292. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S.

    • Secretary Shultz
    • Ambassador Ridgway
    • D. Zarechnak, Interpreter
  • USSR

    • Foreign Minister Shevardnadze
    • Ambassador Bessmertnykh
    • Ambassador Dubinin
    • P. Palazhchenko, Interpreter

After some preliminary conversation about tennis, the Secretary told Shevardnadze that he had been to Washington and had talked at length with the President.2 He wished to tell Shevardnadze the President’s reaction to what Shevardnadze had proposed. He had told the President what Shevardnadze had said about the Soviet UN Mission personnel, and that this was an especially important issue. He had indicated to the President what the Foreign Minister had told him, i.e., that the number of UN Mission personnel was already below the number that the U.S. had indicated, and that this was correct in accordance with U.S. information. He had told the President that Shevardnadze had said that approximately ten of the people on the list had either already returned to Moscow or were in the process of returning in the normal course of rotation. He also had told the President that, recognizing the U.S. reply to the Soviet request that the deadline be extended past October 1 by 14 days on condition that the present problems would be resolved, Shevardnadze had proposed that he and the Secretary discuss the situation in Reykjavik, where Shevardnadze would have more information on the people on the list, i.e., on those [Page 1222] people who will have been rotated at the Mission. The Secretary had also told the President that he had felt in his meeting with the Foreign Minister that Shevardnadze had been especially concerned about two or three people on the list whom he felt had not been properly identified. He had indicated that Shevardnadze had proposed that he and the Secretary discuss the situation in Reykjavik and resolve it there, bearing in mind the background indicated.

Shevardnadze interjected that it wasn’t so much a case of improper identification, as the fact that he personally knew several of the people, whereas he did not know the others.

The Secretary confirmed that he had indicated to the President that Shevardnadze had a special concern about two or three of the people whom he knew personally. The Secretary asked if this was a proper description of the current state of affairs.

Shevardnadze nodded.

The Secretary continued that the President had said that if the other aspects of the problem could be resolved, he would go along with the Soviet side’s proposal, which for now would make that issue one which could be dealt with. With regard to the other category of issues, he had passed on to the President the respective positions of the two sides, i.e., that Daniloff would be released and Zakharov would be released 24 hours later, both without trial. The U.S. could say what it wished publicly about Zakharov, and if it did so, the Soviet side would publicly say what it wished about Daniloff.

The Secretary continued that he had told the President that the U.S. position was that Orlov and his wife, along with four or five of the people on the list submitted, should be released simultaneously with Zakharov, and that the Soviet position was that Orlov and his wife should be released ten or fifteen days after Zakharov. The other names on the list would be personally reviewed by Shevardnadze, and he personally would make a judgment on them on the basis of their particular cases, appropriate Soviet law, and the circumstances involved, and indicate a decision to the U.S. side at a later date.

The Secretary continued that the President had indicated that we could not live with a time gap between the release of Zakharov and Orlov. The President felt that if this were not done simultaneously, it would be difficult for him to go on to deal with other issues. Therefore, he asked the Secretary to tell Shevardnadze that he was ready to go along with the Foreign Minister’s proposal concerning the four or five other people. The Secretary indicated that he had told the President that he had gotten to know Shevardnadze during their meetings, and that Shevardnadze had looked him in the eye and had told him in good faith that he would look at the list, and the Secretary believed him. The President had accepted these assurances, provided that the [Page 1223] Soviet side would release Orlov at the same time as Zakharov was released. But the question of simultaneous release was of key importance to the President, and the Secretary wished to say that he could appreciate this and shared this view.

Shevardnadze remarked that this was what the President thought.

The Secretary said that he wanted to repeat that the President had gone along with several suggestions of the Soviet side, except for one.

Shevardnadze asked if there had been any change on the Presidential decision to meet with the General Secretary on October 11 and 12.

The Secretary replied that there had been no change, assuming that the present issues were resolved. It would not be wise to meet in Iceland otherwise. He added that the two sides had agreed that that meeting would be described as a preparatory meeting for the summit in the U.S., which would hopefully take place in 1986.

Shevardnadze replied that out of this package, he felt that the preparatory meeting of the two leaders should be put on the top of the list. The General Secretary viewed this as the most important thing, where the two leaders would give instructions to their assistants and delegations about the main issues, i.e., in area of arms control, which they thought would be the most promising for resolution. Other issues could also be discussed, of course, such as bilateral issues and regional issues, and the General Secretary indicated this in his letter.3 After this preparatory meeting, and on the basis of the instructions given, agreements could then be signed during the Washington visit.

The Secretary indicated that this was the U.S. view as well. Moreover, he felt that between the present time and the meeting in Reykjavik, the people on both sides in Geneva should be pushed as much as possible to make the most of the time available. For example, a lot of progress had been made in the area of INF. With respect to the outstanding issues, e.g., the question of duration, the U.S. had proposed a phrase from an earlier Soviet draft. With regard to Asia, Shevardnadze had indicated that the General Secretary had had some ideas, but nothing specific had yet been laid out. So it would be useful if these specific ideas were presented in Geneva, so that the delegations could work on them and prepare them for examination in Reykjavik.

