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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 10, 1966

NOTE OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF ROMANIA CORNELIU MANESCU AND FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE USSR A. A. GROMYKO

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    Following a Romanian delegation to the 21st Session of the UN General Assembly, the Romanian Foreign Minister summarizes discussions between the Romanian delegation and A. A. Gromyko, USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs.
    "Note of Conversation between Foreign Minister of the Socialist Republic of Romania Corneliu Manescu and Foreign Minister of the USSR A. A. Gromyko," October 10, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 176/1966, October 10, 1966: file 1-6. Translated by Larry L. Watts https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122587
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Note of Conversation

October 8, 1966

On October 8, 1966, the foreign minister of the Socialist Republic of Romania had an interview, at his request, with A. A. Gromyko, the foreign minister of the USSR. Gh. Diaconescu, Romania’s permanent representative to the UN participated. Also present was S. Celac, third secretary of the M.F.A. and an interpreter from the Soviet mission.

The conversation took pace at the permanent mission of the USSR to the UN and lasted 45 minutes.

1. C. Manescu made a presentation of the discussions regarding the “Regional Action Plans…” resolution (a preliminary briefing made to the gathering of foreign ministers of the socialist countries on October 1 of this year). From the contacts with some countries co-authoring the resolution there is a clear general interest towards continued promotion of this action. Along this line there is the agreement of the same group on an initiative to launch a resolution at UNESCO regarding European collaboration in the cultural domain, as well as the meeting in Belgrade of European parliamentarians.

With the aim of realizing an exchange of views regarding the ways of promoting the principles of the resolution an unofficial meeting of representatives of the co-authoring countries was organized and took place on October 4 at the UN.  Representatives of all of the 9 co-authoring states were present, of which 6 were represented at the ministerial level.

The discussions, within which all representatives took the floor, showed a fresh interest towards the continuation of the actions begun last year and witnessed the advance of some interesting and generally acceptable ideas and proposals for future collaboration. There were, of course, also some suggestions formulated that necessitate attentive study, so that they do not stray too far from the aims and ideas at the basis of the resolution. The NATO countries mentioned the eventual collaboration not only between states, but also between the existing military alliances; suggested, likewise, was the possibility of the participation of the socialist countries in some actions of the Council of Europe and the idea of elaborating a memorandum to gather together all of the proposals made for improving the situation in Europe was advanced.

Within the framework of the meeting a preliminary accord was reached regarding the convocation of a new reunion at the level of foreign ministers, in the capital of one of the co-authoring countries. It was proposed that before the end of the current UN session to hold a meeting at the level of permanent representatives.

The Romanian delegation considers that the reunion of the co-authors was a useful action and positively appreciates the content of the discussions.

A. Gromyko expressed satisfaction with the results obtained in the promotion of the resolution initiated by Romania and wished the Romanian delegation complete success in its future actions in this direction. The attitude of the Soviet side towards the Romanian initiative is known, it has supported and continues to support all of the actions connected with the application of the resolutions adopted at the last session.

2. C. Manescu briefed [the Soviet Foreign Minister] on the October 5 interview with U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

Regarding bilateral Romanian-American relations the desire of the Romanian government to have normal relations with the U.S.A. on the basis of equality, mutual respect and mutual advantage was reaffirmed, and it was underscored that the Romanians were not to blame for the current situation of unsatisfactory relations. The obstacles raised and the discriminations practiced by the American side in the domain of economic exchanges were qualified as an attempt to exert pressure with no chance of success.

The American interlocutors sought to explain the difficulties that the U.S. government meets from Congress regarding the liberalization of commerce with the east. They affirmed that President Johnson sincerely desires to achieve an improvement of relations with the Soviet Union and the other socialist states and they gave to understand that the practical realization of this desideratum is affected by the electoral campaign leading up to the legislative elections in the month of November this year and of the perspectives for the 1968 Presidential elections.

On the Vietnamese issue, the Americans continue to persist in their old negative position, seeking to present the proposals in the speech delivered by A. Goldberg at the UN as a gesture of goodwill that calls for an equivalent reaction from Vietnam. At the same time, the Americans interlocutors have insistently requested suggestions with regard to the manner in which they should proceed in order to begin the process of resolving the Vietnamese conflict.

The Romanian side reaffirmed its known position condemning the aggression of the U.S.A. and supporting the struggle of the Vietnamese people. It underscored the decisive will of the Vietnamese people to fight to the bitter end or order to defend the independence and sovereignty of their fatherland and the futility of any speculation on the theme of existing divergences within the socialist system. All of the socialist states accord assistance to Vietnam and will continue to do so in increasing quantities.

A. Gromyko expressed thanks for the information received.

The Soviet delegation had, likewise, some contacts with the American governmental representatives, within which they discussed the Vietnamese problem. Mentioning that on this issue “they all defended the position of the Vietnamese comrades,” A. Gromyko said that in discussions with the Americans he openly declared that the Soviet Union will increase its assistance for strengthening the defense capacity of the D. R. Vietnam.

At present the American government tries to accredit the idea that it promotes a more flexible policy towards ways of resolving the war in Vietnam, however there is no concrete proof in this sense. The Soviet delegation does not consider that anything new has appeared in the American position. There is nonetheless some information according to which, in Washington, an ample action of reconsidering the U.S. position towards the Vietnamese conflict and towards the issue of nuclear weapons nonproliferation is underway. The future will show if this action produces something positive.

The Soviet minister informed us that in the afternoon of the same day he would depart for Washington where he would have an interview with President Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Since Gromyko must leave for Moscow immediately after this meeting, the party and state leaderships of the fraternal countries will probably be informed about their content directly, in the respective capitals.

3. A. Gromyko explained that the Soviet delegation had recent discussions with the foreign ministers of the U.A.R., Iraq and Algeria, as well as with the president of the UN General Assembly in connection with the intention of a group of non-aligned countries to come to the UN with a declaration on the Vietnamese problem. The discussions proved useful, the respective ministers expressing their disaccord towards this initiative. The same attitude is manifested by President Pazhwak and even by Secretary General U Thant, [who was] initially inclined to support the idea of such declarations. The situation at present is better from the point of view of the socialist countries since it appears more and more clearly that the initiative of the non-aligned states regarding the emission of a declaration on the Vietnamese problem lacks any perspective and minimal chance of materializing.

C. Manescu added that, from the information the Romanian delegation possesses, it emerges that the initiative of the non-aligned countries originated in fact from the Cambodgian delegation. On questioning about this “initiative,” the Cambodgian foreign minister affirmed in a recent discussion that he does not know the attitude of the North Vietnamese toward the idea of the projected declaration. The opinion of the Romanian delegation is that the entire action, which did not take into account the basis of the problem or the position of the Vietnamese comrades, is completely inappropriate. It is, at the same time, misleading and could become deleterious. As a result, it should not be treated lightly, and efficient actions are necessary to combat it from the start and to not let it materialize.

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