66. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S.

    • The Secretary
    • EUR/SOV Director Parris (Notetaker)
    • Dimitri Zarechnak (Interpreter)
  • U.S.S.R.

    • Foreign Minister Shevardnadze
    • Sergei Tarasenko, Advisor to the Foreign Minister (Notetaker)
    • Pavel Palazhchenko (Interpreter)


  • Overview of Shevardnadze Visit, Human Rights
[Page 295]

The SECRETARY opened the meeting by noting that he and the Foreign Minister had three days. The Secretary was glad that Shevardnadze had allocated that much time; for our part, we had been glad to accommodate the Foreign Minister’s request for an additional hour for this initial session. The Secretary suggested, however, that the two break at about 10:45 to greet their respective delegations as a matter of courtesy.

SHEVARDNADZE agreed to the Secretary’s suggestion, and conveyed both his own greetings and the best wishes of General Secretary Gorbachev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Gromyko, and Chairman of the Council of Ministers Ryzhkov.

THE SECRETARY expressed his appreciation for their greetings, noting that he had found his April trip to Moscow2 stimulating. He could see that important things were going on in the Soviet Union. They were fascinating to the Secretary as a person. They also had obvious implications for relations between our two countries. We would be interested in hearing more about them while Shevardnadze was here. Indeed, reflecting in part the discussion he had had in Moscow, the Secretary thought he and the Foreign Minister might speculate a bit on what the world would be like in five or ten years to put in perspective the environment for their present discussions, and to get away from the framework of current problems they had argued about often in the past.

SHEVARDNADZE said he had also given a lot of thought to the problems of his country, and of international problems. There was no clear dividing line, he added, between a nation’s internal affairs and the face it presented abroad. (THE SECRETARY commented that this was true, although hard for people to understand.) SHEVARDNADZE said it was true even for small nations, to say nothing of countries like the U.S. and Soviet Union. Perhaps, he suggested, it would be possible to discuss the question at greater length on the barge trip that evening.

THE SECRETARY replied that another alternative was to do so the following afternoon. He added that he had invited the Carluccis to join the Secretary, Shevardnadze and their parties for the barge trip. The Secretary felt that it would be useful for Shevardnadze to get to know the new National Security Advisor in an informal setting. SHEVARDNADZE said he would be pleased to meet Mr. Carlucci.

Turning to the “nature” of their current meeting, Shevardnadze said it was not an easy thing to describe. While there had been some advance discussion of the schedule for plenary sessions, no agenda had been set for the private meeting. Shevardnadze proposed that [Page 296] “concrete” discussions be left aside for plenary sessions with advisors, allowing the two Ministers to engage in a more free-flowing exchange. THE SECRETARY agreed.

SHEVARDNADZE thought it would be useful for the Ministers briefly to assess the current situation and what additional measures might be necessary to build on the accomplishments of the last four years. The U.S.-Soviet relationship was at a critical stage. On the one hand, a good deal of work had been done to normalize relations. The meetings in Geneva and Reykjavik of President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev had been important elements in this process: while no agreements of global significance had been signed, these meetings were landmarks in U.S.-Soviet relations and beyond. Shevardnadze said he often used the expression “the spirit of” Reykjavik or Geneva. Some said there was no such spirit. Shevardnadze always said that there was indeed such a spirit, and that it still existed. (THE SECRETARY said he agreed).

SHEVARDNADZE continued that, even if the Geneva meeting produced nothing more than the two leaders’ agreement that nuclear war was unacceptable and must never be fought, that alone would make it a historic event. Despite the serious disappointment it produced, the Reykjavik meeting was also important, as were the periods leading up to and following the summit. Reykjavik had taken the two sides from merely talking about limiting nuclear arms to a discussion of what actually to do to limit, reduce, and ultimately eliminate them. That was the significance of Reykjavik.

THE SECRETARY said he agreed. He often pointed out to skeptics that, if one compared the situation before and after Reykjavik, it was clear that more had occurred there than at any previous summit meeting. The session was extremely productive, even though nothing had been signed. What we wanted now was to consolidate and develop the progress that had been made there. It was our sense that important agreements had been brought within reach.

