18. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan 1


  • My Meeting Today with Dobrynin

Dobrynin came in at his request today and presented a proposal to hold meetings on regional problems. The proposal is attached and is presumably related to your proposal for regular discussions on regional topics made in your UN General Assembly speech last fall.2 As you can see from the text, the Soviets are very specific about topics, dates and venues.

Dobrynin also gave me the original signed version of Gorbachev’s letter to you of March 24.3 He asked if the letter being carried by Speaker O’Neill constituted a response, and I replied that there would be a full response in good time.4

Dobrynin also asked about Bud’s press briefing today, in particular about the distinction made between “meetings” and “summits.”5 He asked if this had some special significance in relation to your invitation to Gorbachev. I said that Bud was making the distinction between the kind of meeting two heads of state could have if they were both attending some other meeting and had a discussion together, on the one hand, or, on the other, an especially arranged and carefully prepared meeting. I also pointed to Bud’s emphasis on viewing relationships between countries as a process in which meetings between heads of state serve as markers in the flow of that process. Dobrynin is leaving on Friday, April 19, for consultations in Moscow and asked to come in to see me just before his departure. I told him that we could get together next Wednesday or Thursday.

I will have further comments in the next few days on their ideas of how to implement your proposal for regional dialogue.

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Soviet Proposal for Meetings on Regional Problems6

To continue and to develop the practice of holding bilateral exchanges of opinions on the level of experts on regional problems, in which, as we understand, the American side is interested too, we propose to arrange meetings of our representatives to discuss the following issues.

1. To resume exchanges of opinions on Southern Africa in order to consider the state of affairs pertaining to the implementation of corresponding UN resolutions on the granting of independence to Namibia, and ensuring the security of Angola. Such a meeting could be held in Washington or in any third country in late April.

2. To discuss the situation in the Far East and in the South-East Asia. These two themes could rather be discussed separately. Such an exchange of views is meant to take place in Moscow in the second half of May.

3. To exchange views on the situation in Central America. This might be done in Moscow or in a third country in the beginning of June.

4. To continue exchanging the views on the Middle East settlement, the situation in the region, including Lebanon, and on the Iran-Iraq conflict. This meeting could be held in Washington in the second half of June.

5. To resume the discussion of issues related to the situation around Afghanistan. We suggest to do this next July in Moscow between the U.S. Embassy and the U.S.S.R. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It would be advisable, in our view, to conduct the exchange of opinions on the level on which, for instance, recent consultations on the Middle East were held, or through the Soviet Embassy in Washington and the American Embassy in Moscow correspondingly.

If our suggestions are acceptable to the American side, appropriate practical details related to the meetings of experts could be worked out in the very near future.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Chronological File, 1980–1986, Matlock Chron April 1985 (4/6). Secret; Sensitive.
  2. In his address to the UN General Assembly on September 24, 1984, President Reagan stated: “I propose that our two countries agree to embark on periodic consultations at policy level about regional problems.” His address is printed in Public Papers: Reagan, 1984, Book II, pp. 1355–1361; see also Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 206.
  3. See Document 10.
  4. See Document 15.
  5. Reference is to McFarlane’s briefing in Santa Barbara, California; see David Hoffman, “President Clarifies Position on Summit,” Washington Post, April 11, 1985, p. A1.
  6. No classification marking. This is the unofficial translation provided by the Soviet Embassy.