300. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • Art Hartman’s Talk Today with Gromyko

Ambassador Hartman reported to me that he had a cordial session today with Foreign Minister Gromyko.2 The news of Mrs. Gandhi’s [Page 1084] assassination had just arrived, and Art got Gromyko’s agreement that we should work to keep the situation calm in the sub-continent during this traumatic period.3 To hold them to this and avoid inflaming the situation in India, we have been pressuring the Soviets all day here and in Moscow to back off from blaming us for the tragedy.

The bulk of the meeting was devoted to arms control issues. Gromyko predictably said there should be changes in the US approach and complained about our intentions in space. He said we were agreed on the need for dialogue, contacts and negotiation, but complained, as usual, about the substance.

The most striking element of the talk was Gromyko’s request for the first time that we give them our “specific ideas” to move forward. He also suggested that all critical arms control issues should be discussed at the same time, noting it was not possible to single out one issue such as space, strategic systems, or tactical nuclear weapons while leaving the others “on the side.” Finally, Gromyko agreed with Art that the immediate problem before us was to determine “how” to conduct further exchanges, clearly playing off the points we have been making on the need to define a new concept to get back to serious arms control talks.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (10/31/84); NLR–748–25A–37–6–3. Secret; Sensitive. Reagan initialed this memorandum on November 2, indicating he saw it.
  2. In telegram 14011 from Moscow, October 31, Hartman provided a detailed account of his meeting with Gromyko. (Ibid.)
  3. In a separate telegram on Gandhi’s assassination, the Embassy reported that the death of Indira Gandhi had been confirmed minutes before Hartman’s meeting with Gromyko: “The Ambassador noted that the assassination was a tragedy and that India was in for a bad time in its wake. While he had no instructions from Washington, he was certain that the USG would view it as in the interests of both the Soviet Union and the United States that the situation in India remain calm. The USG wanted a unified India, an India at peace with its neighbor. We were prepared to do all we could toward those ends. Gromyko responded with the hope that the Indian people would be able to deal with Mrs. Gandhi’s death in a way which served their interests. He agreed that her assassination was a ‘grave loss’, interrupting his interpreter to add that ‘it would be well’ if things remained calm.” (Telegram 13974 from Moscow, October 31; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, N840012–0530)