19. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane) to President Reagan 1


  • Speaker O’Neill’s Meeting with Gorbachev

O’Neill, Michel, Rostenkowski and Conte met with Gorbachev last week for nearly four hours.2

Gorbachev began by reading a translation of your letter and saying how much he appreciates the correspondence. He said that he would wait for your full reply to his letter of March 24 before answering.3

On substantive issues Gorbachev was unyielding, though he said repeatedly that he wished to solve outstanding issues in a pragmatic manner and hoped for better relations. He was particularly vehement regarding SDI, characterizing it as part of an offensive strategy on our part, and threatening to deploy more offensive missiles if we go ahead. But he stated that the Soviets are serious about the Geneva talks, and put in a plug for his moratorium proposal.

Speaker O’Neill expressed confidence in your commitment to arms reductions and he and the other congressmen also raised trade and human rights issues. On the latter, Gorbachev said he would discuss the matter when the U.S. ratifies the International Convention on Human Rights, but did accept a list of cases offered by the Congressmen “to pass on to the proper authorities.”

Overall, the Speaker and his group spoke with one voice and discussed issues in a manner consistent with U.S. policy.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, US-USSR Summits, 1985–1986, Gorbachev Meeting (1/2). Secret. Sent for information. Prepared by Matlock. A copy was sent to Bush. A stamped notation indicates the President saw the memorandum on April 16. Although not mentioned in the text of the memorandum, McFarlane indicated that he attached as Tab A a copy of telegram 4621 from Moscow, April 10. The telegram was not attached to the copy of the memorandum printed here. Telegram 4621 transmitted a synopsis of the April 10 meeting between Gorbachev and O’Neill’s congressional delegation. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams N850005–0003) For information about the O’Neill congressional delegation to Moscow, see footnote 2, Document 15.
  2. Reference is to Congressman Silvio Conte (R–Massachusetts), Congressman Robert H. Michel (R–Illinois), Speaker of the House Thomas P. O’Neill (D–Massachusetts), and Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (D–Illinois).
  3. See Documents 10 and 15.