Continuing his analysis, SHEVARDNADZE pointed out that, after Reykjavik, a good deal of practical work had been done. Shevardnadze’s meetings with the Secretary had been important elements of that process. Shevardnadze recalled that their initial 1985 meetings in Helsinki, Washington and New York had been, in a sense, the start of the process. Shevardnadze especially remembered a moment during a one-on-one when the two ministers had agreed that “everything depends on us” to improve the relationship. They had shaken hands on that.

THE SECRETARY expressed his own strong feelings on the importance of moving toward a more normal relationship between the U.S. and Soviet Union, even recognizing the enormous differences between [Page 297] the two societies. As one looked ahead five or ten years, the Secretary mused, it would be better for both sides and for the world in general if we had relations in which we could talk out problems, in which disagreements could occur, but in which we were not afraid to work with one another. This was the kind of approach the Secretary had had in mind since he began dealing with the Soviet Union in the seventies, during the Nixon Administration; this was the approach he had had in mind over his past five years as Secretary of State. This was what he would like to see emerge from the dialogue which had been set in motion. There was no more important objective on the international scene.

The Secretary continued that the two sides had managed to establish an agenda of important topics. They had by now learned how to discuss them. There had been progress in many areas. So we were beginning to be on the way. We needed now to keep working at it, and working hard at it.

SHEVARDNADZE noted that he had commented on what had already been done as a prelude to discussing what might now be accomplished. Since Reykjavik and as a result of his meetings with the Secretary, much practical work had been done on reducing nuclear arsenals and in the general area of arms reductions. Much had also been done to bolster trust between the two sides. We were now at a crucial moment, when the accumulated “quantitative” steps to date could be expected to make a “qualitative” difference. (THE SECRETARY said this was well put.) It was thus important to correctly analyze the situation and prospects for further progress, taking all this into account.

Shevardnadze said he would be frank: the current U.S. administration had at most eighteen months in which to work. (Shevardnadze commented in an aside that he nonetheless expected his relationship with the Secretary to continue well beyond that.) There was perhaps even less time to make decisions. To use to the fullest the time remaining, it would be necessary to intensify contacts and negotiations across the board.

THE SECRETARY said he agreed. What the U.S. wanted to accomplish in the time remaining to the Reagan Administration was to accomplish as much as possible in terms of specific agreements, especially in the arms control field. But it was also vital to create an atmosphere of greater confidence, mutual trust and understanding which would carry the relationship forward into the years ahead. There had been some progress in this area; things were somewhat better than they had been in the past.

SHEVARDNADZE interjected that they were unquestionably better. It was important to have trust between the two governments. [Page 298] Moreover a firm foundation had been laid for major success in the central area of the relationship—arms control. The two sides were not starting from scratch. It was possible to say that, with mutual efforts and adequate political will, an important agreement on INF could be reached. True, in quantitative terms, INF accounted for only about 2% of the nuclear arsenals of both sides. Such an agreement was nonetheless of great importance to Europe, and the Soviet Union wanted to reach such an accord. While there was much to work out, the current situation in Geneva suggested this could be accomplished in the relatively short term.

THE SECRETARY said he agreed that every effort should be made to get the remaining work done, perhaps by extensive use of working groups during the Foreign Minister’s stay. The Ministers could hear the groups’ reports, make their contributions, and keep the pressure on to ensure progress, as they had done during the concluding days of the Stockholm CDE meeting3 when Shevardnadze had been in Washington the previous fall. The U.S. also agreed that INF was important regionally, even if, since there were more missiles in the strategic area, General Secretary Gorbachev had been correct in calling that the “root problem.” An INF agreement was also important, the Secretary continued, because it would be the first time that nuclear weapons had actually been reduced. This would be an important step to the goal both sides’ leaders had said they supported: the elimination of nuclear weapons.

But the U.S. did not by any means, the Secretary added, rule out making headway—if possible reaching an agreement—on strategic arms, especially since the parameters for such an agreement had been laid out in Reykjavik. The problems involved were more difficult than those in INF, but we needed to make greater efforts for that reason.

