64. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S.-Soviet Relations


  • U.S.

    • George P. Shultz, Secretary of State
    • Kenneth W. Dam, Deputy Secretary of State
    • Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
    • Edward Rowny, Ambassador, U.S. START Negotiator, Geneva
    • Morton I. Abramowitz, Ambassador, U.S. MBFR Negotiator, Vienna
    • Richard Burt, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
    • Thomas W. Simons, Jr., Director, EUR/SOV
  • USSR

    • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador, Washington
    • Oleg M. Sokolov, Minister-Counselor, Soviet Embassy, Washington
    • Viktor F. Isakov, Minister-Counselor, Soviet Embassy, Washington

The meeting was divided into a private session [during which Burt separately raised four other topics with Sokolov and Isakov], a larger meeting, and a concluding private session.

In the initial private session the Secretary said he would be introducing a number of items previously discussed, but wished to make one main point: the President continues to be willing to engage the Soviets in serious dialogue aimed at solving problems. The Secretary would be making various proposals designed to determine whether the Soviets are also prepared for such dialogue, but he wanted Dobrynin to understand that from the point of view of U.S. policy the whole is larger than the sum of these parts.

The Secretary also raised two regional issues in that session:

—As the President had instructed him to do, he told Dobrynin that Soviet/Cuban activities in Central America—and in particular their support for Nicaragua and Nicaraguan activities and their arms shipments to the area—were in our view “unfriendly acts.” Dobrynin responded that Nicaragua is a small country that does not pose a threat to the U.S. The Secretary said in reply that he did not wish to argue the point, but that the Soviets should understand our view and take it into account.

—On Lebanon, the Secretary reiterated that we wish to see all foreign forces out of the country, and that the sooner they leave, the sooner our MNF forces could also leave. If the Soviets are concerned about MNF, they should know that we have no long-term plans for it, but there is a relationship between the role the MNF would have to play and the role of UNIFIL.

In the larger meeting, Deputy Secretary Dam, Under Secretary Eagleburger and Assistant Secretary Burt joined the Secretary, and Minister-Counselors Sokolov and Isakov joined Dobrynin. Five specific subject areas were discussed.

Human Rights. The Secretary raised three issues:

—On the Pentecostalists, the Secretary said we are following the families’ progress with their emigration applications very closely, but it is slow; he asked if Dobrynin had any information. Dobrynin said he had no specific information to provide officially, but he “had heard” that the families do not seem anxious to leave now that the Embassy has provided them with money. The Secretary said he understood one family is awaiting approval, and the other forms to apply.

—On CSCE, the Secretary said the Madrid process is at a critical point, and we want a satisfactory conclusion. We had thought there [Page 206] was some promise in Max Kampelman’s earlier discussions with the Soviets, but more recently the Soviets had become intransigent on the language of the NNA draft document. The Spanish had now made an initiative, and this might provide a way to break the deadlock. Dobrynin replied that we have put in two years of time and work in Madrid, and argued that the NNA document is not Soviet. The Secretary rejoined that it is still not good enough. Dobrynin urged that we “finish this nonsense.” The Secretary stressed that our proposals are on the table, and that improvements on human rights in the draft concluding document are needed. Dobrynin said he had not seen the Spanish initiative, but it was perhaps OK.

The Secretary raised the issues of Sakharov, Shcharanskiy and Jewish emigration, noting he had seen a number of American Jewish leaders in the previous week. Dobrynin responded merely that these were “internal matters.”

The Secretary then went over the series of meetings the Western Allies had just completed—the OECD Ministerial, the Williamsburg Summit and the NATO Meetings of Defense and Foreign Ministers.2 He stressed that these meetings demonstrated Western economic recovery and renewed growth, and that this will help not only Western economies but other economies too. On the security side and on East-West economic relations, he said, the meetings demonstrated the genuine view of the Western powers that they must maintain their cohesion and unity, and, specifically on INF, they demonstrated that behind their resolve to deploy lay a genuine desire to negotiate. On East-West economic relations, the focus was on controlling trade of direct military application; nobody wants economic warfare. The main point, the Secretary concluded, is that the West is strong and cohesive, on the one hand, and ready to negotiate, on the other.

Dobrynin said the Soviets had followed these meetings and read the Secretary’s SFRC testimony that week,3 and we should know the situation looks different to them. In the economic field, it seems to them that we are doing all we can to cut off East-West trade. The Secretary interjected that our objective relates to the security aspects of trade and in no sense implies a trade war with the Soviets. Dobrynin went on that the Secretary’s testimony seemed to imply a view that economic pressure would stop Soviet behavior the U.S. does not like. On the security side, the U.S. seemed to want military power not for [Page 207] defense but for foreign policy purposes, to use strength to impose its views on others.