The Secretary continued that the U.S. had put many proposals on the table concerning verification, and the Soviet side had said many things which were encouraging. The U.S. and the Soviet side had reached agreement on the question of verification in Stockholm, and [Page 1224] this had been very encouraging. So a big push ought to be made in this area, since it was one of the very important ones.

The Secretary continued that he and the Foreign Minister had not come to grips with the question of shorter range INF systems during their meeting in Washington. As the Secretary had indicated, the U.S. felt that these weapons ought to be frozen until further decisions had been made.

The Secretary continued that these were the types of areas where progress could be made. So the delegations in Geneva should work hard at these things during this week and the coming week in order to have this in hand for the leaders to resolve at their meeting.

The Secretary agreed with what Shevardnadze had said about the importance of the Reykjavik meeting, and he hoped that Shevardnadze could see that the U.S. side wanted to do as much as possible in order to get ready for the preparatory meeting as well as it could. In this, the Secretary was following the results of the process which Shevardnadze had proposed, i.e., that the two sides work hard during the summer. This work had produced a more fruitful meeting between the two of them. And just as this work had helped their meeting, he thought that the work in Geneva could help the meeting of the two leaders in Iceland.

Shevardnadze remarked that he did not think that he and the Secretary should speak of the instructions which the leaders would give to their delegations. In principle, the two of them had had a dialogue and had touched on questions which they agreed were promising, such as the issue about the duration of the INF agreement, the duration of the ABM treaty, etc. These things had been indicated in the letter of the General Secretary, and Shevardnadze did not think that he and the Secretary ought to decide these things at present. Each of the sides would come to the meeting with its own thoughts and ideas. The two leaders would give the Foreign Ministers and the delegations a push, and Shevardnadze believed that progress would be possible in at least two or three areas.

The Secretary indicated that he agreed with the Foreign Minister, but his thought was that the delegations should not sleep in Geneva, excusing themselves by saying that the meeting was only two weeks away.

The Secretary continued that it was his personal hope, and he had heard the General Secretary speak of this, as had Shevardnadze and the President, that the world would be much better off without nuclear weapons. So if the two leaders felt this to be so important, a way ought to be found to achieve this (he indicated that he was aware of the General Secretary’s statement of January 15), i.e., to take practical steps to move more rapidly to achieve this aim.

[Page 1225]

Shevardnadze replied that he agreed that a great deal of work needed to be done in Geneva. Despite the fact that agreement had not been reached, and deep differences remained between the positions of the two sides, both sides had produced various proposals, and compromises were possible. A push needed to be given, the type of push which neither he nor the Secretary could give, but which demanded a higher level political will, that is, a decision of the two leaders. Shevardnadze repeated that he considered that the main achievement of his meeting with the Secretary had been the decision on the meeting between the two leaders.

The Secretary agreed.

Shevardnadze continued that in all of his meetings in New York, the main question which had been raised was whether or not there would be a meeting between the President and the General Secretary.

The Secretary confirmed that this had also been a major topic at his meetings, but he felt that it was a question which was deeper than simply a question of a meeting. It was a desire to see a lessening of tension and a more constructive relationship between the two countries, which would have a rippling effect in many ways. It was also a question of nuclear weapons hanging over the heads of these nations. Even if a country did not possess any nuclear weapons and was not geographically near the Soviet Union or the U.S., it could see that if there were a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and USSR, the entire world would be hurt, if not decimated.

Shevardnadze said that if shortly after the Geneva summit, there had been arguments about the fruitfulness of the meeting, now the two countries, as well as everyone else, thought that the upcoming meeting should produce concrete results.

The Secretary agreed.

Shevardnadze continued that he felt that the preparatory meeting between the principals would lead to areas of accord culminating in the signature of important agreements, at least in some areas, in Washington, and this would be an historic event. It would open the way for the future visit of the President to the Soviet Union, where additional achievements could be recorded. So it would be a step-by-step process, and progress would be made all along the way.

The Secretary replied that he agreed with the Foreign Minister’s concept. He thought that before the beginning of both the summit in the U.S. and in the USSR, agreements should be achieved on important issues, so that the summits themselves would ratify these agreements. However, he also felt that questions which had not been resolved should be discussed at the summits which would give additional leadership and push to the negotiators, so that important things could be resolved at subsequent meetings.

[Page 1226]

Shevardnadze replied that the negotiating process was this kind of a process, i.e., this was what agencies such as the Foreign Ministries existed for.

The Secretary remarked that he was glad there was something for them to do.

Shevardnadze wanted to ask a question, i.e., if there were no agreement on the other issues, did this mean that there would be no meeting between the leaders?

The Secretary replied that he thought that it would be difficult for the meeting to be a fruitful one unless these issues were resolved first.