SHEVARDNADZE said he agreed, adding that Moscow believed the ground had been prepared for some time for a breakthrough in START. The Soviet side was prepared for a separate START agreement. Shevardnadze did not agree with those who contrasted START and INF; it was necessary to concentrate on both, and on strengthening the ABM Treaty as well. All should be done in parallel to arrive together at the finish line.

THE SECRETARY said we should “do it.” Procedurally, he suggested the Ministers agree on a pattern for dividing work between themselves and working groups. The Secretary proposed establishing an arms control group which might subdivide itself into subgroups. [Page 299] He proposed a separate group on bilateral and human rights issues. Following whatever headway the two Ministers could accomplish in their own meetings, the groups could go to work and report back as appropriate. The Secretary noted that the Soviet side had brought along a high-powered delegation. We had assembled our delegation chiefs from Geneva to supplement our local expertise.

SHEVARDNADZE noted jocularly that the U.S. had a larger team this time, as it was at home. It could draw on the resources of the Pentagon and “other agencies” to support its efforts. THE SECRETARY said he had come to have the highest regard for Soviet experts. SHEVARDNADZE said that they were like the Secretary’s Soviet experts. The key was they would do what they were told by the political leadership. THE SECRETARY said that this was exactly right.

SHEVARDNADZE said that he would describe at greater length the main lines of Soviet ideas on arms control. As for working groups, the Soviet side would propose that groups be formed on the following issues: nuclear and space arms, nuclear testing, chemical weapons, perhaps the Vienna CSCE conventional arms discussions, and U.S.-Soviet bilateral issues, including trade and economic matters. The Soviet side also had along an expert on humanitarian questions. Shevardnadze felt that regional issues might best be handled by the Ministers themselves, although he was prepared to accept a separate group if the U.S. wished. Shevardnadze said he had a paper4 to hand over reflecting Soviet ideas on how to utilize plenary sessions.

THE SECRETARY indicated that the structure Shevardnadze had described was generally agreeable. Paul Nitze would be the overall coordinator for the U.S. on arms control issues; Rozanne Ridgway and Tom Simons would cover bilateral and human rights questions. The Secretary suggested that the Ministers inform the delegations that such arrangements had been agreed upon, to enable them to sort things out while the Ministers were at lunch. He invited Shevardnadze to read the Soviet side’s suggestions on the plenaries.

SHEVARDNADZE proposed that the first afternoon’s plenary5 be devoted to the nuclear and space talks and to nuclear testing. Shevardnadze added that it was particularly important to discuss testing in view of the inability of the two sides’ experts to reach agreement on this issue in recent exchanges. Shevardnadze noted that it might also be possible to discuss chemical weapons during the afternoon session, but that that topic might have to await the next day.

[Page 300]

For the Wednesday6 morning plenary, Shevardnadze proposed a discussion of European conventional weapons, military doctrine, and nuclear nonproliferation. The afternoon session might then be devoted to regional issues.

THE SECRETARY responded that the sequence Shevardnadze had described sounded fine. We definitely wanted to have addressed all those issues by Wednesday afternoon. There would clearly be more to say on some issues than others.

SHEVARDNADZE suggested that it might make sense for the two Ministers to do some regional issues one-on-one, in addition to those sessions in which experts would be present. THE SECRETARY responded positively, proposing that perhaps one additional person be present. For the U.S., that would probably be Under Secretary Armacost. SHEVARDNADZE said he agreed. As for the timing of that session, it could be scheduled as the program progressed. THE SECRETARY agreed.

SHEVARDNADZE concluded his agenda proposals by suggesting that the final plenary Thursday morning7 could be given over to reports by experts, including in the bilateral area, and an assessment of results.

THE SECRETARY said that Shevardnadze had proposed good working arrangements. As the discussions proceeded, he added, the Ministers could decide whether they should meet to discuss any issues directly. They would also be able to share some thoughts on the boat ride. If necessary, they could also consider an evening meeting after the Wednesday dinner, although it would be a late one. The Secretary added that he had invited members from the NST Congressional observer group to the dinner, and noted that the Congressional leaders involved were anxious to meet Shevardnadze. SHEVARDNADZE said this would be very interesting. THE SECRETARY said he would have to excuse himself the next day at 11:00 to introduce the President, who was giving a speech in the building.8 Shevardnadze was welcome to attend, but the Secretary had to be on hand for the speech. SHEVARDNADZE said this would be no problem.

