147. Memorandum From Jack Matlock of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)1


  • Letter to Andropov

Attached at Tab I is a clean draft of the letter to Andropov.2 It is essentially the revised draft submitted earlier,3 except that it takes account of the fact that the President will not be making the speech until January. I think it best not to refer to the speech specifically this far in advance, but have included a sentence at the end of the first paragraph to foreshadow it.

The language in brackets on page three should be used only if Hartman is able to deliver it to one of Andropov’s aides (or, of course to Andropov himself—but this is most unlikely). That point could be covered in the instructions to Hartman, and the actual letter could be signed after we learn how delivery was made.

You will want to examine with particular care the language on the Middle East and Lebanon at the bottom of page three. Secretary Shultz may feel that this opens us up to inviting the Soviets into the ME peace process. I do not believe it does, in fact. The reason I suggest it is that I believe the Soviets have a strong desire to discuss the Middle East with us, and I believe it can be done without opening the door to their greater involvement in the area. At some point, we may wish to discuss such matters as expanding the UNIFIL mandate, and this can be done [Page 507] more effectively if we have some general discussions behind us. (Hartman’s recent discussion with Gromyko was, I believe, useful.)4

In any event, the letter needs some “bait” if we are to expect the Soviets to bite. We must recognize that they look at consultations in general as furthering our political purposes and will be reluctant to grant them unless they are convinced that something may come out of them and that the agenda will include, at least in part, matters of interest to them.


That you coordinate the attached text with Secretary Shultz.5

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Head of State Correspondence (US-USSR) December 1983. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for action. A handwritten notation in the upper right-hand corner, likely by McFarlane, reads: “Return by courier.”
  2. The draft letter is not attached to this copy of the memorandum, but a copy is attached to a December 18 covering memorandum from Burt to Shultz. (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Special Handling Restrictions Memos, 1979–1983, Lot 96D262, Super Sensitive December 1983) See Documents 149 and 150 regarding the final letter.
  3. See Document 141. In his December 18 covering memorandum to Shultz, Burt wrote: “Mr. Secretary: As I mentioned to you yesterday, Jack Matlock and I have taken another look at the draft Presidential letter to Andropov, which we think should be sent immediately before a Presidential speech on US-Soviet relations. We have agreed on a revised text of the letter, which is attached. It mainly reflects new developments since the original draft was sent over to the White House. If you have any comments or suggestions, I am standing by.” Shultz wrote in the margin: “RB Good ltr. No comments. G.” (Ibid.)
  4. Hartman and Gromyko met on December 10 in Moscow to discuss the Middle East. (Telegram 350505 from Moscow, December 10; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, N830012–0432)
  5. McFarlane did not initial his approval or disapproval of the recommendation. However, it is clear that the letter was coordinated with Shultz. In a December 19 memorandum to Shultz, Burt wrote: “Mr. Secretary: Attached is an updated version of the draft Presidential letter to Andropov, reworked by Jack Matlock and me. The only changes from the draft you saw earlier today [see footnote 3, above] are contained in the first paragraph omitting reference to the Presidential speech on US-Soviet relations.” McKinley wrote in the margin: “The Secretary approves.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Special Handling Restrictions Memos, 1979–1983, Lot 96D262, Super Sensitive December 1983)