217. Note From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Ridgway) to Secretary of State Shultz1

Mr. Secretary:

Mark Palmer and Mark Parris had one of their informal sessions with the Soviet Embassy’s Sokolov Friday evening. Their memcon is attached.2

Sokolov’s claim that the Soviets tried to be helpful before the Berlin bombing and are trying now to prevent further incidents, while self-serving, bears following up.3 While I think it best to hold this information very closely, we will be in touch with Bob Oakley to see if we can pass data which would put the Soviets to the test.

Sokolov’s message that rescheduling the Shevardnadze visit will have to await the arrival of a new Soviet Ambassador confirms our sense that a summer summit is no longer in the cards. If we are to get the process back on track at all, however, we ought to pay attention to his entreaty to keep scheduled meetings on track. In the first instance, this means meeting our commitment to send Elliot Abrams to Moscow [Page 921] in mid-May, despite ARA’s preference to cancel or send a lower-ranking representative.4 You have a separate decision memo on that issue.

I’ve also attached a report from the British Embassy in Moscow which suggests that the decision to cancel the Shevardnadze visit was not an easy one, and that Gorbachev’s discomfort with Qadhafi is acute.5 This tracks with Sokolov’s own sense that Moscow is anxious to limit damage to the U.S.-Soviet relationship.

Rozanne L. Ridgway6
  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, 4D, 1986 Soviet Union April. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. On April 18, Palmer and Parris met with Sokolov in the bar at the Watergate Hotel from 6 until 8 p.m. The memorandum of conversation is attached but not printed.
  3. Reference is to the April 5 bombing of the La Belle disco in West Berlin. See Document 216.
  4. Abrams was tentatively scheduled to attend U.S.-Soviet talks in Moscow on Central America and the Caribbean.
  5. Attached but not printed.
  6. Ridgway signed “RR” above her typed signature.