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


  • Conversation with Dobrynin—May 24th

At a reception last night, I had the opportunity to take Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin aside to discuss the question of a Summit. I told him first that I wanted him to pass on to Gromyko that, should the Foreign Minister come to the UN General Assembly this late September as usual, he would be welcome to come to Washington and meet with you in the Oval Office at that time.

Second, I told Dobrynin that I had passed to you Gorbachev’s proposed time frame for a meeting between the two of you, and that you were agreeable, preferring sometime in the week beginning Monday, November 18.2 I stated that you felt a one-day meeting would probably not be sufficient and that a two-day meeting with three substantive sessions would perhaps be best. Concerning the venue, I reiterated your invitation for Gorbachev to come to Washington, observing that for protocol reasons, Washington would be most appropriate since it was our turn to host such an affair. I added, however, that in any follow-on meeting after such a Washington summit, you would be quite prepared to visit Moscow. I noted to Dobrynin your view that it would be better for the leaders of the world’s two most powerful countries to meet in each other’s capitals than in some third country.

Dobrynin promised to convey back to Moscow both the invitation for Gromyko to visit Washington in late September and your proposed time frame for a meeting with Gorbachev. On the question of venue, he stated that Gorbachev wanted you to visit Moscow because he thought it would be good for you “to look around” and see the Soviet people and society. I reminded Dobrynin that you would be prepared to visit, but that it was the turn of a Soviet leader to come to the U.S. I noted that in any joint announcement of a Washington meeting, we would willing to add that the next meeting would be in Moscow.

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Dobrynin said that he would report this to Gorbachev, but mused whether our interest in a Washington venue was solely a matter of protocol. I told him it was. We both agreed that if such a meeting were to take place, it would best if it could accomplish something tangible. Dobrynin added that from his own experience, once agreement on a Summit was reached, the respective bureaucracies “begin to move” to produce progress.

I concluded by reminding Dobrynin of the need for the Soviets to take special care in the weeks and months to come not to take any unfortunate action, deliberate or otherwise, which might have the effect of derailing this process. (I took this moment to pass to Dobrynin a non-paper noting our strong concerns over the plight of Soviet hunger-striker Balovlenkov).3 I also stated that, while the other NATO Foreign Ministers might not decide until the Lisbon NAC, it was likely I would be going to the Helsinki commemoration in late July where I meet with Gromyko again. I suggested that the two sides should soon begin work on an agenda for that meeting.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, 1985 Soviet Union May. Secret; Sensitive. A typed note in the top margin reads: “5/25 Orig +1 via Special Courier 1310 p.m. per S/S.” Under a June 1 covering memorandum, McFarlane forwarded the memorandum to Reagan. (Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Chronological File, 1980–1986, Matlock Chron June 1985 (1/4))
  2. See footnote 3, Document 30.
  3. The non-paper was not found. In telegram 6822 from Moscow, May 23, the Embassy reported that Yuri Balovlenkov, “who is married to an American citizen, for six years has sought permission to emigrate from the Soviet Union to the United States in order to be reunited with his wife and two children.” It continues: “On March 25 Balovlenkov began a hunger strike in support of his demand to be permitted to join his family in the United States.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D850365–0050)