THE SECRETARY said he would like to make a few comments on the subject of human rights in the privacy of this meeting. There might also be some further discussion of the issue during the experts’ meetings.

[Page 301]

The U.S. had noted many things which the Soviet side had been doing. The Secretary understood that these things were primarily a function of what the Soviet Union felt to be in its best interest and reflected official policy. But we had watched closely, and had seen some positive steps.

The Secretary also recalled that, during their extensive discussions the previous fall, the Secretary had raised a number of names. At that time, Shevardnadze had agreed to look into them. The Secretary had accepted that as a statement of intent. He had said nothing about it publicly. He had since noticed when actions had subsequently been taken on a number of the cases he had raised. The Secretary saw this as an act of good faith on the part of the Minister, and wanted Shevardnadze to know he respected the effort he had made.

The Secretary continued that he was certain Shevardnadze appreciated the impact these kinds of issues could have on the general tone of and outlook for U.S.-Soviet relations. We continued to be concerned by certain categories of problems. While some political prisoners had been released, for example too many others remained imprisoned. People remained in jail on religious grounds. We could not understand why Soviet authorities continued to prevent certain married people from living together. There were still questions on the conditions for emigration: substantial increases in numbers had occurred, but we remained worried about the arbitrariness of the application of restrictions on the basis of state secrecy.

We had felt recently that it was possible to discuss such issues in a more direct and clear way. Thus, Shevardnadze’s suggestion that he would be willing to organize a separate working group on human rights was welcome. We had also welcomed the Soviet side’s apparent receptivity during recent consultations in Moscow to the idea of regularizing procedural aspects of our dialogue on human rights. The Soviet side had in the past complained that some of the lists we presented were flawed in one way or another. That was a fair point. For that reason, we had proposed regular meetings to go through the lists and discuss the cases involved in an orderly, productive way. So there were some positive things to point to along with the negative.

In that spirit, the Secretary informed Shevardnadze that Ambassador Matlock would be passing to Deputy Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh certain materials which could be examined further by working groups. The Secretary said he would like personally to present Shevardnadze with an album of photographs and information on some cases of particular interest to the U.S.—divided spouses. These were not high-powered people, only people who had had the misfortune to fall in love across international borders. The Secretary noted that the album was appropriately bound in red.

[Page 302]

After leafing through the album, Shevardnadze said he would comment in a minute on the Secretary’s remarks on human rights. First, however, he would like to return to a question of the organization of their work.

In preparing for this visit, Shevardnadze had reviewed some of his earlier conversations with the Secretary. It had struck him that those conversations had invariably been very good. But he had found that many of the things the two had discussed had never gone beyond paper. Thus, the two had had to go over the same ground the next time around. Perhaps some means could be found to register the results of their meetings in a document. Shevardnadze said he did not have in mind a public document, but a simple record of what the two had agreed on and discussed. Staffs could be told to work on the basis of such a document, whether the issue was arms control, human rights, or regional questions, leaving the Ministers to move on to new issues.

Thus they would accumulate “capital.” Shevardnadze said he, personally, was for such an approach. This would not be the two Ministers’ last meeting; perhaps they could try it this time and see how it worked. Shevardnadze stressed that he did not want to over-formalize their meetings. But any meeting between political leaders was important; all the more so when there were areas of agreement to record. Frankly, Shevardnadze quipped, he would not even suggest such an approach were the Secretary not an economist. Everyone knew economists were most interested in the “bottom line. That’s what Shevardnadze was trying to focus on.

