299. Memorandum From Jack Matlock of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)1
- Thoughts on a Private Channel to the Soviet Leadership
I have compiled some thoughts on the whys and hows of a private channel which may be useful to you in further discussions with Secretary Shultz and the President. They are at TAB 1. Also, I have made an initial stab at describing what I would recommend discussing in a private meeting, if it is decided to arrange one (TAB 2).2 The latter is very preliminary and is meant to be indicative of the way the issues would be discussed. Some of the talking points need to be elaborated in more detail (particularly those for contingency use), and some key points are subject to decision and guidance. (The more important of these are underlined.)
Even if the Soviets accept a request for a meeting, we should not expect immediate results. They will doubtless wish to feel their way a bit and to gain some experience before they rely totally on the pledges of confidentiality. But even in the early stages, it would provide them a vehicle for conveying messages if they choose to send some. The most useful thing we are likely to obtain initially, however, will be comments which will improve our ability to assess Soviet priorities among the various proposals they have made, as well as hints as to how some of our proposals could be framed to make them more palatable.
I am not sure of the reasons for Secretary Shultz’s caution. If it is a fear of offending Gromyko, I would argue that the fear is misplaced: [Page 1080] if Gromyko does not want the meeting to occur, it will not. It is more likely that he would find it acceptable since it does not violate jurisdictional distinctions as the Soviets interpret them. In any event, requesting the meeting will do nothing to complicate anything we have proposed.
If it would be helpful for me to be present when the matter is discussed (to answer questions about how it could be done and the way the Soviets look at the various issues involved), I of course will be glad to join you.
- Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Chronological File, 1980–1986, Matlock Chron September 1984 (3/5). Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Not for System. Sent for information. In a note on the attached routing slip, Poindexter wrote: “Bud, I asked Jack to put this package together. I recommend you discuss with George and try to get him to agree. You could also make the point about future Amb. to Moscow. I think this contact should be made before the Arms Control person is named just so they have a heads up and understand context. JP.”↩
- The talking points are attached but not printed.↩
- Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Brackets are in the original.↩
- See Document 195.↩
- See footnote 4, Document 295.↩
- See footnote 3, Document 6 and footnote 4, Document 137.↩
- See Document 193.↩