The Secretary objected that our purpose is not to impose our views; conversely, the Soviets had made countries like Japan feel threatened with their SS–20 deployments. Dobrynin said the Soviets are willing to leave Japan in peace, but the U.S. seeks to militarize the Soviet Union’s eastern border area, and make it like NATO. This may be wrong; but the Williamsburg declaration, signed by a non-NATO power, does not make pretty reading. The Secretary reiterated that this does not result from a push by the U.S.; rather, the Japanese are worried by the SS–20’s. Dobrynin replied that if there were no U.S. forces in Asia, there would be no SS–20’s there. The Secretary reminded him that our military deployments are purely defensive. Dobrynin responded that one tragedy of history is that both sides believe this about their deployments. If we would take up the Soviet “proposal” to discuss arms control in Asia, they were prepared to talk about the issue.

The Secretary said the main point is that the West is determined to maintain its defenses, but also to lessen tensions and reduce armaments. Dobrynin asked what actions expressed this. The Secretary replied that he would be suggesting some at this meeting.

MBFR. After Ambassador Abramowitz joined the group, the Secretary began by noting that MBFR talks had lasted ten years. The President and Andropov had exchanged messages earlier in the year, and we are now prepared to respond. The two sides agree that we should seek reductions through a process leading to parity as the ultimate outcome. This will mean asymmetrical reductions. We think the principal task is verifying reductions to equal levels, putting in place a verification system that will result in the capacity to ensure correct data. In other words, the Secretary said, we are prepared to defer the problem of prior agreement on data if we can agree on adequate verification procedures. He suggested that we authorize our Vienna negotiators to explore this privately.

Dobrynin said he would report back, but had one point to make: we should begin with something practical, the small symbolic step of reducing 13,000 U.S. and 20,000 Soviet troops. He was not saying the Secretary’s idea was a bad one, but a small step like that would also help elsewhere in arms control negotiations. The Secretary replied that we should shift gears to verification, and in that context the idea of a small initial step was not significant although, in the context of a broader understanding, it could be the way to start the withdrawal process. Ambassador Abramowitz added that we are seeking not minor reductions, but a way to break the deadlock toward significant compromise. Dobrynin concluded that his points had been meant to be constructive.

[Page 208]

START. After Ambassador Rowny replaced Ambassador Abramowitz in the group, the Secretary said we have made some new decisions and would be putting our proposal on the table in Geneva, but the basic point is the President’s desire for real give-and-take in Geneva. Our decisions bear on four topics:

—We give highest priority to reductions in warheads.

—There must be reductions in destructive potential, and there are various ways to go about this.

—Concerning limitations on deployed missiles, we are ready to envisage higher levels than in our previous proposal.

—We are prepared to envisage equal limits on bombers and air-launched cruise missiles.

We now need a sharper focus and a more dynamic process, and we would like the Soviets to be more explicit and precise than they have been.

On confidence-building measures, the Secretary said we have put forward some proposals in START, and the Soviets have too. We should establish a working group in START that could consider the ideas of both sides.

Dobrynin said he did not have detailed instructions, but could make several general points. If the U.S. approach continued to single out Soviet land-based missiles, or sought direct throw-weight limits or highly restrictive sublimits like the 110 ceiling on heavy missiles, there would not be much progress. The Soviets are prepared to look at warhead limitations, but not to make substantial cuts in the major leg of their strategic forces. The Secretary replied that if the talks are to get anywhere there must be cuts in heavy missiles. The largest cuts would come through warhead limitations, but the Soviets had to understand that reductions in destructive potential, where there is a huge disparity in their favor, are important.

Bilateral Issues. The Secretary informed Dobrynin that the President is prepared to renew discussions leading toward openings of consulates in New York and Kiev, and to negotiate a new cultural agreement. If the Soviets respond positively, we could work out the modalities for discussion. Dobrynin said he would report this back to Moscow.

In the concluding private meeting, the Secretary reiterated that while each individual issue has its own importance, we have a broad agenda, and the overall signal we wish to make is that we are prepared to discuss that whole agenda seriously. Dobrynin finished with three broad points:

Gromyko’s speech at the Supreme Soviet June 16 dealt with U.S.-Soviet relations to an “unprecedented” extent.4

[Page 209]

Chernenko’s speech at the Central Committee Plenum June 14 laid heavy emphasis on the need to combat the President’s democracy initiative, as well as our statements about yellow rain and other objectionable Soviet activities: the Soviets view all this as an attempt to discredit the USSR.