THE SECRETARY said that Shevardnadze’s idea was interesting and said he would consider it. SHEVARDNADZE said it might be hard to implement, but would be worth a try. It might serve as a focal point for working groups. THE SECRETARY expressed his understanding of the concept to be that working groups would formally report to Ministers on areas of agreement and disagreement that had been identified. This would give the Ministers a clear idea of where obstacles had to be overcome, as well as a record of the the meeting. It would be important, the Secretary thought, not to spend too much time worrying about wording of joint documents. This could be counterproductive. SHEVARDNADZE said this was what he meant by not wanting to over-formalize the process. THE SECRETARY said he would talk it over with his people. SHEVARDNADZE said perhaps we could initiate the approach for their next meeting. THE SECRETARY said we should see if we could start it during this visit.

Returning to human rights, SHEVARDNADZE began by describing what he described as the main trend in the Soviet Union today, whether in the field of politics, social development, economics or culture—demokratizatsia (democratization). Democratization was the “basis for everything.

[Page 303]

To understand the importance of the term, Shevardnadze explained, a familiarity with Soviet history was necessary. After the Revolution, there was a dictatorship of the proletariat. A dictatorship was a dictatorship—direct restraints on individual liberties had been necessary. During the fifties Moscow had spoken of the “state of the whole people.” Now there was a feeling that Soviet society had become ripe for a policy of total democracy. It was a multifaceted process, legal codes were being revised; the question of individual liberties was being reconsidered. But it was a process already fully underway.

Shevardnadze said that the Secretary knew how much he (Shevardnadze) respected him. Thus he should not take it amiss when Shevardnadze said that, if certain cases which had been raised in the past had been resolved, it was not out of respect for those who had raised those cases. Rather, it was a reflection of a deep-seated process already underway in the Soviet Union.

THE SECRETARY said he welcomed that. He much preferred that something important happen because the Soviet side considered it important for itself than that it be done for “us.” Such an approach would ensure that the changes lasted, that they became regularized. So the Secretary welcomed what Shevardnadze had said.

SHEVARDNADZE said that the approaches of persons like the Secretary were not without importance. Democratization was part of a general “perestroika”—rebuilding. Not all change came about immediately. Among those who had not changed were too many who sat in offices and dealt with the kind of people the Secretary was concerned about. Bureaucrats were bureaucrats, whatever may happen between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Shevardnadze assured the Secretary, however, that, when he received lists, he read them, followed up on them. Sometimes he found that a case which should have been resolved had not been. Perestroika was a battle, as was democratization. The most difficult thing to effect was a revolution in the minds of men; that was what was happening in the Soviet Union today.

In any case, Shevardnadze continued, the Soviet Union now could react calmly when presented with lists. He recalled that on his last visit the Secretary had given certain lists to the General Secretary. There had been nothing wrong or surprising about this. These were issues which should be dealt with in a serious, solid fashion, without theatrics, in a quiet and firm way. They should not be manipulated for political advantage, as some did. Such actions hampered efforts to deal seriously with the problems involved. The Soviet side was ready to work seriously on any cases the U.S. might submit. So that was one side of the matter.

On the other side, Shevardnadze continued, he had no desire to engage in an “eye-for-an-eye” debate. But issues existed in the human [Page 304] rights field on which the two sides disagreed. The Secretary had talked a minute before about political prisoners in the Soviet Union. But Shevardnadze had been told there were people in the U.S. who had been in jail for fifteen years for demonstrating outside airbases. Maybe this was true, maybe not. Shevardnadze admitted his knowledge of such things was not exhaustive.

THE SECRETARY said the U.S. was prepared to discuss any cases the Soviet side wished to raise. He doubted that anyone had been imprisoned for demonstrating in front of an airbase. He agreed, however, that our dialogue on such issues should be a two-way street. We would listen to Soviet cases if they would listen to ours.

SHEVARDNADZE said that this was appropriate. He said that “his people” had lists which they would be presenting. He had not personally read them, he added, and could not be sure that everything on them was true. The Soviets also would present lists of Nazis now believed to be residing in the U.S. They also wished to raise the cases of the hijackers Brazinskas9 (pronouncing it Brzezhinski).

THE SECRETARY reiterated that we were prepared to talk about all these cases. He was familiar with some of those Shevardnadze had mentioned. They could all be discussed in working groups.

