Archive (Reagan Library)

Cold War: Reagan call to Mitterrand (reporting Washington Summit) (record of conversation) [declassified 2000]

Document type: Declassified documents
Venue: Camp David, Maryland - Antibes, France
Source: Reagan Library: Presidential Handwriting File (Presidential Telephone Calls Folder 193)
Editorial comments: Declassified 29 June 2000.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1,058 words
Themes: Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states)

Declassified F98-016#35
By dIb, NARA, Date 6/29/00


White House, Washington


SUBJECT: Telephone Call between President Reagan and President Mitterrand
PARTICIPANTS: The President, President Francois Mitterrand
DATE, TIME December 11, 1987, 2:23 p.m. – 2:39 p.m.
AND PLACE: Camp David/Antibes, France

The President opened the conversation by telling President Mitterrand that he wanted to get back to him as he promised earlier to provide him with a personal readout of his meetings with General Secretary Gorbachev. Mitterrand replied that he was pleased to hear from the President and wanted to say that he completely agreed with “the President’s initiatives”.

President Reagan said that he knew Mitterrand was engaged with his conference with African leaders and did not want to take a lot of his time. He did want to convey, however, some personal impressions of Gorbachev. He said that he found the General Secretary to be very confident, not at all like a political leader who was under fire. He said that Gorbachev was clearly in charge of the Soviet team. The President noted that he had five hours with the General Secretary. He said that while the talks were cordial, they were also very candid. Positions were firmly stated. While he showed some flexibility, Gorbachev took a very tough line on human rights and regional issues. President Mitterrand said he anticipated that.

On human rights, the President said that there was a little flexibility on the General Secretary’s part, but overall he took a very hard line. It appears that he believes they are doing more than we think they are. What we have been doing, he added, is presenting the Soviets with specific lists of names, and that has had some beneficial results. [end p1]

The President said that clearly the INF Treaty was the key summit event. He told Gorbachev that this was a precedent that needed to be set – toward reductions, not just limiting the expansion of nuclear weapons. With respect to START the President said that real progress had been made toward reaching our objective of 50% reductions of strategic offensive weapons. He said that we also had gotten some real progress on counting rules, and on a sweeping verification approach building on the INF regime. Significantly, President Reagan added, the Soviets agreed to a sublimit of 4900 ballistic missile warheads, very close to our proposal of 4800. They originally had suggested 5100, so they moved farther down the path on concessions than we did.

The President said that with respect the SDI the Soviet rhetoric has changed, but Gorbachev remains adamantly opposed to our proposals. He wants to kill or cripple SDI while his own programs proceed. The President said he would not agree to that. He added, however, that it was significant that we were able to make this progress on START without sacrificing SDI.

The President added that he thought it was also significant that Gorbachev expressed a strong desire to achieve progress in other areas, especially on conventional force reductions. President Reagan said he felt that the prospects for a chemical weapons agreement were also good. At least it is clear that Gorbachev wants to talk seriously about it.

The President said that he had a forceful exchange with Gorbachev on the regional issues, but frankly the General Secretary offered little that was new on Afghanistan or the Gulf. He said he pressed him to set a date certain for a withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 1988, but the General Secretary only repeated that he had a 12-month withdrawal timetable. Gorbachev again insisted that everything would turn out all right if the West would simply stop supporting the rebels. However, I made it clear, the President said, that we would not leave the rebels defenseless in the face of the Afghan army after the Soviets pulled out. We will keep talking with the Soviets on this score, and frankly I think we can work something out, the President added.

On the Gulf, Gorbachev was equally evasive. The President said he wanted to get him to commit to having our U.N. ambassadors draft a second resolution to enforce a ceasefire, but Gorbachev just stalled, insisting that Perez de Cuellar needs more time. The President concluded that he thought Gorbachev was under [end p2] pressure to move on Afghanistan and the Gulf, not just from us, “but from staunch Allies like you, and the moderate Arabs”. So, he said, I think if we keep the pressure on we’ll see results.

The President said much of the discussion related to human rights – it was at the top of his agenda. The President said he told Gorbachev that we recognized the positive steps the Soviets have made, but much more has to be done. Progress is being made here, but there were no major breakthroughs.

The President wrapped up the call by noting that George Shultz would be providing Foreign Minister Raimond with a more complete readout, but he wanted to pass on these personal impressions right away. He said that he thought our consulting so closely had made it clear to Gorbachev that he could not split the Alliance. Overall, the President said, he wanted to emphasize that all of us here were very enthusiastic about the accomplishments that we achieved at the Summit.

The President said that he knew President Mitterrand was busy with the conference and he did not want to take too much of his time. Mitterrand said that the President had not interrupted him and he appreciated the call very much. Mitterrand added that “You, Ron, have done something very extraordinary for peace and disarmament”. What you did moved the process in the right direction Mitterrand added. He said he was glad Shultz would see Raimond and that he would be pleased to see the Secretary if that would be helpful.

The President said he wanted to convey his best wishes for the Christmas holidays to President and Mrs. Mitterrand. President Mitterrand also wished the President a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The call concluded at 2:39 p.m.