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


  • My Meeting with Sokolov November 19

Sokolov came in at my request at 3:30 p.m. today, and I gave him a copy of the draft text of a joint communique approved this morning by the President.2 I added that we are proposing Geneva as the venue for your meeting with Gromyko. I pointed out that our text was brief and factual, and drew on the language of Chernenko’s message.3 I told him we wished to move quickly in order to release a text before there were leaks and distortions, if possible by Wednesday,4 so that we would appreciate a response to our proposal by tomorrow.

Sokolov said the Soviets can move quickly when the will is there, but he had two questions:

—Would there be an answer from the President to Chernenko’s message? I assured him there would be, although precise timing was as yet unclear.

—Was Moscow excluded as a venue? I replied that our preference was for Geneva.

On substance, Sokolov said he of course had no instructions, but on a personal basis he would suggest drawing on the Chernenko message to add language defining the objective of your meeting with Gromyko, along the lines of “In order to have a mutual understanding of the objectives and subjects of such negotiations.” We should anticipate that the Soviet response will include such a suggestion—which should not raise a big problem for us. On the way out, Sokolov explained to Tom Simons that he had asked about the Moscow venue because the Soviets are thinking in terms of having at least the initial [Page 1131] meetings alternate between capitals, i.e. along the same lines as you. Tom replied that I had accurately stated our position on venue.5

  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 Simons; cleared by Palmer. Forwarded through Armacost. McKinley’s handwritten initials are on the memorandum, indicating he saw it on November 19.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 312.
  3. See attachment to Document 310.
  4. November 21.
  5. According to telegram 345921/Tosec 180011 to Shultz, November 21, Sokolov provided Burt with the following Soviet draft text: “The Soviet Union and the United States have agreed to enter into new negotiations with the objective of reaching mutually acceptable agreements on the whole range of questions concerning nuclear and outer space arms. In order to reach a common understanding as to the subject and objectives of such negotiations, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and Secretary of State George P. Shultz will meet in on January 7–8, 1985.” (Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, N840013–0458; blank is in the original) For the final text of the November 22 announcement, see footnote 8, Document 314. In Moscow the same day, the Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman also announced that talks would begin in January in Geneva. (Dusko Doder, “Moscow Optimistic About New Arms Talks,” Washington Post, November 23, 1984, p. A20)