Shevardnadze agreed that these matters needed to be resolved in order that the leaders could concentrate on the main issues.

The Secretary recalled that the Foreign Minister had said that the two of them would not be worth their salt if they would not be able to resolve this issue, so that their leaders could go on from there.

Shevardnadze confirmed this and added that their leaders might even say that, seeing that the Foreign Ministers could not agree on nuclear arms, space weapons or on Daniloff and Zakharov, who needed them?

The Secretary confirmed that this was a danger, and that he could perhaps return in that case to California, and the Foreign Minister could return to Georgia. And perhaps they might even be happier there.

Shevardnadze confirmed that he did have a residence which belonged to his father in Georgia.

The Secretary said that he had forgotten the melody, but by the next meeting he would recall the tune to “Georgia on My Mind” and sing it to the Foreign Minister.

Shevardnadze remarked that he wished to repeat that the question of the Soviet UN Mission personnel had been artificially created. In the first place, these people were not spies. First of all, there had been no proof of this, and there would be none. Secondly, even if they were all spies, why was this move made on the day before the scheduled meeting between the Foreign Ministers, which was to prepare a summit? So both in its essence and in its form, this issue was a contrived one. Shevardnadze did not believe that the State Department had been involved in this decision. He believed that the State Department truly wanted an improvement of Soviet-American relations. But someone who was not interested in this had thought of it.

Shevardnadze continued that to now make the conclusion out of all of this that the U.S. is making concessions and that the President is being magnanimous in meeting the interests of the Soviet side was naive. It was the Soviet side that was making concessions. A scenario of retaliatory steps had been prepared, a very serious one. All that was [Page 1227] needed to put it into force would be a signal from Shevardnadze. But the General Secretary had indicated that the Soviet side should wait until the heads of government would meet.

Shevardnadze realized that there were people in the U.S. who were sincerely interested in improving Soviet-American relations, and that we ought to make it easier for them. The General Secretary did not wish to disrupt the summit meeting. Perhaps the Foreign Minister did not have to indicate to the U.S. side how many people on the list had left, and how many would leave and the fact that some would leave due to normal rotation. Other issues could be decided at the meeting of the heads of state or at the level of Foreign Ministers. So there had been no compromises on the U.S. side. The U.S. actions were illegal. But it was good that a mutually acceptable solution was found. Shevardnadze felt that the Secretary’s personal involvement had been very important.

Shevardnadze continued that the Soviet side had said that the cases of Daniloff and Zakharov were similar. The U.S. side said that it had proof that Zakharov was a spy, but the Soviet side was not convinced of this, and said that he was an honest citizen. On the other hand, the Soviet side had indicated that it had proof about Daniloff, and it was not coincidental that the President had referred to a possible death penalty for Daniloff in his UN speech.4

The Secretary interjected that this was said in reference to the penalty given for espionage in accordance with Soviet law.

Shevardnadze replied that the President must realize that such things were not done without appropriate proof in civilized countries, and although the President did not like the Soviet Union, he must consider it civilized. Shevardnadze again referred to the President’s phrase as indicative of the realization of the strict punishment which could be given on the basis of Soviet law.

The Secretary again interjected that what the President did know was that the U.S. Government did not have Daniloff working for it, had not given him any tasks, and was not using him in any way. So, regardless of what he had or had not done, he was not an agent and was not engaged in gathering information for the U.S. Government, which was the U.S. definition of espionage.

Shevardnadze replied that this was a different matter. The Soviet side had different evidence. He repeated that although the two sides were in a similar situation, the Soviet side had made concessions. Zakharov would be released 24 hours after Daniloff. Shevardnadze felt that this was not a big issue, but this was not easy from the point of [Page 1228] view of government prestige. He mentioned the Secretary’s reference to the fact that it was important what people would say about the President’s decision. But it was also important what the Soviet people would say. The Soviet Government had said that the U.S. had taken illegal steps with regard to Soviet UN Mission personnel.

Shevardnadze continued that although some Soviet citizens had returned to the Soviet Union, no retaliatory steps had been taken. People would ask why this was so. They would ask the General Secretary and others. They would ask why Zakharov was released 24 hours after Daniloff. Why had the Soviet side made all the concessions?

Shevardnadze continued that the main thing was that all of this had been agreed to, and of primary importance was the fact that a meeting between the two leaders had been arranged. Then, suddenly a new ultimatum had been given, i.e., the release of Orlov and five others. This was artificial. Someone wished to show that the U.S. side had won, that it had brought the Soviets to their knees. But in order to achieve the main goal and to comply with the wishes of the Soviet, the American and the other nations of the world, the Soviet side had gone along with all of this.