SHEVARDNADZE agreed. He wished to raise as well a delicate issue. The Secretary, he said, was well aware that the Soviet Union was a multinational state composed of many ethnic groups. Bringing this about had been the work of generations, and the Soviet people were legitimately and sincerely proud of this accomplishment. Briefly describing the structure of the Soviet state, Shevardnadze noted that, if the Secretary reviewed what some “ideologically oriented” U.S. institutions were writing about Soviet ethnic issues, he would find it hard to believe. He wanted the Secretary to know that an irresponsible approach on such matters was unacceptable as far as Moscow was concerned. The U.S. was also a multinational state, although it had dealt with the problems this posed in its own ways. The Soviet side respected that, feeling that a very responsible approach was called for in this area. Shevardnadze said that, having personally studied nationality problems closely, he could say that it would be very unpleasant were the Soviet Union to reciprocate for some of the things which were happening. In this regard he pointed out that the Soviet Union had a certain advantage in any comparisons in that ethnicity was the “organizing principle” of the Soviet state. He asked the Secretary [Page 305] to understand that he raised the issue only because of the trust which existed between the two Ministers. A confrontation over such questions would be in the interest of neither side.

Turning to what he described as another “important question,” Shevardnadze observed that it had been no accident that the Soviet proposal for a Moscow humanitarian issues forum had arisen in the context of democratization at home. Shevardnadze noted that, when the Secretary had last been in Moscow, there had been no limits on his freedom of movement or contacts. (THE SECRETARY acknowledged that he had felt a totally different atmosphere from previous visits.) Shevardnadze said that all participants in a Moscow forum would have similar access to whomever they wished to meet.

Shevardadze suggested one might wonder why the Soviet Government was being so accommodating. Simply put: it wanted people to know the truth about what was happening in the Soviet Union—how Soviet citizens lived, what was changing, and in what directions. If such things were known, trust would grow. Therefore, Shevardnadze suggested that the U.S. consider whether or not it could take a more positive stand on this issue. Were there to be no Moscow conference, Shevardnadze stressed, it would not mean the end of democratization. The process would proceed.

THE SECRETARY agreed that exchanges of people were important in building trust and mutual confidence. That was why the President had been so interested in exanding people-to-people contacts. It was not just the magnificent Bolshoi Ballet which told us something about the Soviet people, it was events like the Chautauqua meetings.10 (SHEVARDNADZE interrupted to comment on how impressed Soviet participants in the most recent Chautauqua meeting had been, and to recall similarly positive experiences among participants at the Jurmala conference the year before.) The SECRETARY noted that we had also noted progress in areas—such as the issuance of more authorizations for visits abroad—we had not previously pushed.

On the Moscow Conference proposal, the Secretary repeated what he had said in Moscow—we had never said “no.” At the same time, there were conditions which should exist for any site chosen for such a gathering. Some of the factors which the Secretary had cited earlier in the conversation were relevant here and could be addressed in more detail by working groups. So at this stage it appeared that the Soviet Union might be moving in the right direction, but that the necessary conditions did not yet exist. The Secretary concluded by noting that working groups could examine this question in more detail. SHEV [Page 306] ARDNADZE quipped that, if there were a conference, it would be good; if there were not, it would be no tragedy.

Shevardnadze said he would like to return briefly to two areas where some progress had been made—INF and the whole complex of issues associated with strategic arms, including the ABM Treaty.

On INF, it was the Soviet view that an agreement could be reached in a relatively short period. The Soviet side would try to lay out its ideas later in the day, including some ideas on where compromises might be possible. They saw a need for very intensive work. Unfortunately, they had received the latest U.S. proposals11—totalling 50 pages—only the day before. Shevardnadze did not mean to complain, but if he had taken the time to read the document carefully, it would have taken days.

THE SECRETARY said that that was why our experts were along. They could do the reading. SHEVARDNADZE said he hadn’t meant to criticize. His side was also familiar with the need to “harmonize” the views of differing agencies. But if the political leadership did not give an impulse, the process could drag on for months. THE SECRETARY agreed, but said he believed a good deal could be done at this point with a little prodding from above.

