136. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane) to President Reagan1


  • Discussion of Channels to the Soviets

Secretary Shultz has advised me that he intends to discuss alternative approaches for dealing with the Soviets during his meeting with you today at 1:30.2

This is an extremely complex, important and timely issue. Numerous analysts and observers returning from the Soviet Union in recent weeks have reported uniformly a high level of anxiety among Soviet [Page 462] leaders, and apparently sincere interest in communication, but a frustration at not knowing how to make it happen.3

You have persistently tried to arrange such an authoritative discreet channel. For various reasons the Soviets have not responded. Having observed successful4 efforts by three Administrations, I believe I may have something useful to offer both on the substance and mechanics of doing business with the Russians. Subject to your approval I would like to attend your session today with George.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Robert McFarlane Files, Chronological File, Chron (Official) November 1983; NLR–362–6–10–5–7. Secret.
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Reagan held a private afternoon meeting with Shultz on November 16 before an NSPG meeting. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) Reagan wrote in his diary: “Met with Geo. S. about establishing a pipe line outside the bureaucracy for direct contact with Soviets.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. I, January 1981–October 1985, p. 198)
  3. See Document 132.
  4. McFarlane inserted “and unsuccessful” in the margin.