The Secretary interjected that the U.S. side did not wish to bring the Soviet side to its knees. This would not be good for either the U.S. or the USSR. He had listened very carefully in Geneva to the General Secretary, and he thought that the General Secretary had shown a great deal of wisdom when he had said, in speaking of arms control, that it would not be good for either side to make a deal that would be unfair, since such a deal would tend to quickly unravel. The Secretary also knew from his experience in business that if in working with a customer or a supplier, too hard a bargain was driven, one would come to regret it later. So there was no desire to do that in the present situation.

The Secretary continued that he and the President wished to resolve the present situation in order to move on to other issues. The President had accepted the Soviet side’s proposals with one exception. Unfortunately, there were news people who only thought in concepts of who won and who lost.

Shevardnadze interjected that it was not only news people who thought that way.

The Secretary continued that he felt that the world was inhabited by people who wanted to solve problems and those that wanted to create them. He felt that he and the Foreign Minister were among those who wished to solve problems.

Shevardnadze agreed. But he indicated that he did not want to deviate from the discussion of this problem. Why was the question of Orlov introduced? From the beginning, the two sides had agreed that [Page 1229] the issue of the UN Mission personnel was a separate issue, as were the issues of Daniloff and Zakharov. This applied to Orlov as well. But if the release of Orlov and Zakharov was to be simultaneous, then these actions would not be independent. The Secretary must understand that this was a question of national prestige. If the two issues were separate, then the question of releasing Orlov after ten or twelve days would be no problem. The issue of national prestige would not arise.

Shevardnadze continued that among the options which had been considered on the Soviet was to leave all of these issues unresolved until the meeting between the President and the General Secretary, but he agreed with the Secretary that this ought not to be done. In this case, both of them would be viewed as helpless since they had not been able to resolve the issue in the 22 or 24 hours that they had discussed it. He felt that it was not important whether it was a matter of ten or eight days (or perhaps twelve), compared to the major decision about a meeting between the two heads of state.

Shevardnadze continued that the Soviet side had made a significant concession on the first issue. It had also made a concession on the second issue. On the third issue, it had added Orlov, which was more than a major concession. With regard to the additional five or seven names, he had promised that if there was a basis for their release, it would be done.

Shevardnadze continued that agreement had been reached on the main thing, and that he would regret it if the timing for Orlov’s release would stand in the way. For example, what if Orlov had a fever? The Secretary had indicated that he had no flexibility on this matter. Shevardnadze might be able to shorten the time period by two or three days, but could not do any more. He had given the Secretary all of the options.

The Secretary said that he wished to make one proposal. Perhaps the Foreign Minister had no flexibility on this, but he wanted to say the following. At the present time, the situation was that there was agreement that Daniloff would be released and that Zakharov would be released 24 hours later. The timing of Orlov’s release was unresolved.

The Secretary wished to make the following operational proposal. He knew that there was an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Dulles Tuesday morning.5 The Soviet side could put Mr. & Mrs. Daniloff, together with Mr. & Mrs. Orlov, on that flight. When the flight would arrive at Dulles, Zakharov could be waiting in a lounge to board that plane, and there could be a trade. Zakharov could board the Aeroflot flight, and Daniloff and Orlov could get off of it. In this way, there [Page 1230] would be no time gap between the release of Daniloff and Zakharov, and there would be no time gap between the release of Orlov.

Shevardnadze replied that this would not change anything. The main problem was still the timing of Orlov’s release.

The Secretary replied that it would change the sequence of the Daniloff/Zakharov release, which he thought might be helpful to the Soviet side, just as the change in the Orlov release would be helpful to the U.S. side.

Shevardnadze replied that this would not change anything. The main thing was that Orlov would not be released at the same time as Zakharov. If these things were independent issues, they should be resolved independently. The two sides should not add anything to the resolution of the Zakharov and Daniloff cases. The Secretary had agreed this with the President, and Shevardnadze had agreed this with Moscow. The 24-hour time gap had been agreed to. If the two sides agreed in principle that Orlov would be released subsequently, tomorrow or the day after the U.S. could hold a press conference and could say that a decision had been taken to release Orlov at a later date. Shevardnadze remarked parenthetically that the American public apparently would be very happy to receive Orlov.

The Secretary replied that he might actually become a problem for the U.S.

The Secretary then said that he wished to describe the current situation as he saw it, and also add something. On day one, i.e., on Monday, Daniloff would be released. On Tuesday, Zakharov would be released and the U.S. could say what it wished about Orlov. It would say that a date had been agreed on Orlov’s release, as well as the procedure for it. Obviously, this should be a few days before the meeting in Reykjavik, to have this out of the way by then. The Secretary asked Shevardnadze if this was a reasonable interpretation of Shevardnadze’s proposal, with the addition of an indication of a specific date.

Shevardnadze repeated the Secretary’s suggestion about announcing a date, for clarification.

The Secretary said that Shevardnadze had indicated that it was important for the Soviet side that Orlov depart later, and that the U.S. could then announce at a press conference that it was agreed that Orlov would be released and that the U.S. would welcome him.

Shevardnadze agreed.

