20. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S.

    • Secretary of State Shultz
    • Mark Palmer, EUR
  • USSR

    • Ambassador Dobrynin
    • Minister-Counselor Sokolov

The Secretary opened by stating that he had discussed with the President the matters which are on our agenda. The President found his meeting with Dobrynin useful.2 The Secretary expected shortly to be able to review with Dobrynin a number of issues. But he had insufficient time to do so properly now. The effort we are making is on track.

The Secretary then said that he did not want to let more time go by on the Pentecostalists. The President was pleased with the promptness of the Soviet response. We would like to move ahead to resolve this problem. We interpret the Soviet response to mean that if the Pentecostalists leave the Embassy, go home and apply for visas, their requests will be acted upon favorably. If we are not correct—and we are not asking for the Soviet Union to rewrite its communication—the Secretary said he would like to know about it.

The Secretary continued that we believe persuading the Pentecostalists will not be easy. One of them has left the Embassy—Lidia Vashchenko. If her papers are processed and she is allowed to leave the Soviet Union, we could inform the Pentecostalists still in the Embassy, and this would be definitive, and persuasive evidence. We request the Soviet Union to act on this key element so that we can make this effort come about.

Dobrynin responded that he could not say more than is in their communication.3 Careful examination of it should be done. He was not in a position to give additional assurances. There were matters of principle, legality and extra-territoriality. The Soviet authorities would take into consideration all the circumstances, including the President’s [Page 72] appeal. But he could not give any guarantee and doubted that Moscow could.

Dobrynin argued that they could not have a situation in which the Pentecostalists go to OVIR (Soviet passport office) and say that they have assurances from the U.S. Ambassador and the Secretary of State. We should be eloquent and persuade the Pentecostalists to proceed.

The Secretary then stressed that we need more than eloquence. We face a practical problem and are trying to resolve it. We made our points carefully. The Secretary then reiterated them again, stressing that we were not asking for additional assurances but that if our understanding was off base, we should be told. He also emphasized again that allowing Lidia to emigrate would constitute a convincing argument.

Dobrynin then stated that he would pass our message to Moscow. He went on to ask where we stood on other matters.

The Secretary stated that he would be in touch promptly to continue our effort and to become more specific. He had been busy with other matters.

Dobrynin said he would like to raise one question. There are still major issues at the Geneva talks. The Secretary had stated before this round in Geneva that he would look through these issues. This round is almost over. Maybe higher levels than the delegations should address these matters. He was speaking from experience. What did the Secretary think? Would it be worthwhile?

The Secretary stated that when he got back to Dobrynin he would have some comments to make on arms control. But we also wanted to discuss regional issues and we had a number of bilateral matters to address. We wanted to see what we could do, for example on what we have called “Madrid” issues. We accept approaching these matters in that spirit.

The Secretary reiterated that arms control is certainly one of the most important issues, but there are other issues too. The menu is important. His discussions with Dobrynin would continue. Art Hartman’s discussions in Moscow also can make contributions. The Secretary does not have any doubt that as we proceed we should try to arrange a meeting with Gromyko. At the next meeting with Dobrynin he would have one or two concrete things. The Secretary concluded by noting that everybody has a different approach to exercise. Some like to walk. Dobrynin seemed like he wanted to run. But the Secretary is a jogger.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Special Handling Restrictions Memos, 1979–1983, Lot 96D262, ES Sensitive, March 16–23 1983. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Palmer on March 18; cleared by Seitz and McManaway. Palmer initialed for both clearing officials. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s office. A typed notation indicates that McManaway “cleared cable with ident. text.” The text of the memorandum of conversation was sent to Moscow in telegram 80054, March 24. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, [no N number])
  2. See Document 10.
  3. See Document 12.