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


  • My Meeting Today with Soviet DCM Sokolov

I got together for a lunch and a subsequent meeting this afternoon with Soviet Embassy DCM Sokolov to follow up on your last session with Dobrynin.2 Sokolov brought along an “oral reply” from Chernenko to the oral message Art passed along to the leadership in Moscow early yesterday.3 The text is attached. In handing over the reply, Sokolov said he wanted us to note two things: first, it was quite unusual that they could get us a reply so quickly during a holiday in Moscow, and second, it was a “very positive” message that he himself was quite happy about.

I told him that it did indeed seem positive and suggested that we move on from these atmospherics to a discussion of the substance. We then went over four different aspects of arms control:

—We first talked about their space arms control proposal. Sokolov seemed somewhat confused about our position on whether a discussion of offensive weapons was a precondition for discussions on outer space. I told him we thought it made sense to discuss offensive weapons in the context of discussions of outer space, but that it was not a precondition. He said he welcomed that statement.

—Second, we discussed the Soviet proposal for an ASAT moratorium. Sokolov asked if we had changed our position on agreeing to a moratorium. I told him this sounded like a precondition to us, but we were willing to discuss it when negotiations were underway on space. When I pointed to the President’s comment on the question in his UNGA speech, Sokolov appeared not to understand that this language referred to our willingness to discuss an ASAT moratorium when we were in negotiations.4

—Third, we talked about offensive nuclear forces. Sokolov asked about the President’s reference to an interim agreement during his meeting with Gromyko at the White House.5 I told him we had some [Page 1098] ideas about such an agreement that we would be prepared to discuss in the context of negotiations.

—Fourth, Sokolov said that in the Soviet version of the Reagan-Gromyko memcon, the President had suggested that a high-level confidential discussion on arms control could be conducted between someone in Moscow and someone in the White House. Sokolov asked what individual in the White House was to carry out these discussions. I told him our version of the memcon showed that the President did not refer to the White House specifically but merely said “here.” I said our position on carrying out a confidential discussion was flexible and that we did not have precise ideas about channels. However, as the President and the Secretary had indicated in the discussions with Gromyko, we were prepared for high-level confidential talks that would involve the two Foreign Ministers and possibly others. Sokolov seemed satisfied with this answer.

Finally, I took advantage of the meeting to press Sokolov on the two Berlin issues—the air corridors (following up on your last meeting with Dobrynin) and the closing of the Glienicker bridge threatened for November 15.6 I also asked him if he had anything for me on Nicaragua. He had nothing on Berlin. However, on Nicaragua he said that the Soviet government “stands by” the statement of the Nicaraguan Foreign Minister that the Soviet ship at Corinto contains no combat aircraft.7

[Page 1099]


Oral Reply From Soviet General Secretary Chernenko to President Reagan8

Thank you for the oral message transmitted through Ambassador Hartman. I would like to take this opportunity personally to congratulate you on your reelection to the post of President of the USA.

I want to reaffirm that I and my colleagues in the Soviet leadership come out firmly for reversing the present unfavorable trends in the international situation and in Soviet-American relations. We take note of your statement about the possibility and necessity of establishing more stable and constructive relations between our two countries for the long term.

The main thing there, in our view, is to begin in practice movement forward, to act in specific ways to stop the arms race, to establish the necessary level of trust, and to build our mutual relations on the basis of equality, non-interference and respect for each other’s interests.

For our part, we are prepared to search on this path for solutions to the problems that stand before the Soviet Union and the USA, above all the task of eliminating the nuclear threat.

I would like to hope for corresponding reciprocal action in this on your part.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, November 1984 Super Sensitive Documents. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Pascoe; cleared by Simons. Forwarded through Armacost.
  2. See Document 296.
  3. See Document 303.
  4. See footnote 7, Document 267.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 289.
  6. See Document 296. In telegram 2983 from the Mission in Berlin, October 3, the Mission reported: “The GDR has told the Berlin Senat that as of November 15 it will close the Glienicker Bridge between the American sector of Berlin and the GDR (near Potsdam). The principal users of the bridge are members of the three Western Military Liaison Missions to the Group of Soviet Forces, Germany.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840630–0006)
  7. On November 7, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister d’Escoto made an official statement denying that Nicaragua “was about to obtain advanced fighter aircraft from the Soviet bloc.” He reported that the cargo of the Soviet freighter unloading in the port of Corinto “contained nothing that would endanger the peace of nearby nations.” (Stephen Kinzer, “Nicaragua Says No Jet Fighters Are Being Sent,” New York Times, November 8, 1984, p. A1) See also footnote 6, Document 303.
  8. Secret. The text of the oral statement, translated from Russian, was provided by the Soviet Embassy. Reagan initialed another copy of this oral message from Chernenko, indicating he saw it. (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8498292)) The text of Chernenko’s message was sent via telegram to Hartman in Moscow. (Telegram 334288 to Moscow, November 9; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, [no N number])