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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 23, 1980


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    This document provides a summary of the main points covered in a meeting of Hungary, the United States, and Canada. The US expresses concern about the Soviet's offensive in Afghanistan, how it may lead to a preponderance of Soviet power in the region. The US contends it needs to maintain its influence in the Middle East-despite additional Soviet influence-as it is important for raw materials.
    "Report on the talks of Gyula Horn, representative of the HSWP CC Foreign Department in The United States and Canada," January 23, 1980, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, National Archives of Hungary (MOL) M-KS 288 f. 5./791.o.e. Translated for CWIHP by Attila Kolontari and Zsofia Zelnik.
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CENTRAL COMMITTEE Written in 44 copies
FOREIGN DEPARTMENT Seen by Comrade András Gyenes
Inf/ 1363


for the members of the Political Committee and the Secretariat


The meetings of the deputy head of the Foreign
Department in the United States and Canada.

/The record of the Foreign Department/

The meetings of the representative of the Foreign Department in the United States and Canada
The record of the Foreign Department

Organized by the HSWP Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Comrade Gyula Horn visited Washington, New York and Ottawa as a courier between 7 and 20 January. In all the three places he participated in the membership meeting of the foreign representation party organization concerning congress guidelines and electing a leadership.

Our ambassadors to Washington and Ottawa informed the American State Department and the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about his staying there and announced his readiness to participate in meetings.

In Washington Comrade Gyula Horn was received separately by Deputy Secretary of State George West, Robert Barry, the head of the group of European affairs, Marshall D. Shulman, the minister's counselor in Soviet Matters, James E. Goodby, the head of the group dealing with European security and the questions of the NATO. He had a meeting with E. Larraby, a leading member of the National Security Council and the leaders of the Georgetown University Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In New York, on the initiative of our ambassador to Washington, rabbi Arthur Schneier, being the president of several American foundations and the member of several institutions including the Foreign Council, organized a meeting in his flat with the leading representatives of great financial and economic monopolies and religious organizations. A meeting took place with Helen Winter, the foreign secretary of the United States' Communist Party.

In Ottawa Comrade Horn was received by Klaus Goldschlag deputy foreign minister and his leading colleagues.

The recurring element of the conversations in the various meetings was that they welcomed the opportunity for the exchange of opinions, which was extremely important in such a strained situation, without exception, the conversations were centered around the international relations of the events in Afghanistan.

The Americans emphasized that the Soviet Union's direct interference in Afghanistan meant a change in the quality of international political relations and especially in Eastern-Western relations. The United Sates could not accept that the Soviet Union should use its advantage in the sphere of traditional arms outside the borders of the Eastern-European alliance, namely in an area that was extremely important in providing for the United States' needs for raw material. The event might constitute a significant drawback in the process of easing, and considering the headway made by the Soviet Union in Angola, Ethiopia, South-Yemen and in the development of their armed forces and the increase in their military power, hopes for easing had become weaker in the United States.

According to American evaluations, in 1972 - that is at the beginning of easing - there was an approximate balance in the armed forces of the two great powers. According to 1979 surveys, the general balance in power changed to the advantage of the Soviet Union. Thus, in the past period, new conditions had appeared in the international strategic relations. But what caused the biggest problem for the United States was that it could not assess the Soviet intention, to what extent the Soviet Union wanted to increase her power and to what extent she wanted to exploit the imbalance in power relations to its advantage in the areas that were crucially important to the West. Therefore the United States would have to react to the present situation by scaring off the Soviet Union from making such steps. The American leadership had already received much criticism for the military's inability in Iran and elsewhere while the Soviet Union put to practice those necessary measures that enabled her to protect her basic interests.

Concerning this, during the New York meeting the leading representatives of the monopoly capitalist groups unanimously emphasized that the Soviet Union had to prepare for an extremely hard fight. Practically all conditions were given for the United States to step forward. In principle, the Soviet action carried out in Afghanistan meant putting the last obstacles out of the way leading to the increase in the defensive power of the USA and her allies to an extent that would mean a leading position. They had also defined that the politics of hard hand required leaders who could meet the new requirements.

There were positions that approached the situation and perspectives of Soviet-American relations from an analytical point of view. Several of them emphasized that the two
great powers had not [been] regulated to the necessary extent the competitive elements present in their relations. The melting pot-like international situation brought unexpected events and decisions that had to be made by the Soviet Union and the United States. The coming decade would have been a hard phase even without the Afghan events. Nor were the two powers successful in regulating military competition either. Both parties blamed the other for their own increase in armament.

The SALT-II could not effectively put a stop to continuing the arms race either, but without the agreement the situation will certainly be more difficult and worse. Besides, the ratification of the SALT-II agreement was expected by the White House by February 1980. According to the evaluations of the government and the senators playing a positive role in the procedure, despite the pressure against the putting into force, it seemed realistic to ensure the two third majority needed for the ratification. But the events in Iran and Afghanistan favored the opponents of SALT, and in this situation the government considered it better to delay the request for ratification. Restarting the procedure of putting into force greatly depended on the general international and internal American political situation.

