372. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • My Meeting Today with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin

I called in Dobrynin today for an extended session to take stock of the overall US-Soviet agenda. My purpose was to emphasize to the Soviets that we expect progress on all aspects of the relationship in the months ahead and to warn them of some possible stumbling blocks.

Arms Control: To lead off the discussion, I stressed that you are pleased talks are to begin in Geneva and have been saying so publicly, and that our approach is serious.2 I noted that we have a strong new delegation and are taking a fresh look at the issues.3 I chided Dobrynin on Soviet reports that question US seriousness in the negotiations.4 Dobrynin replied that the Soviets also want the negotiations to be successful, but insist on strict adherence to the terms of the January communique, a line approved by the Politburo at a meeting he said he had attended.5 He complained about US statements that some things are not negotiable. I also told Dobrynin I hoped we would see some serious movement in the on-going arms control talks in Stockholm and Vienna.

Regional Issues: Referring to the February 19–20 talks in Vienna between Dick Murphy and his Soviet counterpart, I said we would want to talk about Iran-Iraq, Lebanon, Arab-Israeli issues, and Afghanistan.6 I expressed concern that the Afghanistan war might be broadened by actions against Pakistan, and reaffirmed our support for the UN peace [Page 1373] efforts. Dobrynin said they were prepared to discuss all Mideast issues in Vienna, but that they “did not intend” to talk about Afghanistan since it did not fall under their man Polyakov’s area of responsibility. I am sure he understands we will make our Afghanistan points in the meeting regardless of whether they choose to respond. He had nothing new on Iran-Iraq or the Mideast other than to say that they believe the Vienna talks can be useful.

I reviewed with Dobrynin our concerns over their support for Vietnamese actions in Cambodia. He excused the Vietnamese, as usual, by referring to the past abuses by the Khmer Rouge. I responded that I did not believe the people of Cambodia wanted either the Khmer Rouge or the Vietnamese, that a way needs to be found for them to make their own choice, and that the ASEAN proposals have merit. Turning to Ethiopia, I sketched out the tragedy of three million starving people in contested areas and urged the Soviets to persuade the Ethiopians to allow food into these areas. Dobrynin agreed that the humanitarian issues were beset with political complications, but he said that the distribution was a purely Ethiopian issue and we should discuss the problems directly with the Ethiopian government.

Bilateral Issues: I told Dobrynin that we were pleased with the Shcherbitskiy visit to the United States and would work to make the trip a success.7 The visit offered an excellent opportunity to move on new consulates in Shcherbitskiy’s Kiev base and in New York. Dobrynin agreed that we should discuss the Kiev Consulate with Shcherbitskiy, but then reiterated the Soviet line that the Soviets had no interest in a New York consulate unless Aeroflot was giving it some visitors to deal with.8 I responded that we needed to resolve the issues that had led to Aeroflot suspension. Indicating he understood the linkage, Dobrynin noted that we have proposed that talks on Northern [Page 1374] Pacific safety measures begin February 26,9 and hoped this would help clear the way. We both agreed that the exchanges negotiations should move ahead rapidly, and I gave him our views on several economic issues including fishing and the unacceptability of Soviet whaling practices.

I reiterated US interest in your space rescue proposal10 and the possibility of joint commemoration this July of the Tenth Anniversary of the linkup of Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft. Dobrynin was interested if we had anything on their proposals for the V-E Day anniversary, but I put him off for the present.11 I also used the session to get [Page 1375] Dobrynin’s attention on our strong opposition to a new payroll scheme they are attempting to institute for Soviet employees of foreign embassies in Moscow.

Human Rights: I took the time to once again underline our deep concern over the human rights situation in the Soviet Union. I encouraged movement on Shcharanskiy and Sakharov, deplored the recent wave of arrests of Hebrew teachers and the increase in anti-Semitism in the USSR, and told him we expected some progress on the emigration of people with a claim to American citizenship and the Soviet spouses of Americans.

