied the President on State visits to Japan from November 9 to 12 and to South Korea from November 12 to 14.