The Secretary repeated that he had added mention of a specific date to what Shevardnadze had proposed. He thought that the question of Daniloff, Orlov, and Zakharov ought to be resolved at least two or three days before the meeting at Reykjavik. The question of the Soviet UN personnel would still need to be discussed between Shevardnadze [Page 1231] and the Secretary, but the other issues would need to be resolved by then. Additionally, Shevardnadze had given his word that he would look at the list of Soviet citizens in the USSR presented by the U.S. side, but the Secretary would not say anything about this publicly. The U.S. side would wait for Shevardnadze’s decision.

Shevardnadze confirmed that such an approach would be acceptable, and could now say that all issues had been resolved satisfactorily before the meeting of the heads of state.

The Secretary started to look at specific dates. He suggested that Daniloff could be released tomorrow, i.e., the 29th, and then Zakharov would be released on the following day. When the U.S. released Zakharov, it would also make a public statement about Orlov and say that Orlov would be released on October 7, i.e., one week after Zakharov. This would be two days before the President’s departure for Iceland. He added that Ambassador Ridgway had just indicated to him that there was an Aeroflot flight leaving Moscow for Washington on September 30, and perhaps Zakharov could be put on that plane. The Secretary wasn’t sure about what flights were leaving on Monday from Moscow. Perhaps the U.S. could send in a military plane.

Shevardnadze mentioned the problem of the time difference between New York and Moscow, but indicated that what the Secretary had proposed was basically acceptable.

The Secretary confirmed that there were eight hours difference, and suggested that the two sides begin work immediately. The U.S. would begin to process Zakharov’s release the following day.

The Secretary continued that in order to have an announcement of this during working hours in the two countries, this could be accomplished if the announcement were made at 9:00 a.m. Washington time and 5:00 p.m. Moscow time. This would leave one day for going through the procedure for releasing Daniloff in Moscow. On Tuesday, Zakharov would be released, and the U.S. would make a statement about Orlov. This would be at 5:00 p.m. Moscow time, and the Soviet side could say what it wished about this, and could put Zakharov on the Aeroflot flight if it wished to do so. There would be no interference from the U.S. side.6

[Page 1232]

The Secretary thought that one other thing should be done, i.e., by Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, each of the sides should approach the Government of Iceland independently about hosting the meeting between the heads of state. Then on Wednesday, October 1, there could be a simultaneous announcement at 9:00 a.m. Washington time and 5:00 p.m. Moscow time about a preparatory meeting in Reykjavik.

Ambassador Dubinin interjected that the news program “Vremya” comes on at 9:00 p.m.

The Secretary said that he felt that it would be useful to have a short common statement, along the lines that President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev agreed to meet on October 11 and 12 in Reykjavik, and that the meeting would be a preparatory one to plan for the summit in the U.S. He handed the U.S. draft to Bessmertnykh.

Shevardnadze indicated that he could agree in principle to the indication of a date.

Bessmertnykh remarked that 9:00 a.m. was too early.

The Secretary thought that the details could be left to Ambassadors Ridgway and Bessmertnykh, including the details of Orlov’s release. But these were technical matters, and could be resolved.

Shevardnadze agreed, but there was one issue which he wanted to agree in principle. He and the Secretary would be meeting with the press either on Monday or on Tuesday, depending on how they had agreed, like it had been done in Washington where both of them had given a press conference at 6:00 p.m. The content of their remarks would be different, but the basic facts would be the same.

The Secretary remarked that the Minister had a good point, and this also argued for a Monday/Tuesday release schedule, because if it were done this way, an announcement could be made before Shevardnadze’s departure from the U.S.

Shevardnadze agreed.

The Secretary said that the meeting at Reykjavik would be the next thing announced, but this was a different matter.

Shevardnadze said that he could not refrain from mentioning the meeting. Since the dates had not yet been agreed with Iceland, but the fact of the meeting had been agreed, the two sides could say that the President and the General Secretary had agreed to meet in the near future, without specifying a date, and the Soviet side had a draft statement on this which was similar to the one the Secretary had read from.

The Secretary asked Shevardnadze when he was planning to leave the United States.

Shevardnadze replied that it was 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. But their principal news program came on at 9:00 p.m. Moscow time, i.e., 1:00 [Page 1233] p.m. New York time. Therefore, his press conference would need to be held at noon New York time at the latest. The place for the meeting between the heads of state could be announced later. This might even be better. Shevardnadze was concerned about security if this were announced two weeks in advance. The main thing was that agreement had been reached about a meeting. The U.S. formulation was basically satisfactory.

The Secretary remarked that if the place was not indicated, speculation would be rampant. Also, two weeks was not such a long time to make preparations. Both sides had advance teams which worked well together in Geneva, but they would still need to look around, find the most suitable facility, and so on. The Government of Iceland would need to clear some hotels and do similar things. So the more time there was to prepare for the meeting, the better. So the Secretary felt that the place of the meeting should be announced. He could not see that the Icelandic authorities would not agree to it, but they should be asked.