SHEVARDNADZE said “yes.” A similar prod, he felt, was necessary on START. That was why Moscow had difficulty understanding what appeared to be a complication of the negotiations in recent months by the U.S. side. He would have more to say on this in the plenary session. At the same time, there were points of convergence, and the Soviet side would like to move ahead. Both sides needed to try harder to remove obstacles in order to achieve mutually acceptable solutions. Perhaps in this context the idea of seeking agreement on key provisions made sense. There were also prospects with respect to the ABM treaty on the basis of the decisions reached at Reykjavik.

We had good delegations in Geneva, Shevardnadze continued; negotiators were negotiators. Perhaps the Ministers should identify points of departure or instructions for the delegations. These could include tentative timeframes or a timetable for their deliberations. Shevardnadze’s fear was that otherwise there would be no agreement and the negotiations would simply continue.

Even if an agreement were reached, Shevardnadze noted, there was the question of ratification. This was of vital importance from the Soviet standpoint; their experience in this regard was bitter. “We want guarantees,” Shevardnadze said, that a treaty would be ratified.

[Page 307]

What then, did he propose? Specifically, he suggested that the Ministers seek to formulate instructions to their negotiators in concrete terms. There might be a deadline of one month for the “first” agreement (comment: presumably INF) and (unspecified) deadlines for the second (comment: presumably START/D&S) agreement.

[At this point, Shevardnadze handed the Secretary a folder.]

General Secretary Gorbachev’s letter to the President,12 of which Shevardnadze wished to give the Secretary an advance copy, had been written in this spirit. Shevardnadze assured the Secretary that he had all the necessary authority to discuss any issues relating to further contacts, including at the summit level.

In a more personal vein, Shevardnadze said he had thought much in the last few days about where the relationship stood. He had reached the conclusion that, even where the dialogue was most advanced, e.g. on INF, there was no guarantee that an agreement would be ready for signature during his visit. The idea had thus come to him that perhaps the two Ministers should plan on another meeting. Perhaps, Shevardnadze continued, the Ministers should task their delegations to roll up their sleeves and prepare draft texts. Within a month it should be possible to reach an agreement.

The two Ministers, therefore, might plan to meet in a month, or perhaps a little later. They could then review prospects for agreement on the “first” and “second” agreements, and thus for a summit.

Shevardnadze was quick to add that he had not discussed this idea with Gorbachev or the rest of the Soviet leadership. The idea had come to him when he received from Kampelman the fifty-page U.S. new INF proposals. Shevardnadze’s people had of course given them an initial perusal. Based on their initial report, it was Shevardnadze’s impression that much work remained before it would be possible to say, “yes, there will be an agreement.” Shevardnadze emphasized the importance of being able to make such a call, pointing out that, in the absence of an agreement, there could be no summit. He urged the Secretary to consider his idea, noting that he did not expect an immediate answer.

THE SECRETARY said that he would like to respond with some “parallel” thoughts. He agreed that the two Ministers should give some political push to their negotiators and “up front” the arms control group. The remaining issues had been identified and needed to be wrapped up. The Secretary suggested that the negotiators work over the days Shevardnadze would be in Washington—and for that matter [Page 308] while Shevardnadze would be in the United States—to resolve as much as they could.

Briefly summarizing the outstanding issues on INF, the Secretary mentioned the phasing of reductions, verification, and the German P–1a issue, which, he noted, the Soviets had raised. The Secretary did not see why it would not be possible to push people to resolve these issues while Shevardnadze was in the U.S., or even in Washington.

As for START and D&S, the Secretary hoped to hear while Shevardnadze was here any problems the Soviets might have with U.S. positions, and for the Soviets to hear ours. The Ministers should try to give these discussions an impulse as well.

The Secretary was intrigued by the idea of another meeting between the two Ministers before a possible summit. He felt that a meeting would be necessary, but not necessarily in Geneva, or with its purpose set out so clearly in advance. His fear was that, if the negotiators knew the Ministers were coming in a month, they would simply wait until they showed up to produce. Would it not be better to get the issues out of the way while Shevardnadze was here, and use a follow-up meeting to push in other areas? Both sides wanted a successful summit. This would require careful preparations across the board. So, the Secretary suggested, the Ministers should let their people accomplish as much as possible, and then take stock Thursday to see where they should go.

