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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 17, 1980

LETTER FROM SPD CHAIRMAN BRANDT TO GENERAL SECRETARY OF CPSU CENTRAL COMMITTEE BREZHNEV

This document was made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation

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    Willy Brandt writes to Leonid Brezhnev about issues plaguing arms control negotiations between the US and the USSR. Particular attention is paid to the way the US Presidential election has hampered progress.
    "Letter from SPD Chairman Brandt to General Secretary of CPSU Central Committee Brezhnev," September 17, 1980, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Willy Brandt Archive, A9, 7, Schreiben Brandt an Breshnew, 17.9.1980. Also published in Willy Brandt, Berliner Ausgabe, Bonn (Dietz), Vol. 9, 2003. Contributed by Bernd Rother and translated for CWIHP by Sean O'Grady. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112357
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To

General Secretary of CPSU Central Committee Mr. L. I. Brezhnev

Moscow/USSR

WILLY BRANDT

SPD Chairman

OLLENHAUERSTR. 1, 5300 BONN ERICH-OLLENHAUER-HAUS TELEPHONE 022/532 309

September 17, 1980

General Secretary,

Thank you for your letter on the 28th of August and its continuation of our exchange of views.

I paid close attention to your appraisal of present international developments. As you know from my August 12th letter, I share your concern about the acceleration of the arms race. My concern is that critical developments in the Middle East have not yet reached the place where they pose no risk to international politics or consciousness. The situation in the Middle East has become more difficult--and a list of dangerous areas does not end there.

In this situation, the United States is noticeably consumed by its elections. It is hard to disagree with you when you say that the fate of the world is more important than any election. On the other hand, it is nothing new that elections leave United States only partially able to act. That is one of the drawbacks of a system that also has its strengths. I may add that I am of the opinion that it really does matter who runs the United States. I would say the same for the Federal Republic of Germany.

In other words, I would like to address your characterization of the problem in a few parts: I believe that there is no realistic chance that the Americans will participate in substantial negotiations until their elections are over. However, I am pleased to note that the two foreign ministers will meet and keep the--hopefully more than symbolic--upcoming October negotiations in mind.

It would be worthwhile, American elections notwithstanding, to use the talks to undertake a great effort to make the principle of equality a reality. It would surely be good if the talks could be expanded to topics of real substance--within an agreed framework. You probably know that the German federal government already encourages the American allies to move in this direction. It is important that your foreign minister should carry on this conversation as constructively as possible with his American counterpart.

From now on, German Social Democrats and the Socialist International will place great emphasis on arms limitation. We understand the importance of military agreements to détente and the fate of the world.

At the Socialist International Congress in November, we plan to deliver a comprehensive statement on arms limitation. The statement is based on the foundation provided by Kalevi Sorsa’s working group on disarmament. Questions about medium-range ballistic missile limitation in Europe will surely play a role in the discussion. We will not miss the opportunity to remind the world that these declarations could become political reality. I will keep you informed of the results of the deliberations.

Best Wishes,

[Signature of Willy Brandt]

Copy or copies of the letters

Brezhnev to W. B. on 8/28/1980

W. B. to Brezhnev on 8/23/1980

to

1.   Kalevi Sorsa

2.   Bernt Carlsson 9/17/1980

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