In closing, we both agreed that the US-Soviet relationship was better than a year or two ago, but that it still has a long way to go.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Meetings with USSR Officials, US-Soviet Diplomatic Contacts 8/8. Secret; Sensitive. According to a covering memorandum to Shultz on another copy, it was drafted by Pascoe and cleared by Simons and Palmer. (Ibid.)
  2. On January 26, the White House formally announced “The United States and the Soviet Union have agreed to begin negotiations on nuclear and space arms on March 12, 1985, in Geneva, Switzerland.” (Public Papers: Reagan, 1985, Book I, p. 74)
  3. See Document 365.
  4. In telegram 688 from Moscow, January 16, the Embassy reported: “Following up Gromyko’s TV interview on the Geneva arms control agreement,” (see Document 366) “Pravda carries a front page editorial on the subject January 16. The editorial reiterates many of Gromyko’s points, and directly questions US seriousness in the upcoming talks.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D850034–0792)
  5. The communiqué concluded the January 7–8 Geneva meetings between Shultz and Gromyko. See footnote 3, Document 363.
  6. See Document 371.
  7. A Soviet delegation, headed by Politburo member Vladimir Shcherbitsky, was scheduled to visit Washington and met with President Reagan on March 7. This was a reciprocal invitation issued by Congressmen Tom Foley and Dick Cheney who were in Moscow in the summer of 1983. For the meeting between Reagan and Shcherbitsky, see Document 378.
  8. Since April 1983, talks regarding consulates in Kiev and New York were ongoing (see Document 36). After the KAL shootdown and suspension of Aeroflot flights, the consulate talks became linked to ICAO discussion on air safety and resumption of Aeroflot flights. In telegram 493 from Moscow, January 11, the Embassy reported on a January 7 meeting on civilian air issues: “The Soviet official broached the issue of Aeroflot service to the U.S., and was reminded of U.S. requirements on North Pacific safety measures, and of the need for equitable treatment of any U.S. carrier operating in the U.S.-USSR market. The Soviets continue to be interested in contacts with Pan Am on commercial questions related to U.S.-USSR air service.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D850024–0434)
  9. In telegram 63798/Tosec 40089 to Moscow, March 2, the Department reported: “Following the tragedy of the Korean Air Lines Flight 007 the United States and Japan jointly proposed to the Soviet Union that technical measures be instituted to improve air safety in the Northern Pacific. These proposals provide for, among other things, the designation of a single point of contact between U.S., Soviet and Japanese air traffic control services, a direct communications link between Japanese and Soviet air control centers and the publication by the U.S.S.R. of non-directional radio beacons to provide for a cross check for aircraft flying international routes over the Northern Pacific. The proposals were given to the Soviet ICAO representative in Montreal in February 1984. US, Soviet, and Japanese negotiators began meeting in Washington on February 26.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D850144–0003)
  10. See footnote 5, Document 352. During a January 16 meeting, Burt informed Isakov that the President wanted to renew “the US offer to undertake joint space rescue mission with the Soviet Union. Burt made the following points:

    “—The US does not view or seek to make space an arena of competition between our two countries.

    “—There have been notable cooperative efforts between us, for example, the instrumentation developed by US scientists now carried aboard your Vega space probe.

    “—The President has asked us to reiterate the offer we made to you last January for a joint US-Soviet manned mission to develop space rescue techniques.

    “—Such a mission would be relatively easy to set up from a technical view, and would benefit both our manned space programs.

    “—In your response last March to our offer, you said that we needed first to address the problems of the ‘militarization of space.’

    “—Now that we have agreed to begin negotiations on space as a part of our new arms control dialogue, we urge you to reconsider our suggestion on space rescue.” (Telegram 17209 to Moscow, January 18; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, N850001–0484) On February 19, during a meeting with Burt, Sokolov reaffirmed “the essentially negative Soviet response last year (March 13, 1984), tying agreement in this instance to progress in Geneva and on not turning space ‘into an arena for military competition.’” (Telegram 50737 to Moscow, February 20; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, N850002–0585)

  11. The approaching 40th anniversary of V-E Day posed some diplomatic problems for the United States. In his memoir, Shultz wrote: “By the end of 1984, anxiety was growing about the upcoming fortieth anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe and about how V-E Day would be commemorated. The German government was particularly concerned that Allied, or even U.S.-Soviet, ceremonies would project the image of wartime victors in sharp relief against the vanquished Germanies. These fears made the Germans seem uncharacteristically wary of U.S.-Soviet commemorative steps, even though they might contribute to positive movement in East-West relations, a goal they otherwise strongly supported. Any step, I could see, that would be interpreted as once again consigning West Germany to outcast status was undesirable.” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, p. 540)