54. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • Next Steps in US-Soviet Relations

At your direction, I have embarked on a process of intensive dialogue with Dobrynin on the full range of US-Soviet issues;2 Max Kampelman has been engaged on sensitive Madrid issues; and Art Hartman has also had a role in Moscow. We have identified four necessary topic areas for discussion:

A. Human Rights: In this area there has been some movement. It began with your initiative to break the impasse in the Pentecostalist case, but in recent weeks the Soviets, in the context of reaching a CSCE agreement in Madrid, appear to have been moving toward us on other human rights issues of special concern.

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B. Bilateral Relations: Dobrynin and I have reviewed outstanding issues in our bilateral relations to see where we might move to mutual advantage. In this area, our principal move was your proposal to begin negotiations for a new Long Term Agreement on grains. They knew we wanted an agreement, and they have now accepted the proposal.3

C. Arms Control: Here the results of our discussions have been mixed. We have covered virtually every topic in your arms control negotiating program, and the Soviet responses have ranged from some modest movement on START, MBFR, and your recent CBMs proposals; through a serious but still unsatisfactory reply to our démarches on their tests of the PL–5 ICBM; to a blank wall on INF. At the same time, there is some momentum in our bilateral exchanges with the Soviets on nuclear non-proliferation (Ambassador Richard Kennedy will hold a second round of these consultations in Moscow in mid-June). As you know we are now reviewing our positions on some of the central arms control issues and, depending on what we decide, we may have more to say to the Soviets on these subjects.

D. Regional Issues: We have had a fair amount of dialogue with the Soviets on issues such as Afghanistan, but positive results have been meager. Our task remains to drive home to the Soviets the importance of progress on these issues if there is to be a meaningful and lasting improvement in our relations.

Against this background, we are now in a position where we need to take further steps if we want to see whether a visit this summer to Moscow for meetings with Andropov and Gromyko, an invitation to Gromyko to Washington for a meeting with you at the time of the UNGA this fall, and ultimately a meeting between you and Andropov would be in our interest. I believe the next step on our part should be to propose the negotiation of a new US-Soviet cultural agreement and the opening of U.S. and Soviet consulates in Kiev and New York, as I suggested some months ago. Both of these proposals will sound good to the Soviets, but are unambiguously in our interest when examined from a hardheaded American viewpoint. I am enclosing copies of the options papers on these issues the Department earlier sent to Bill Clark.4

In NSDD 75 on US-Soviet relations, you endorsed the idea that getting an adequate formal framework for exchanges is the only way to ensure reciprocity in cultural, academic and media contacts with the Soviets, and to penetrate the Soviet Union with our own ideology. To get it we need to negotiate a new US-Soviet cultural agreement [Page 179] with the Soviets, and that is what Charlie Wick and I have proposed for your decision.5

The opening of U.S. and Soviet consulates in Kiev and New York would have the advantage of getting us onto new Soviet terrain while increasing the Soviet presence here only marginally. The Soviets already have a big UN Mission in New York, while our consulate in Kiev would be the first Western mission in the capital of the Ukraine. There is growing interest in a Kiev consulate in Congress and among American Jewish and Ukrainian groups. A U.S. presence in Kiev would also help us broaden our access to and ideological penetration of Soviet society.

In order to continue the dialogue process you have authorized me to pursue, I would like to propose to Dobrynin next week that we move forward with the cultural agreement and the consulates. So far it is the Soviets who have made most of the moves in the process, particularly on the LTA and human rights.6 It is now time for us to take some modest steps of our own. These steps are necessary (but obviously far from sufficient) ingredients to development of the possibility of a substantive meeting with real results between you and Andropov during your first term.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, William Clark Files, US–Soviet Relations Papers Working File: Contains Originals (6). Secret; Sensitive. Reagan initialed the memorandum, indicating he saw it. In forwarding a draft to Shultz on May 17, Burt wrote: “Per your instructions this afternoon, we have prepared the attached memorandum to the President. You may find the last paragraph too strongly worded for your tastes. If so, you could decide to delete all but the first sentence.” No changes were made in the paragraph. (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Special Handling Restrictions Memos, 1979–1983, Lot 96D262, May 16–23 1983) On an NSC routing slip attached to Shultz’s memorandum, Poindexter wrote: “Judge, I have tasked the staff to prepare a cover memo for this to go to President on Sunday [May 22]. George just will not follow the interagency process. After my conversation with you yesterday, I told State 10 June NSC meeting on U.S.-Soviet Relations was still scheduled and we still needed an interagency paper on consulates and cultural agreement. My tasking memo is attached. I had passed verbal instructions to them earlier. I’m sure George will want to talk about this at 0945 on Monday. JP.” (Reagan Library, William Clark Files, US–Soviet Relations Papers Working File: Contains Originals (6))
  2. On May 21, Dobriansky sent a memorandum to Clark that addressed her issues with Shultz’s memorandum. She recommended against Shultz meeting with Dobrynin “for the following reasons:

    “—The current international environment (Soviet obstinacy in Geneva, sabotage of US peace efforts in the Middle East, new round of pressures on Polish regime to intensify repression of workers, etc.) makes the raising of these symbolic issues untimely.

    “—Second, the impending June 10 Central Committee Plenum of the Communist Party might change or clarify the Soviet internal power balance, thus enabling us to judge Soviet moves better.

    “—Third, before these issues can be addressed, there is a need to develop and overall operational strategy as to how to implement the goals set forth in NSDD–75 (US Policy Toward the Soviet Union).

    “—Fourth, a June 10 NSC meeting is scheduled already to discuss the pros and cons of a cultural agreement and new consulates.” (Reagan Library, William Clark Files, US-Soviet Relations Papers Working File: Contains Originals (6))

  3. See Document 59.
  4. The options papers are attached; printed as attachments to Document 40.
  5. See Document 18.
  6. Reagan drew two parallel vertical lines in the right-hand margin next to this sentence and wrote a question mark.