161. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Palmer) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • Meeting with the President: Gorbachev Follow-Up

Here are some thoughts from the plane about follow-up, and a checklist/card for your meeting with the President.2

Our overall objective should be to have something meaningful under way in all four areas of the relationship by the time of the next summit meeting.3

Setting a date would help to provide a framework within which to work. Therefore, it would be useful if you could obtain the President’s agreement to the general June–July period and to our working out with his schedulers and the Soviets a specific date.4

The key question is what process to set in motion within the USG and with the Soviets. We should sustain the momentum in both spheres achieved in Geneva.

With regard to the interagency process, Richard Perle and I had a long talk on the backup plane. As you know, he was constructive in the drafting exercise on the joint statement and says he wants to break through the distrust, logjams and tendency to end-run each other which has characterized State-Defense dealings on many US-Soviet issues.5 Obviously, this isn’t just a question of process; there must be a willingness to work substance in a productive manner. We came up with two suggestions which combine process and substance and which you might want to discuss with Bud and the President.

—On the nuclear and space talks, we suggest that you, Cap and Bud try meeting together with SACG representatives to break the frustrating [Page 725] problem of already locked-in and differing positions coming from the SACG to principals. The initial substantive focus would be on an NST strategy for the first six months of 1986. This could address how to move the Soviets off the two key obstacles in START and INF respectively: including only comparable systems, and excluding British and French systems. On SDI, our thought is that we focus on ways to communicate better to the Soviets about some of their concerns. One idea is to prepare a thoughtful paper and send it to Gorbachev, and also, when he comes to the U.S., to try to get him to sit still for a briefing with charts and all. (In addition, I personally think we should try to satisfy Gorbachev’s particular concern that space-based systems could strike objects on earth by offering to negotiate constraints. Fred Ikle tells me that our systems will not have this capability anyway.)

—On human rights and trade, Perle agrees with the general approach you offered to Shevardnadze in New York and is willing to develop some concrete incentives.6 We discussed removing the non-strategic, foreign policy controls on oil and gas technology. There are some other possibilities as well. My suggestion here is that you authorize Roz and me to work with Perle, Baldrige and Matlock to come up with a substantive plan for consideration by you and the President and for use in the confidential dialogue he now wants to launch with the Soviets.

These two suggestions would allow us to test whether we can enter into a more collegial and productive relationship with Defense as we prepare for the next summit.

On other arms control issues, I see the following next steps:

—On the Risk Reduction Centers, we need to select someone to conduct talks with the Soviets. Perle and I agree that the key qualification is “creativity” as there is nothing very definite in this Nunn-Warner concept.7

—We also should select someone to conduct our new dialogue on chemical weapons proliferation and get back to the Soviets to set a date. Ken Adelman is a possible candidate as he has a strong personal interest.

—On MBFR, we should get our initiative down on the table and try to develop some movement by the summit.

—On CDE, while we should try to get this wrapped up by the Summit, others seem to see this concluding just before the Vienna Review Conference in the fall.

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On regional issues, you mentioned a shared desire with Shevardnadze to get into more focussed and productive discussion. We could select perhaps two of the regional issues, have an early meeting between the two of you, then hold experts talks on the same issues, and possibly another session at your level, before the summit.

My personal candidates would be Southern Africa and Afghanistan: the first because it is the least sensitive and difficult for the two of us and Afghanistan because it is, in some ways, the most important. We’ve also had more experts-level meetings on these subjects in the past.

This raises the question of setting and timing of your next meeting with Shevardnadze. Having your meetings in Moscow and Washington makes sense, as this allows access to Gorbachev who clearly makes their decisions, and the two leaders should be directly involved in preparations for their next meeting. (It is Shevardnadze’s turn to come to Washington next.) At the same time, there might be some advantage to using your trip to Europe next month (or a quick trip in January) generally to sustain momentum and to launch the regional discussion. One possibility would be a relaxed weekend or a day in the English countryside at Chevening at the outset of your trip. Another possibility would be for Shevardnadze to join you in Budapest (the Hungarians secretly aspire to become the “Switzerland of the East” and just hosted CSCE’s Cultural Forum).

On the bilateral agenda, there are three items:

—The Civil Air talks should be wrapped up shortly.8

—We will need to push ahead firmly on the President’s people-to-people initiatives. This requires that we get each side’s representatives together in December if the Soviets are ready. In our joint statement, we agreed on a number of ideas and that the leaders will review “resulting programs” at their next meeting.

—The fusion project also requires that we get our representatives together soon or the momentum will be lost.9

Mark Palmer
  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, 1985 Nov. 22, Mtg. w/ the Pres. Secret; Sensitive. A typed notation in the top right-hand corner reads: “Prepared 21 November on board back-up aircraft for meeting, 2:00 p.m., 22 November.” Throughout the memorandum, there is underlining by an unknown hand. In his diary on November 22, Reagan wrote: “George Shultz came in after the Cabinet meeting. The meeting was for both of us to report on the Geneva trip.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. II: November 1985–January 1989, p. 543) No substantive record of the meeting was found.
  2. Attached but not printed is the undated “Checklist Gorbachev Follow-up.”
  3. An unknown hand wrote “ok” in the right-hand margin.
  4. An unknown hand circled the word “June,” wrote “latter part” in the right-hand margin, and drew a line from it to “June.”
  5. See Document 142.
  6. See Documents 99 and 100.
  7. See footnote 4, Document 135.
  8. An unknown hand wrote an asterisk at the end of the sentence and added “wrapped up today” in the margin.
  9. An unknown hand wrote “DOE” at the end of the point.