Shevardnadze indicated that the Soviet side would approach the Government of Iceland tomorrow morning, and would ask them for a quick reply. In all likelihood, the Icelandic Government would reply quickly, and this would permit an announcement on Tuesday in the morning about all of the things which had been agreed to. This would sound serious and convincing.

The Secretary agreed that the two sides should try to do this. He would need to get the President’s agreement, but he believed that he would be able to do this. Then sometime on Monday the two countries could approach Iceland about the meeting and hopefully receive a reply by Tuesday. He felt that there was 90 percent certainty of this.

Shevardnadze felt it was 99 percent certain.

The Secretary agreed. He then indicated that the U.S. side would like to see three events. On Monday at 9:00 or 11:00 a.m., it would be announced in Washington that Daniloff was being released, and he would leave the USSR. On Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. or so, the U.S. would announce the release of Zakharov and would say that Orlov would be released one week later. The U.S. and the USSR could say whatever it wished on that score. At 11:00 a.m., the Foreign Minister would have a press conference at which he would describe everything that had been agreed to, and the meeting between the heads of state would also be announced in Washington and Moscow. The Foreign Minister could mention it at his press conference, and the Secretary could as well. Then all of this could be accomplished before the Foreign Minister left the U.S.

Shevardnadze said that he envisioned a scenario where there would be a meeting with the press tomorrow at which it would be announced that agreement had been reached on Daniloff and Zakharov. It was [Page 1234] agreed that the U.S. could say what it wished on Orlov. It was agreed what the two sides would do about the Soviet UN contingents. In principle, agreement had been reached on the meeting of heads of state. All this could be said tomorrow. The place of the meeting could be indicated the day after tomorrow or at another time as a separate item. Then all of the events, including the release of Daniloff, Zakharov, and Orlov and everything else, would take place after these announcements. Shevardnadze did not see anything inconvenient for either side in such an approach. This kind of approach had been agreed with Moscow with the General Secretary. For any other approach, Shevardnadze would need to cable Moscow tonight, and this would delay things.

The Secretary said that he did not think that he could agree with such an approach. There were three or maybe four independent events. The U.S. felt that these things should occur one by one and not all at once. The first event would be that Daniloff would be released and would come home. The second event would be that 24 hours later Zakharov would be released and would go home, and the U.S. would indicate what would happen with Orlov, i.e., that he would be released one week later. The U.S. side felt that it would be desirable to handle these personal issues separately, even if there were only a one or two hour lag. Then the announcement about Iceland, if it had been pinned down by then, could be made at the time of the Minister’s press conference on Tuesday, at which time the Minister could say all that he wished.

The Secretary wished to say that he still needed to clear Shevardnadze’s proposal on Orlov with the President, but he felt that it was a sensible one, and that he would have no problem in doing this. He would call the President tonight, and meanwhile, Ambassadors Ridgway and Bessmertnykh could work on a text so that everything would be clear and there would be no misunderstandings.

Bessmertnykh asked what would happen if the U.S. side announced the release of Daniloff, and the press would ask about Zakharov.

Ambassador Dubinin also asked what the U.S. would reply to any questions about a summit.

The Secretary said that he would say that the information being presented concerned Daniloff, and the press should hang around.

Shevardnadze indicated that he had not thought that any difficulties would arise in connection with the Soviet scenario, which he had cleared with Moscow the previous day. Perhaps both sides could wait an extra day. It was important to decide how to present the case publicly.

[Page 1235]

Bessmertnykh added there would be no time to get this accomplished by 9:00 a.m. the following day.

Shevardnadze indicated that if he were not to mention the summit, he needed time to get agreement on this course of action, and this might put things off by one or two days. He repeated that he had thought that the Soviet approach would be acceptable, indicating solution of all issues, including the question of the meeting of heads of state, and everyone in the U.S. and in the Soviet Union would welcome it. The Soviet side had thought of all possible options, including those it believed would not be acceptable to the President, but had not expected that there would be any objection to the one Shevardnadze had described. Perhaps things could be put off until Tuesday. Then agreement could be obtained from Iceland, and Shevardnadze could address at least the Soviet press, possibly without the U.S. press if the U.S. side so desired. He would then relate everything that had happened. The U.S. side could then announce Daniloff separately as it wished.

Shevardnadze indicated that perhaps the following option might be used. Agreement could be announced about a meeting without an indication of place. This was often done in international practice, and would not offend anyone. Otherwise, the decision might have to be put off. He was not saying that there would be no decision. But it would be difficult to delay his visit to Canada. As it was, he would probably have to cut back his stay in Canada and Mexico to return more quickly to the Soviet Union.

The Secretary remarked that his Africa trip would have to go down the drain, but this might be for the good.

Shevardnadze remarked that when people heard of the meeting between the President and the General Secretary, everything else would take second place.

