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


  • Daniloff Case: Soviet Rejection of U.S. September 9 Proposal

In Ambassador Ridgway’s absence in another meeting, Soviet Minister-Counselor Sokolov urgently requested a private meeting with EUR Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Simons at 5:00 p.m. September 15. Reading from notes, Sokolov gave the Soviet response to our proposal to release Daniloff and trade Zakharov for dissidents, which Ridgway presented to Sokolov with your authorization on September 9.2

The Soviet response is as follows:

—First, we believe the Soviet proposal made to Secretary Shultz on September 10 (i.e. to remand both Daniloff and Zakharov to the custody of resident diplomats) has already brought about a positive outcome at this point.3 We proceed from the assumption that given a desire to solve problems rather than seek complications, mutually acceptable solutions can be searched for further on.

—Second, the U.S. proposal of September 9 is not acceptable to us. We feel that rather than alleviating it makes solutions more complicated. If the U.S. does not wish to search for solutions acceptable to both sides, then it should understand that it will take upon itself the responsibility for the possible consequences.

—Third, we stand for a responsible approach to Soviet-U.S. relations. The United States Government, we believe, is well aware of that. Literally every line of the letters of General Secretary Gorbachev to President Reagan proves that. Thus, in the existing situation as well, which is not of our making, we are prepared as before to seek jointly a mutually acceptable solution.

Simons said that he would transmit the message immediately to his authorities, but that he had the following preliminary reaction:

—He regretted this response.

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—It would have harmful consequences, for which the Soviet side would be responsible.

—Our proposal of September 9 was based precisely on the desire to find mutually acceptable solutions referred to in the Soviet response.

—Our proposal, morever, had precedent in U.S.-Soviet relations (Sokolov nodded), and it will not be understood why that precedent did not apply in present circumstances as well.

—The Soviet rejection of this proposal was inconsistent with the responsible approach to our relations mentioned in the response.

Sokolov said the Soviets remain ready to work with the U.S. for mutually acceptable solutions. Simons asked if he had any suggestions, since the U.S. had made a suggestion which the Soviets have now rejected. Sokolov said he did not.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Top Secret/Secret Sensitive Memorandum, Lot 91D257, Daniloff Detention in the USSR September 1986 (Yogurt). Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Simons on September 15; cleared by Ridgway. Parris initialed for Ridgway.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 276.
  3. See Document 276.