19. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • Next Steps in US-Soviet Relations

In accordance with your instructions,2 here is how I propose to proceed in our bilateral relations with the Soviets in the coming months. I will continue to report to you and seek your further guidance at each stage of the process.3

Human Rights: We will continue to keep this issue at the top of our agenda with the Soviets, focusing on:

The Pentecostalists: I will meet with Dobrynin this week to begin implementing the approach you have approved.4 Emphasizing that the recent Soviet response does not go far enough, I will press Dobrynin to permit the immediate emigration of the one member of the family (Lydia) who was evacuated from the Embassy in connection with her hunger strike last year. I will also give him our understanding of the Soviet statement concerning the Pentecostalists still in the Embassy, i.e. that they will be given permission to emigrate if they return to their home and submit applications.5 At this initial meeting, I will inform Dobrynin that I have discussed areas for possible progress in our bilateral relations with you, but will reserve further discussion of these for a later meeting.

Shcharanskiy: I will continue in subsequent meetings to reiterate our strong interest in an early release of Shcharanskiy and indicate that we remain interested in the possibility of an exchange for him (as you know, there has recently been some movement on this score).

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Madrid: Underscoring our interest in a balanced outcome at Madrid, I will continue to reinforce Max Kampleman’s suggestion that Soviet release of a number of prisoners of conscience would remove a major obstacle to a successful conclusion of the conference.6

Arms Control: In my meetings with Dobrynin and in our other diplomatic contacts, we will stress our intention to continue serious negotiations at Geneva. Our arms control approach will continue to be based on the criteria you have established—real reductions, equality, verifiability, and enhanced stability of the East-West military balance.

Regional Issues: In accordance with our overall policy of probing Andropov for new flexibility on regional issues, we will continue to raise these issues with the Soviets. Because we do not wish to fall into the old pattern of conducting most of our exchanges through Dobrynin, our principal interlocutor with the Soviets on these issues will continue to be Art Hartman. I believe that in coming months Art should test the Soviets on the following regional issues:

Middle East: Art should meet with senior MFA Officials for a discussion of the Middle East, as he has done on two recent occasions. These exchanges represent a low-cost means of keeping the Soviets at bay on this issue and, of course, would not touch upon more sensitive aspects of our diplomacy. They also give us a means of reiterating our concerns about unhelpful Soviet behavior, such as the export of SA–5s to Syria.

Afghanistan: Art should also be instructed to keep the pressure on Moscow by reiterating our basic position on Afghanistan—something we have not done in detail since Andropov became General Secretary. Following the visit of UN SYG Perez de Cuellar to Moscow this month and the next round of UN-sponsored talks in Geneva next month, we will again assess whether there is more we can do, together with the Pakistanis and Chinese, to press Moscow on Afghanistan.

Southern Africa: We are carefully considering whether further US-Soviet dialogue would advance our Namibia/Angola initiative and our broader objectives in the region. If this review suggests that more exchanges would be in our interest, I would anticipate that Art would be our principal channel of communication on this issue as well.

Bilateral Relations: In this area, we will move deliberately and cautiously, looking at each step in terms of our interests and the requirements of our overall policy approach. In accordance with your guidance, I will in subsequent meetings with Dobrynin indicate our willingness to take two steps that are in our interest:

—Negotiation of a new cultural agreement to enforce reciprocity and enhance U.S. ideological penetration of the Soviet Union itself;

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—Opening of a U.S. consulate in Kiev to establish a new U.S. presence in the Ukraine.

As for the existing bilateral agreements which come up for review/renewal over the next year, we will examine carefully each agreement on its merits to ensure that any action we take is clearly in the U.S. interest. The first of these is the Fisheries Agreement where we are already under pressure from Congress and U.S. fishing interests to negotiate a new agreement with expanded joint venture fishing activities—steps which would rescind elements of our Afghanistan and Poland sanctions regime. I will be sending you a recommendation on this issue shortly.

As I suggested in our recent discussions, the long-term grains agreement is a special case requiring careful handling. I will shortly be sending you a recommendation on this matter.

High-level Dialogue: As noted above, I will be implementing your instructions in meetings with Dobrynin, focusing first on the Pentecostalists, and then addressing other issues in subsequent meetings. I will instruct Art Hartman to pursue his contacts with the Soviet MFA on regional issues. If these discussions indicate that a meeting before the next UNGA between Gromyko and me would be in our interest, I will have further recommendations on timing and venue.

Public Handling: As we proceed, it will be essential that our public statements on US-Soviet relations continue to emphasize our concerns about Soviet behavior—their military buildup, geopolitical expansionism, and human rights violations. Against this background of Soviet behavior, we must continue to stress the necessity for a renewal of American economic and military strength. It must be equally clear that we have no intention of returning to “business-as-usual” in our bilateral relations with the Soviet Union—there must be significant concrete changes in Soviet behavior.

Our public statements should also emphasize that we intend to continue the dialogue with the Soviet Union which we began at the outset of this Administration on the full agenda we have established. We should continue to emphasize our intention to negotiate in good faith in the START and INF talks. But we should also underscore that we have engaged the Soviet Union in discussion of human rights, regional issues, and our bilateral relations. While continuing to stress the continuity of our policy of realism, strength, and dialogue, we can proceed with confidence to take limited steps in our bilateral relations with the Soviet Union where it is in our interest to do so.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, 1983 Soviet Union March. Secret; Sensitive. In a March 14 memorandum to Shultz, forwarded through Eagleburger, Burt summarized the purpose of sending this memorandum forward to Reagan. Eagleburger wrote in the margin: “G.S.: This is a good memo. LSE.” (Ibid.) Lenczowski forwarded the memorandum to Reagan on March 25 (see Document 25).
  2. See Document 17.
  3. In his memoir, Shultz wrote: “On March 16, I sent the president an important memorandum entitled ‘Next Steps in U.S.-Soviet Relations.’ I outlined my proposed program and our four-part agenda. Instead of asking for the president’s formal approval—and thereby allowing my memo to be funneled through the NSC staffing process—I gave the president my reading of our own private discussions, and I said, ‘Here is how I propose to proceed in our bilateral relations with the Soviets in the coming months. I will continue to report to you and seek your further guidance at each stage of the process.’” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, p. 269)
  4. Reference is presumably to Shultz’s meeting with Dobrynin that evening. See Document 20.
  5. See Document 12.
  6. Kampelman headed the U.S. Delegation to the CSCE Second Review Conference being held in Madrid.