The Secretary said that he would like to propose the following. The two sides had agreed on the content and sequence of the events and on the preparatory meeting in Iceland. They were struggling over how to announce this and were not sure how fast it could be done, i.e., Ambassador Bessmertnykh did not think Daniloff could be processed by 9:00 a.m. So the two sides should work at this, and he would have to clear it with the President, which he felt he could do. The Secretary realized that the Foreign Minister wished to mention Iceland before leaving the U.S. The U.S., on the other hand, wished to mention the meeting in Iceland separately, after the decisions on the individuals. The U.S. did not want to mix these things. Therefore, the staff people should work hard to try to arrive at a sequence that would fit both the Minister’s schedule and the desires of the U.S. side. Perhaps in Moscow it would not be important to announce Daniloff’s departure. [Page 1236] So perhaps the announcement could be made in late afternoon in Washington. It would be night in Moscow then, and would pose no difficulty. The following day the release of Zakharov would be announced in the morning and a few hours after that, the meeting in Iceland. If the Soviet side approached Iceland tomorrow, they would probably quickly agree to the meeting, and then Shevardnadze could go to Canada and talk about Soviet-Canadian fishing rights, although the Canadians would probably only want to talk about the meeting in Iceland.

Shevardnadze agreed and said that he had not studied the question of fishing rights in very great detail in anticipation of this.

The Secretary remarked that Ambassador Ridgway had cut her teeth negotiating about fishing rights. This was one of the most difficult subjects there was. Fish had no regard for territorial waters, they just swam where they wanted. Shevardnadze remarked that he did not want to talk about any difficult issues with the Canadians. It had been difficult enough in the U.S.

The Secretary replied that things had been difficult, but the two sides were very close to a final solution, and this was very good.

Shevardnadze suggested that the two sides might instruct their Ambassadors in Iceland to approach the Icelandic Government.

The Secretary remarked that this should be done in secrecy so that it was not leaked in Iceland.

Shevardnadze agreed. He also indicated that he would need to agree on all of this with Moscow, and a statement would not be possible tomorrow. The technical details about timing and procedures needed to be worked out, but the Soviet side was very interested in resolving this very quickly. This might take a couple or more hours. He would not exclude Iceland giving the reply tomorrow, and then everything could be wrapped up tomorrow. Then perhaps on Tuesday morning, there could be a press conference or announcement on Daniloff. Or perhaps this could happen in the afternoon. And Shevardnadze could make an announcement before he departed.

The Secretary said that we should not rule out an announcement on Daniloff tomorrow, even if this would be done late in the day in the U.S. The Soviet side’s deadline was pushing events, and the Secretary could understand Shevardnadze’s desire to do this.

And the Secretary continued that since the two sides were working without factual information, he would first want to ask his government for approval, and then set Ambassadors Ridgway and Bessmertnykh to work, making decisions on facts and sequences, starting immediately, bearing in mind the Minister’s schedule.

Shevardnadze said that since such an approach was different from the one which had been approved for him, he could not agree to it at [Page 1237] the moment. He joked that if he had to change his document, he might be told not to come back, and would become a hostage in the U.S.

The Secretary said that the U.S. would welcome Shevardnadze. He continued that both sides had their requirements and would work within that framework to wrap everything up by the time of the preparatory meeting. He repeated that Ambassadors Ridgway and Bessmertnykh had a lot of work to do and perhaps the Daniloff announcement could be made tomorrow afternoon in order for the sequence to go through.

Shevardnadze remarked that the Secretary was looking for a statement, but agreement had not yet been reached. So Ambassadors Ridgway and Bessmertnykh should work on it. They usually did good work.

The Secretary said that the question of the content of the issues had been resolved. Now the two sides should use this solution to advance further prospects. He understood the Minister’s desire to announce this at the press conference. And the U.S. needed to put things in a row—one, two, three. So there was need to work hard to fit all this in.

Shevardnadze agreed and asked when Ridgway and Bessmertnykh should meet.

Bessmertnykh suggested tomorrow.

The Secretary indicated that he would need to call the President tonight, and he would wake him up, but things needed to get moving, and Ridgway and Bessmertnykh could consult in a few hours.

The Secretary continued that he would not say anything about the Soviet UN contingent. If questions were asked about this, he would say that the issue had been discussed and that the Minister had told him that the number of representatives at the UN Mission was already below the framework that the U.S. had indicated, and the U.S. had no difficulty with this. With regard to the 25 names (which have never been published)—they were discussed, and the U.S. was informed that in the process of personnel management a significant fraction of those on the list were already in Moscow due to rotation. The Soviet side had requested an extension of time, and the U.S. had agreed. The Secretary and the Minister had also agreed to further discuss this issue.

Shevardnadze said that he wanted to make one correction. He had said that six or seven of the people on the list had departed the U.S. before the U.S. demand. As for the rest, this could be indicated as the Secretary desired.

The Secretary repeated that he was not planning to raise this issue on his own.

