76. Memorandum of Conversation1

  • US Participants:

    • Secretary Shultz
    • National Security Advisor Carlucci
    • Ambassador Matlock
    • Ambassador Ridgway
    • D. Zarechnak, Interpreter
  • USSR Participants:

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

Upon returning from the White House, the group was met by Assistant Secretary Ridgway, who privately informed the Secretary of the incident in East Germany involving the shooting at two American [Page 389] servicemen by at least one Soviet soldier in East Germany. Ridgway showed the Secretary a copy of a draft press release by the US Department of Defense, which was the following:

(text of press release)2

The Secretary immediately brought this to the attention of the Foreign Minister (Zarechnak interpreted the text into Russian). The Secretary urged Shevardnadze to take immediate steps to deal with the issue, so that it would not blow up. He indicated that this kind of a thing could often derail other good achievements. He thought that Shevardnadze ought to investigate the incident quickly, and perhaps the Soviet side might issue an apology. He tended to believe that the information in the press release was accurate, although, of course, he could not be absolutely certain.

Shevardnadze replied briefly that the incident would first need to be investigated. The Secretary agreed. Ambassador Dubinin said that an inquiry would be made immediately.3

The Secretary then mentioned to Shevardnadze that October 19 and 20 would be convenient days for him to come to Moscow. Shevardnadze replied that it would be better if the Secretary could come later that week. He mentioned that there was a meeting of the Supreme Soviet scheduled for the beginning of the week of Oct. 19, which he would only need to make a brief appearance at, but which would probably occupy a lot of General Secretary Gorbachev’s time, thus making it more problematic to arrange a meeting with the Secretary. The Secretary indicated that it would be more difficult for him to come to Moscow at the end of the week in light of the visits of foreign dignitaries in Washington. Shevardnadze replied that the beginning of the week might be possible, but he would need to look at this more closely.

  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. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. The meeting took place in Shultz’s office at the Department of State.
  2. Attached but not printed is the September 18 draft press release. See also Robert Pear, “U.S. Serviceman wounded by Russian in East Germany,” New York Times, September 18, 1987, p. A–6.
  3. In telegram 295788 to Berlin and Bonn, September 22, the Department reported that during a September 18 meeting with Ridgway, Dubinin delivered a formal statement that “made a number of false charges against the USMLM unit, but the Soviets explicitly acknowledged their own culpability in the incident and, for apparently the first time, offered an outright apology, coupled with an undertaking to prevent such incidents in the future.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D870782–0599)