Dobrynin dwelt at great length on the Soviet perspective on INF, and especially on the Pershing II “threat.” He made it sound as if this is the almost overwhelming Soviet preoccupation of the moment, and almost pleaded for us to put ourselves in their shoes, and see the situation as they see it. He concluded by suggesting that we need a kind of philosophical discussion on how the world looks to the two sides.

The Secretary concluded that he would be back in the U.S. and available for discussions and for Soviet responses to our proposals in early July.5

While the concluding private session was going on, Isakov asked Burt separately to confirm that when we said discussions on consulates, we had in mind Kiev and New York.6 Burt replied that the 1974 agree[Page 210]ment specifies “two or three” cities for new consulates, but we wish to discuss Kiev and New York. Isakov informed the U.S. side that the office building prepared for our use in Kiev is in use by the municipal authorities. They had pressed the U.S. on this issue last year, and received no definite answer. Simons recalled that last spring we had asked the Soviets to hold the building for our use, and were proceeding on the assumption that this had been done. Simons asked Isakov to ascertain whether, if our discussions were successful, that building would be made available to the U.S. Isakov said that in reporting the U.S. proposal he would say that the U.S. side remains interested in using that building.

For the Record: During the discussion on MBFR and START, the Secretary gave Dobrynin an inter-agency agreed “non-paper” on each subject. Copies of these “non-papers” are attached.7

  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, 1983 May–June, Mtgs. w/A. Dobrynin. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s office. The memorandum of conversation was approved by the Secretary in telegram Secto 7003 from the Secretary’s aircraft, June 23. The text printed here incorporates the changes approved in the telegram. Brackets are in the original. On June 20, Shultz sent the President a memorandum summarizing his conversation with Dobrynin. At the end of the memorandum, Shultz noted: “As I see it, by your decision we have now taken the initiative to move our dialogue forward on the basis of our agenda, and the ball is truly in the Soviet court. We cannot at this point predict how they will respond, but we are at least in a position to say we have undertaken a major effort.” (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (06/19/83–06/24/83)) Reagan initialed Shultz’s June 20 memorandum, indicating he saw it.
  2. The OECD Ministerial meeting took place in Paris from May 8 to 11. The G–7 Williamsburg Summit took place from May 28 to 30. The meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers was held in Paris from June 9 to 10. The NATO Defense Ministers met in Lisbon in late March.
  3. See Document 61.
  4. See Document 65.
  5. Shultz was on official travel in Asia and the Middle East, returning to Washington on July 9. In his personal notes for June 18, Dam wrote: “Dobrynin took all of this on board without too many comments and said that he would report to his government, with the assumption that he will be back to us after the Secretary returns from Southeast Asia. He did complain about our failure to understand how the Soviets look at the world and the fact that we insist on discrediting them in connection with such things as yellow rain.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records, Deputy Secretary Dam’s Official Files: Lot 85D308, Personal Notes of Deputy Secretary—Kenneth W. Dam—Oct. 1982–Sept. 1983)
  6. Shultz’s June 20 memorandum to Reagan provided additional details of Burt’s discussion: “Burt took up the following issues with Embassy Minister-Counselors Sokolov and Isakov:

    “—He gave them a short statement that the first launch of the Peacekeeper, a new type of ‘light’ intercontinental ballistic missile (under SALT II criteria) took place June 17, and pointed out that this notification parallels their notification of a new-type test last October.

    “—He urged the Soviets to take another look at Cap Weinberger’s communications confidence-building measures [see Document 38]; proposed that State and Defense experts join Art Hartman in Moscow for further discussions of these measures plus the idea of a multilateral convention against nuclear terrorism; and said we would be getting back soon with a proposal on timing.

    “—In responding to the Soviet proposal for meetings of scientists on ballistic missile defense, Burt said we believe such discussion must be on a government-to-government basis, given its policy and strategy implications, and proposed that it take place between official representatives in the established fora of START and SCC, augmented by experts as necessary.

    “—Burt informed the Soviets that the U.S. has approved extension of the Transportation Agreement for a six-month period, and would be proposing an exchange of notes that would register extension before the expiration date next week [see Document 63].” (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (06/19/83–06/24/83))

  7. MBFR Talking Points and a paper on START are attached but not printed.