SHEVARDNADZE said there was no disagreement between them. He had meant what he said about the idea being purely his own. The General Secretary did not know it had been raised. The concept had come to him when he received the weighty, new U.S. proposal. While he was not in a position to comment in detail, he had asked his experts if it met Soviet concerns. They had said it did not. It had been Shevardnadze’s intention to complete work on an INF Treaty during his visit. This remained very desirable, and so he was prepared to have his experts work night and day to make that possible.

THE SECRETARY said he agreed. He also wanted Shevardnadze to understand that, if it were useful to meet, he would rearrange his schedule to do so. This had his highest priority. His only concern was that the two sides’ negotiators would wait for the Ministers to come to Geneva rather than pushing to achieve results under the scenario Shevardnadze had proposed. Instead, they should work here in Washington. If they did not, the Secretary and Foreign Minister should “whack” them on the head.

SHEVARDNADZE said he was prepared to go upstairs and whack them one in advance. As to rearranging schedules, Shevardnadze was also prepared to do what was necessary. He had a busy fall planned, with a trip to Latin America after his stay in New York, and extensive [Page 309] commitments in Moscow after his October 9 return. But he would be prepared to meet as necessary. Perhaps his idea could serve as a fall-back option.

THE SECRETARY said this would be fine.

SHEVARDNADZE expressed the view that the next summit would have to be different from Geneva and Reykjavik. It would require a major result. Such a result would depend in large part on the efforts of the two Ministers.

THE SECRETARY noted that Shevardnadze had earlier mentioned nuclear testing. Much progress had been made in Reykjavik on this issue, but since then experts had accomplished little. Movement in this area would also have relevance with respect to the ratification concerns the Foreign Minister had expressed, as it would allow ratification of two pending treaties.

SHEVARDNADZE said he agreed. Returning to the question of further meetings at the foreign minister level, he confirmed his willingness to have experts work hard while he was in Washington. Perhaps, he suggested, he was wrong in his assessment of the new U.S. proposals; perhaps it would not take as much time as he feared to reach the necessary agreements. His proposal for a meeting in a month or so could remain an “in case” option—an interim step. THE SECRETARY suggested that the possibility be left open and that the two sides do what they could while Shevardnadze was in Washington.

The Secretary noted that the afternoon session would run for two hours or so, and that at around 5:00 pm he would have to go to deliver a speech before the boat trip. At the plenary meeting, perhaps Shevardnadze could give his views on INF, START, D&S and nuclear testing. Then the working groups could roll up their sleeves and get to work. Each Minister could meet with his group the following morning, and the first order of business at the morning plenary could be a review of what further instructions were needed by experts. The Ministers could then go on to other issues.

If Shevardnadze agreed, the Secretary suggested that the two go to greet their delegations. They could inform them on what had been agreed and what was expected of them. SHEVARDNADZE added “and we could whack them on the head.” THE SECRETARY said it would also be a nice gesture to get a photo of the both delegations with the Ministers.

After a brief review of arrangements for the photo-op, the meeting concluded.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S Records, Memoranda of Conversations Pertaining to United States and USSR Relations, 1981–1990, Lot 93D188, ShultzShevardnadze—Wash—9/87. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Parris. All brackets are in the original. The meeting took place in Shultz’s private office at the Department of State.
  2. See Documents 3846.
  3. Reference is to the Stockholm Conference on Confidence and Security Building Measures, which concluded on September 19, 1986.
  4. Not found attached.
  5. See Document 68.
  6. September 16. See Document 70.
  7. September 17. See Document 74.
  8. President Reagan spoke at 11:13 a.m. in the Loy Henderson Conference Room at the Department of State to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. (Public Papers: Reagan, 1987, Book II, pp. 1036–1039)
  9. Reference is to Pranas Brazinska and his son, Algirda, Lithuanian citizens who were charged with the hijacking of Aeroflot 244 in October 1970 and who later sought asylum in the United States.
  10. See footnote 3, Document 63.
  11. Not found.
  12. See Document 64.