Shevardnadze said that if he were asked, he would confirm that the action was illegal, but that the Soviet side would not take retaliatory [Page 1238] steps since this could hinder the resolution of the main thing, i.e., the meeting between the heads of state.

The Secretary said that, obviously, the Minister should say what he wished, and the U.S. would say what it wished to describe the situation and what would follow. The Secretary would say this in a voice which was not contentious and would not fan the flames. He would simply describe the results. But the two sides needed to get down to work.

Shevardnadze agreed and said that the Soviet side was seeking a reasonable solution.7

The Secretary remarked that there would be a million press people waiting outside the Soviet Mission. His preference would be not to say anything and to tell his press spokesman, Mr. Kalb, that they had discussed Daniloff and Zakharov and other issues, and could say nothing else about it. The press would note that this was different from what had been said before. After the last meeting, it was said that the issue had not been resolved. But now, it would be said that nothing could be said. At this point, the Secretary remarked that Ambassador Ridgway had suggested that it might be better to say that the two sides were still working on resolving the matter. This might be better.

Shevardnadze remarked that he probably would not go outside.

The Secretary said that his cars might not be able to move because of the press.

Shevardnadze remarked that in that case, the Secretary could spend the night at the Soviet Mission.

The Secretary replied that that would really be a sensation. He would be held hostage.

Shevardnadze indicated that he would, after all, say good-bye to the Secretary outside.

The Secretary said that after he consulted with the President, Ambassador Ridgway would call Ambassador Bessmertnykh. If necessary, he could meet again with the Minister to work things out. However, if they did not meet again in New York, he wished the Minister [Page 1239] a good stay in Canada and Mexico and would look forward to meeting him in Reykjavik.8

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S Records, Memorandum of Conversations, 1981–1990, Lot 93D188, September 19 & 23, 1986, Shultz/Shevardnadze at the UN. Secret; Sensitive. There is no drafting information. The meeting took place at the Soviet Mission to the UN. In his memoir, Shultz recalled: “I arrived at the Soviet mission in New York at 8:30 P.M. on Sunday and did not leave until well after 11:00. After some very hard dealing, Shevardnadze and I agreed:

    “• Day 1: the Soviets permit Daniloff to leave the USSR.

    “• Day 2: twenty-four hours after Daniloff’s departure, Zakharov pleads nolo contendere (no contest), a legal equivalent of guilty, and the United States expels him.

    “• Day 3: as soon as Zakharov departs, the U.S. announces that Yuri Orlov and his wife will be allowed to leave the Soviet Union by October 7.

    “• The Soviets acquiesce in our reduction of the number of personnel at the Soviet mission to the United Nations.

    “• On Tuesday, September 30, we announce that Reagan and Gorbachev will meet in Reykjavik on October 10–12, 1986.

    Shevardnadze also gave me his commitment to work on getting other dissidents and refuseniks released. I trusted him to do this.” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, p. 745)

  2. See Document 290.
  3. See Document 280.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 288.
  5. September 30.
  6. Shultz continued in his memoir: “Shevardnadze and I had met on the Daniloff problem three times in Washington and four times in New York. These meetings had been intense and personal. Most of the time only our interpreters and one other person on each side were present. Roz Ridgway was with me and her Soviet counterpart, Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, joined Shevardnadze. No papers were exchanged for signature. At the moment of agreement, we went over the points carefully with each other. I was within my instructions, which President Reagan had signed off on personally. At the end, Shevardnadze and I sealed our agreement with a handshake. We had been through a tense and extended effort together. The experience built personal confidence in each other, and trust.” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, p. 747)
  7. At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 30, in Washington, Shultz announced the release of Zakharov and Orlov. He was joined by Reagan who declared that he would meet with Gorbachev in Reykjavik October 11–12. For the text of Shultz’s statement and Reagan and Shultz’s exchanges with the press concerning the meeting, Daniloff’s release, and the expulsion of the Soviet UN employees, see Public Papers: Reagan, 1986, Book II, pp. 1292–1299. Shevardnadze, in his September 30 news conference in New York, discussed the expulsion order and Daniloff and Zakharov’s release. He said he believed a “reasonable solution” would be found at the Reykjavik meeting. (Elaine Sciolino, “Soviet Warning on Expulsion Order,” New York Times, October 1, 1986, p. A10)
  8. On September 29, Reagan wrote in his diary: “George S. has won the day. Mr. & Mrs. Daniloff will be on their way home before the morning is over. That will be announced. Then tomorrow George will announce that Zakharov will be found guilty & sent to Russia on probation so long as he never returns to the U.S. and Orlov & his wife will be freed to leave Soviet Union within one week. Then I’ll announce a meeting with Gorbachev in Iceland October 10, 11, & 12.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. II: November 1985–January 1989, p. 643) Reagan first announced Daniloff’s release at 12:24 p.m. on Monday, September 29, at a Senate campaign rally in Kansas City, Missouri. (Public Papers: Reagan, 1986, Book II, p. 1284)