According to Shulman, when looking for the way out of the situation resulting from the Afghan events, the following would be crucially important:

a) the two great powers should define at the very beginning what is meant by the necessary self-restraint and in which spheres it should be applied;
b) to what extent they would manage to reach the appropriate regulations concerning the competition between the two great powers, especially concerning the arms race.

The representatives of the foreign affairs apparatus expressed their dissatisfaction with the fact that allies of the USA did not follow the United States in the Iran question and even less in the repressive anti-Soviet measures. The Western-European countries and Japan supported the United States less and less in the question of economic boycott against Iran, and they emphasized more and more their position according to which additional diplomatic and political efforts were needed to solve the Iran crisis.

The allies of the USA agreed only not to fill in the gap caused by the economic measures of the USA in Soviet-American relations and not to join those American measures that would lead to the deterioration of their economic and trade relations with the Soviet Union.

The Americans were worried about the fact that the allies' behavior did not make it possible to exercise enough influence on the Soviet Union. They calculated that the Soviet Union needed to buy, apart from the 8 million tons of American corn already under contract, factually another 17 million tons of American corn, the two thirds of which are corn fodder. On the other hand, Brazil had undertaken a large-scale soy-export to the Soviet Union in the past days and similar steps might be taken by several Western-European and developing countries. They also reckoned with the fact that the socialist countries would increase their corn purchases in the capitalist world. It would be difficult for them to prevent this.

They said that the American government had elaborated plans and concepts to ease the military tension, to defend the process of European security and cooperation, to prepare for the Madrid conference, to continue the Vienna talks. As a consequence of the Afghan events, however, the government was forced to re-evaluate its plans. The experts continued working on the elaboration of newer American positions and, although their preparation was not so intensive at present as earlier, they were making new efforts to elaborate and execute the common Western position.

They still attribute great importance to the initiatives concerning European security and in their view, they will serve as a basis for talks in the future too. The decision of the NATO of 12 December outlined the suggestion of the organization about talks concerning the reduction in European armament. In Brussels the NATO experts are working at present on giving a definite form to the suggestions and they trust that the technical problems will be solved by the end of spring. They consider it unfortunate that the Soviet Union has not so far reacted in effect to the suggestions about talks concerning European strategic missiles. They can reasonably count on the fact that progress will be extremely complicated in this matter, and every step depends on the European political situation and the Soviet-American relations.

The Americans studied the proposals of the Budapest session of the Warsaw Treaty concerning measures to increase confidence. They had some reservations concerning the "enunciation-like" proposals, but they did not exclude the possibility of progress.

They emphasized that the United States and its allies had taken one-sided steps too concerning the reduction in armament, such as the evacuation of a thousand nuclear warheads from Europe; the USA's commitment not to increase the number of her nuclear armament above 7 thousand in Europe; the declaration of the United States' and the NATO allies' readiness to hold a conference on European disarmament; the support of numerous measures increasing confidence.

The American talking partners emphasized, without exception, the United States was ready to develop Hungarian-American relations. They underlined that the USA wished to continue the subtle political discussions with the socialist countries in the same way as earlier. Several of them defined that, in the present situation, the relations maintained with the individual socialist countries could ensure the continuity of the politics of peaceful coexistence.

At the same time, they stated that this readiness could not be one-sided, as such Hungarian statement as those about the Afghan question, were of no help. They made it clear that in the United States there was a substantial number of people who tried to use the given situation to change the positive tendency in the bilateral relations. The increase in their influence could result in difficulties concerning the official procedures of the further extension of the most-favored-nation-clause. A lot depended on how far the official Hungarian circles would go in their statements criticizing the United Sates' foreign politics. They consider it also extremely important that the Hungarians should not make any backward steps in the Hungarian-American relations. They underlined the importance of the Hungarian-American foreign political consultations, of further specific economic talks and of the realization of the talks to be carried on with the Hungarian parliamentary delegation visiting the United States headed by Comrade Antal Apró.

The following arguments were generally received with understanding:

1.) The deterioration of the Soviet-American relations did not start with the Soviet support given to Afghanistan. The United States had taken earlier steps endangering the Soviet Union, more generally the Eastern-Western relations both in the spheres of military and politics. The American efforts to upset the balance of strategic strength increased the tension, decreased the mutual confidence between the two world systems. It was the USA who made the change according to which it tries to show the Soviet Union's behavior in Third World countries in the light of being the preliminary condition for the continuation of easing. This opens up new sources of tension in Eastern-Western relations.
2.) It was the United Sates' leadership that took strict and direct measures to weaken the Soviet-American relations.
3.) The Soviet support of the revolutionary forces in Afghanistan is not the concern of the Warsaw Treaty but the internal affair of the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, but all countries have sovereign rights to take a point of view according to their ideological-political convictions. The Hungarian government's official position was born in this spirit.

During the talks carried on with the representatives of the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the talking partners' evaluation and statements coincided with the American position. At the same time, serious worries could be felt about the increasing international tension, they considered it very important to preserve or restore at least the minimum of mutual confidence indispensable in Eastern-Western relations.

x x x

During the meeting with the foreign secretary of the Communist Party of the USA, Comrade Helen Winter expressed her worries about the latest international events, the repeatedly increasing anti-Communist hysteria and hysteria against the socialist countries, which made the party's situation even more difficult in the United States.

Budapest, 23 January 1980

János Berecz