105. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Shultz-Shevardnadze Meeting December 7 Evening


  • U.S.

    • George P. Shultz, Secretary of State
    • Colin Powell, President’s National Security Advisor
    • Rozanne L. Ridgway, Assistant Secretary of State (EUR)
    • Jack F. Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the USSR
    • Thomas W. Simons, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (EUR) (notetaker)
    • Peter Afanasenko (interpreter)
    • William Hopkins (interpreter)
  • USSR

    • Eduard Shevardnadze, Foreign Minister
    • Aleksandr A. Bessmertnykh, Deputy Foreign Minister
    • Yuriy Dubinin, Soviet Ambassador to the U.S.
    • P. Palazhchenko (interpreter)

After welcoming Shevardnadze, the Secretary said his assumption was they were there to work out procedural questions. Before proceeding to that, he said, there was one last question on the INF Treaty. The Treaty said—and he was reading from it—that there would be photographs provided of the missiles, launchers, support structures and support equipment listed below. The U.S. side had no picture of the SS–20. The canister did not tell the U.S. side anything; it was not a missile. This was a problem. The U.S. side did not want a treaty signed with a violation built into what was submitted to the Congress. He had heard a description of how Soviet missiles were constructed, how they were fired from canisters. But there must be some way to provide what was needed, not just because of the treaty text, but for verification that SS–20’s were not SS–25’s. The two sides had been discussing the matter for quite some time. The other pictures were there. This was a central matter. He knew Ambassadors Ridgway and Bessmertnykh had been spending the weekend talking, but at this point the question was unresolved, and the treaty requirement was unequivocal.

[Page 603]

Shevardnadze said that frankly he could not discuss this question at that time. The treaty was there. It had been prepared; the language had been prepared and printed. He had been told at midnight the night before that it was all completed.

The Secretary said that was true, but it said that certain photographs would accompany it, and this one was lacking. He did not see why this was such a difficult question.

Bessmertnykh said that, as he understood it, the Soviet side had given the Secretary of State the explanation that the missile was always in the canister. That was what the Soviet side meant by missile in the text, although it was not always so spelled out. Without the canister the missile did not exist. The Soviet side was waiting for its experts, who were coming, and would discuss the question with them.

Shevardnadze said the problem was unexpected to him.

The Secretary said the two sides had been discussing it. There had to be ways to get at it. He wished to register that this was a very important matter. We needed the information for the agreed verification procedures to go forward.

Shevardnadze said he would look into it.

The Secretary said that was good.

The Secretary continued that during his ride into town with the General Secretary, the latter had thought that after he and the President had had a private talk, they should go on to broader business, and invite Shevardnadze and the Secretary to join them. The Secretary had replied that he thought the President would wish to get down to business as quickly as possible, but there was a key person for that whom the General Secretary had not yet met: Colin Powell. It would be well if he were there too, because a lot of the coordination burden would fall on him. The General Secretary had heard this, and had readily agreed; he had added that he would probably bring another person too. The Secretary had replied that that was entirely up to him, and the matter had been left at that. The Secretary said he thought that was a good way to proceed. The General Secretary, he continued, had also seemed well disposed toward the working group process, and to getting it going as quickly as possible. The U.S. side was agreeable to that, the Secretary said; it was a good process.

Shevardnadze said he was aware of the conversation between the General Secretary and the Secretary of State. He thought this was a good idea. Dobrynin would be the additional man on the Soviet side. He and the Secretary had worked with this kind of group.

Shevardnadze suggested they think of the procedure for a plenary meeting, a broader meeting; it would not have to be regular. Ambassador Dubinin said the U.S. side had suggested this. Shevardnadze said the question was when it should take place.

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The Secretary said the U.S. had in mind a meeting of the two delegations, where there could be an official photograph as well as views exchanged. Shevardnadze said that perhaps there could be one near the beginning, where a picture could be taken. Hence there could be the two leaders, then the larger group, and then the smaller group would remain; toward the end of the visit there might be another plenary meeting. He was only suggesting this. He invited the Secretary’s views.

