Primary Sources

U.S. Plans for Upcoming Meetings with Soviet Leaders

Description

President George H. W. Bush held his first summit with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev early in December 1989 onboard a Soviet cruise ship docked off the coast of Malta. Although US-Soviet relations had thawed during the second term of President Ronald Reagan as he and Gorbachev developed a personal rapport, signed the first treaty between the superpowers to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals, and moved forward on further arms negotiations, Bush’s presidency began with a “pause” in diplomacy as his administration formulated a new foreign policy that came to be characterized by the slogan “beyond containment,” one that sought to encourage a “significant shift in the Soviet Union” and that would allow “the integration of the Soviet Union into the community of nations.” At the Malta summit, Bush presented some twenty initiatives, including efforts to normalize trade and move forward on arms control agreements. Gorbachev especially looked favorably on Bush’s proposals to take incremental steps to normalize trade relations between the two countries during a period in which the Soviet Union was experiencing a decline in industrial production and the purchasing power of the ruble. As indicated in the following excerpts of a State Department internal memo to Secretary James Baker on preparing for the next summit and the Secretary’s upcoming meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, disagreements between the two sides regarding “regional issues”—Cuban and Nicaraguan support for Salvadoran rebels and Soviet reluctance to force the puppet regime in Afghanistan to relinquish power—as well as disputes within the Bush administration itself remained to be resolved.

Source

U.S. Department of State, "Information Memo: Moving from Malta to the June Summit: A Checklist of U.S.-Soviet Issues," 11 December 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

THE ATTACHED CHECKLIST SUMMARIZES THE STEPS WE WILL NEED TO TAKE TO FOLLOW-UP ON THE DISCUSSIONS IN MALTA, BOTH TO PREPARE FOR THE 1990 SUMMIT AND, MORE IMMEDIATELY, YOUR FEBRUARY MEETING WITH SHEVARDNADZE. THE LIST INCLUDES U.S. INITIATIVES AT MALTA AND OBJECTIVES WE HAVE SET WITH THE SOVIETS FOR THE SUMMIT. IT ALSO NOTES AREAS IN WHICH WE MAY NEED TO DEAL WITH NEW SOVIET PROPOSALS . . . .

THERE IS OBVIOUSLY A LOT OF INTERAGENCY SPADE WORK TO BE DONE ON THE VARIOUS ECONOMIC INITIATIVES. THE HIGHEST PRIORITY IS THE COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT. IN THIS REGARD, WE MUST BE ALERT TO EFFORTS BY COMMERCE AND PERHAPS OTHERS TO LINK THE COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT TO THE BILATERAL INVESTMENT TREATY {BIT} SO AS TO MAXIMIZE OUR LEVERAGE ON THE LATTER. WHILE THERE IS SOME MERIT TO THIS APPROACH, IT COULD RISK DELAYING CONCLUSION OF A COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT IF WE WERE TO LINK IT TOO TIGHTLY TO THE MORE DIFFICULT BIT NEGOTIATIONS.

AS ALWAYS, THE MOST DIFFICULT AREA WITHIN THE USG WILL BE ARMS CONTROL. IN START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty], WE NOT ONLY MUST OVERCOME INTERAGENCY LOGJAMS ON THE THREE ISSUES TARGETED FOR RESOLUTION IN FEBRUARY, BUT WE SHOULD BE PREPARED TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES THE SOVIETS WILL RAISE, PARTICULARLY SLCMS [sea-launched cruise missiles] . . . . IN CW [chemical warfare], WHILE IT WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE TO TABLE OUR DRAFT BILATERAL DESTRUCTION AGREEMENT DURING THE CURRENT ROUND, WE WILL WANT TO GET IT TO THE SOVIETS EARLY IN THE NEW YEAR.

THE FEBRUARY MINISTERIAL SHOULD ALSO BE VIEWED AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MOVE OUR DIALOGUE ON REGIONAL ISSUES OFF DEAD CENTER. WE SUGGEST YOU PROPOSE ANOTHER CYCLE OF EXPERTS' MEETINGS AT THAT TIME. GIVEN URGENCY OF THE SITUATION IN CENTRAL AMERICA . . . . SIMILARLY, GIVEN THE SIGNS OF SOVIET FLEXIBILITY ON AN AFGHANISTAN TRANSITION SCHEME, YOU WILL WANT TO BE PREPARED TO ADDRESS THIS IN FEBRUARY . . . . WHILE WE WANT TO AVOID ANY LINKAGE, AN ACTIVE APPROACH TO AFGHANISTAN COULD, INDIRECTLY, ENCOURAGE THE SOVIETS TO LEAN HARDER ON THE CUBANS AND SANDINISTAS.

How to Cite this Source

U.S. Department of State, "U.S. Plans for Upcoming Meetings with Soviet Leaders," Making the History of 1989, Item #233, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/233 (accessed November 25 2014, 5:01 pm).

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