307. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1
- Dobrynin’s Call to Deliver A Letter From Chernenko on Nicaragua
Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin called on me today to hand over a letter to you from Chairman Chernenko complaining about our policy in Nicaragua. In it Chernenko argues that tension is being whipped up around Nicaragua without justification and warns that it could affect US-Soviet relations. But the letter also includes an emphatic denial that Soviet combat jets have been shipped to Nicaragua.2 It is interesting that he seeks to apply linkage to us by using our desire for improved relations to moderate our Nicaragua policy, since this implies he thinks that desire is sincere. But his warning that our actions against Nicaragua could spoil prospects for better US-Soviet relations is also a reflection of the weakness of the Soviet position in the area.
In handing over the letter, Dobrynin said it was a private message which they did not intend to publish. He also pointed to Chernenko’s statement that we should work towards straightening out our relations and his recognition that you are “having thoughts along similar lines”.3 He noted that his deputy Sokolov had just been in to see Deputy Assistant Secretary Palmer to inform him that they are ready now to discuss dates and agenda for sessions of the joint US-Soviet commissions on cooperation on agriculture, the environment, and housing and to suggest (albeit in a tortured, roundabout way) that they may be ready to talk with us on southern Africa.4
We do not believe it necessary to revise the letter from you to Chernenko which Art Hartman is scheduled to hand over to Gromyko on Tuesday morning.5 I will also give Dobrynin a copy of it here. We [Page 1108] will shortly be forwarding to you our suggestions on how to respond to Chernenko on Nicaragua.
- Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8491175). Secret; Sensitive. Reagan initialed this memorandum, indicating he saw it. A November 16 State Department covering memorandum from Burt to Shultz indicates the memorandum was drafted by Pascoe; cleared by Simons and Palmer.↩
- See footnote 6, Document 303 and footnote 7, Document 304.↩
- See attachment to Document 304.↩
- In telegram 342385 to Moscow, November 17, the Department summarized the Sokolov-Palmer meeting on November 16, which covered the Gandhi assassination, South Africa, and joint commissions. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, N840013–0377)↩
- Tuesday, November 20. For the text of this letter, see Document 308.↩
- No classification marking. Printed from an unofficial translation. The text of the letter, translated from Russian, was provided by the Soviet Embassy.↩