The Secretary said he would propose a variation on this. The meetings might start with the two leaders, who would then call in the two foreign ministers; there would be some substantive discussion, and some discussion of working group arrangements; and then before the end of the allotted time, they would agree to stop where they were, and form a plenary. There would be photographs, and the two leaders would say what working groups would be formed, and get people going. This would legitimize the working groups. The plenary would have the function of being instructed.

Shevardnadze said this was a good idea. This form of work was part of the practice of the two ministers; he understood that the first meeting would end with it. The Secretary said that was good. Continuing on, the two leaders could then have another private meeting if they wanted one, but the core would be three on a side, calling in the others as needed.

With regard to working groups, the Secretary continued, the first would be on arms control. If desired the working group could, as they had done in the past, organize within itself people to talk on a particular topic. But the main people should focus on strategic arms. The objective of both sides was to move as far as they can, and maximize the chance of completing a treaty in time for the President to visit Moscow. The other subjects would be under the auspices of the other working group. He thought that ought to be under Ambassador Ridgway, who had the job of coordinating the work on the joint statement. She and Ambassador Bessmertnykh had already made headway on this, although there were blanks and the most important task was to fill them in. And they too could spread out individuals to talk on particular topics.

Shevardnadze said this was basically as they had discussed it; it was the right approach. He had a question, however: did the U.S. side still agree the task should be to develop instructions to negotiators?

The Secretary said it did. They should try to move things along, and they should not keep what their leaders wanted to do on this a secret from their negotiators. There should be a section in the statement to record what the leaders wanted the negotiators to work on. The Soviet side had raised the topic of counting rules, and the U.S. side thought certain key ones ought to be discussed. They would need to do hard work on verification, building on INF, and push the negotiators [Page 605] in certain directions, not that more would not be required than in INF. There were a number of other issues that would also need to be addressed. The Soviet side had mentioned SLCM’s; there were also obviously questions of what the two sides needed to do on strategic defenses and the ABM Treaty. But whatever they brought out, the leaders and the working groups working back and forth, they would want to record, so the world could see it.

Shevardnadze said it was not of basic importance whether this was called instructions or key parameters or key elements; what was important was what the leaders agreed to concerning strategic offensive weapons, the ABM Treaty and verification and related issues. The Secretary said the U.S. side saw things the same way.

Shevardnadze said there would therefore be one working group on arms control, and if they wanted another on human rights, regional and bilateral issues. On the Soviet side, that group would be headed by Ambassador Bessmertnykh, and they could establish subgroups. The Secretary noted that Ambassadors Ridgway and Bessmertnykh had been working on a statement, and when they received material on arms control, they could plug it in. Shevardnadze said that was agreed.

The Secretary asked if it were agreed who would be at the plenary. Shevardnadze said the Soviet side had received the list of people who would be on the U.S. side, and would act accordingly. He did not have the Soviet list, but they did have the White House list, and they would have approximately the same group. Then, Shevardnadze continued, the other meetings would proceed in the usual way, and then probably in the last stage another plenary would be required; this would be appropriate.

The Secretary reviewed the leader’s meetings: there would be a meeting the morning of the next day; another the afternoon of the next day, after the signing; another Wednesday morning; then another Thursday morning; and then the working lunch. Perhaps there would be an occasion Thursday morning, before the lunch. He hoped things would be far enough along to be wrapped up, though there might be some details to be worked out during the lunch. But then there would be lunch, and then the ceremony where the joint statement would be issued.

Shevardnadze asked whether the instructions, the key parameters, should be part of the joint statement. Bessmertnykh said this had been the U.S. proposal, but in his discussions the possibility of issuing them separately had not been ruled out. The Secretary said it would be appropriate to reflect the outcome of the meeting in the statement. One important part would be the instructions to negotiators. That was the way the U.S. side saw it.

