242. Personal Note Prepared by the Deputy Secretary of State (Dam)1
I attended a meeting this afternoon in the White House with Bud McFarlane and John Poindexter to discuss next steps on the meeting that the Soviets have proposed for September in Vienna on “the militarization of space.” The meeting went on for an hour and a half, and so we covered many topics, but we came down to the conclusion that the President should, in a week or so, respond to a letter received on Saturday from Chernenko attacking the U.S. position that we must discuss not only space but also associated offensive systems.2 The general situation is that the Soviets are most interested in talking about our strategic defense initiative, whereas we, partly for internal reasons within the Administration, have no interest in negotiating away the SDI in any way at this time, but we do want to talk about offensive systems.[Page 868]
Actually there are several aspects of the current situation. First, we would obviously like to have a series of meetings in Vienna in September, both because it would provide a substantive opportunity and because the President and his closest campaign aides would like to see some arms control negotiations restarted before the election. On the other hand, the Soviets understand this and are using that fact to put the negotiations on the basis which is best for them substantively. Second, we have the problem of knowing what it is that we are prepared to negotiate about. On the one hand, we have been going through an exercise in the interagency process which no doubt dictates being cautious about being able to negotiate about very much at all at this point. On the other hand, the President is very interested in having a heart-to-heart broad discussion with the Soviets about how to get into a posture where we can negotiate very broadly about all kinds of offensive and defensive weapons.
[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Soviet Union.]