265. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • Dealing With Gromyko in September

Further to our conversation on Gromyko, I wanted to review with you our thinking on how we deal with him this fall.

One obvious problem we need to consider is whether Gromyko might be so harsh in his public statements that it would vitiate the positive aspects of a meeting with the President. We certainly can expect Gromyko to be tough in New York2—both in private and in public—but we doubt he would attempt to use a meeting as a way to humiliate the President. The Soviets have a strong incentive to keep the lines open and would look at such a meeting as the opening round of talks in the next four years in addition to it being a political gesture by the President.

In fact, they may be hinting at wanting a meeting with the President. A Soviet diplomat (probably Sokolov) told John Scali3 a few days ago that he thought Gromyko would be invited to meet with the President this fall. Another Soviet diplomat in Berlin told Nelson Ledsky4 a traditional Gromyko trip to Washington during the UNGA depended on whether he was treated in the same way as he had been before Afghanistan. Today Sokolov passed on Gromyko’s “heartfelt gratitude” for your letter on his 75th anniversary, clearly meant as an appreciation of the diplomatic niceties, and Sokolov pointed to your reference to a meeting at the UN in the message as an important gesture.

I suggest the following scenario: Sokolov owes me a reply on Gromyko’s UN plans. At that time it would be appropriate to take up with him the modalities of a meeting between you and Gromyko early in your stay in New York (perhaps on September 25) and tentatively schedule a follow up session toward the end of your time at the UN. [Page 941] If your first session goes well and Gromyko’s speech is not too outrageous, you can invite him to Washington to meet with the President at the time already penciled in for a second meeting.

Such a scenario would provide us maximum flexibility and avoid undue embarassment. To increase our leverage on Gromyko’s deportment, we might quietly let the Soviets know ahead of time that there was a possibility of a meeting with the President. This could encourage Gromyko to take a somewhat more constructive tack in his public and private utterances. It would also give the Soviets an early graceful out if they calculated that they did not want to provide a boost to the President during the election campaign.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, July–December 1984 Super Sensitive Documents. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Pascoe; cleared by Palmer. Forwarded through Armacost.
  2. Gromyko was scheduled to attend the UNGA session in late September in New York.
  3. John Scali was a senior ABC News correspondent. From 1973 to 1975, he served as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations under President Nixon.
  4. Nelson Ledsky, U.S. Minister in Berlin, 1981–1985.