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Shevardnadze said the important thing was to have another plenary meeting. They would need to consult again before the working lunch, or the fifth round, as the U.S. side put it.

The Secretary said he would be doing nothing during the visit except to work on it. If there were problems that would benefit by discussion between the two ministers, he would make time for that. Shevardnadze agreed that if there were need, they would be able to consult, even early in the morning or after the other meetings. The Secretary said each thus knew the other had the flexibility for that. The working groups would have their own schedules, but he imagined they would be working Tuesday and Wednesday evening. They should roll up their sleeves and go to work. Shevardnadze said jokingly that the two ministers should require them to do so. Bessmertnykh had had time to sleep out in Washington. The Secretary said in the same vein that he had had nothing to do. Shevardnadze said no, he had heard Bessmertnykh had done good work. ( Bessmertnykh knocked some paper on wood.)

Ambassador Ridgway noted there were three documents in play. First, the two sides had agreed to expand their civil aviation agreement. Second, we were awaiting the Soviet side’s approval for renewing the World Ocean agreement, which could be accomplished by an exchange of notes. Third, our negotiators on nuclear testing had developed a statement on the joint experiment. They were presently comparing texts, but if this were completed the statement could be issued by ministers. Unlike previous summits, the two sides did not have anything big or novel enough to merit signature in the presence of the leaders, but the ministers could register agreement on these documents.

The Secretary said he thought the testing document was good; it showed some advance. It was his hope that the process would mature enough so that the U.S. side could move the two treaties into the Senate in time for them to be acted on by the Moscow Summit. He and Shevardnadze had agreed on this approach in that very room. The statement would help them do that.

Simons noted that it was a question of finding time for the ministers.

The Secretary said the ministers could also finish off the embassy arrangements. Shevardnadze suggested that they find some time in the evening to sit and listen to their ambassadors. He favored removing the remaining obstacles on that topic. They should sit down and listen. The Secretary said “fine.” Shevardnadze continued that they should give appropriate instructions to their people by the next meeting. These were elementary questions. It depended on both of them to clear the way, to get rid of all the obstacles. The Secretary said that was good.

The Secretary raised the question of the ministers finding time slots in their respective schedules for meeting. With reference to the embassies question, Shevardnadze said that before the ministers met they [Page 607] should have their ambassadors sit down and identify the questions that deserved ministers’ attention. The Secretary said perhaps the ambassadors could settle the matter. He observed that Ambassador Ridgway seemed skeptical. Ambassador Ridgway said she had always favored small group discussion. Shevardnadze said that these were small questions compared to those they had solved in INF. The Secretary commented that all questions look big if you are on the receiving end of them. Shevardnadze said the two should work at it, and they would be able to find solutions.

Bessmertnykh explained to Shevardnadze that on the ministers meeting he and Ridgway had had in mind a simple procedure for an exchange of notes and photographs. Shevardnadze said it was just a question of defining the procedure. The Secretary pointed out that there was going to be a lot going on on Tuesday, and that the outcome would be on Thursday, so that there was less to do on Wednesday; perhaps it would be worthwhile to issue the statement Wednesday. It was not of comparable stature to some other things, but it would show matters were progressing. Shevardnadze said he agreed.

The Secretary asked if there were more things to clean up. He knew Shevardnadze was tired. Shevardnadze said smilingly that he was not too tired.

With regard to the photograph, Shevardnadze said, he would look into it right way, and tell the Secretary what the answer was. The Secretary said the two sides had been turning the problem over, and there had to be some way of identifying the system, somehow, with the purpose of distinguishing it from the SS–25. This was very important. This was not a trivial question. Shevardnadze asked if only the SS–20 were involved. The Secretary said that was all; the other photographs were there. Shevardnadze said he would look into it; they had done more difficult things.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S Records, Memoranda of Conversations Pertaining to United States and USSR Relations, 1981–1990, Lot 93D188, Washington Summit, 12/87. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Simons. The meeting took place in Shultz’s office at the Department of State.