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November 21, 1990

Record of Conversation between M. S. Gorbachev and Canadian Prime Minister B. Mulroney in Paris

This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation


between M.S. Gorbachev and the Prime Minister of Canada, B. Mulroney



Paris, 21 November 1990



M.S. GORBACHEV.  First of all, I want to note that you and I are participating in a great event.  Three or four years ago, nothing of the kind could have been talked about.  Not long ago at all, this idea was received guardedly.


I liked your speech.  Both for its wide range and for its contents.  Even at today’s meeting, at times drafts from the past were blowing, but on the whole, one can talk about forward movement.  A great goal engenders great energy.  We see how this new dynamic of coordination and cooperation is beginning to work.  Our relations with Canada are also taking on new dimensions.  That is happening both in our political relations, the economy, and in human contacts.  In that spirit I welcome you, Mr. Prime Minister.  Considering the limits on our time, I want right away to ask: what did you want to discuss?


B. MULRONEY.  On the whole, the Persian Gulf.  I would also like to express some thoughts in continuation of G. Clark and E.A. Shevardnadze’s discussion on trade issues.  


But first I wanted to ask whether you have noticed here at the meeting of the CSCE [Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe] that the old western tradition of ascribing the paternity of successful ideas to oneself is cropping up everywhere.  There are many candidates for it.  However, the idea of such a summit is yours.  


M.S. GORBACHEV.  But nothing would have become of it if it were not for the new spirit of cooperation, the new character of relations with the United States, Canada, and the European countries.  


B. MULRONEY.  If there is a good idea, one must concern oneself with its authorship.  Otherwise some “energetic fellows” can “carry it off.”


Now about the Persian Gulf.  Canada is present there. We are interested in overcoming the aggression, in unconditional compliance with the UN resolutions, and in a peaceful settlement.  At present it is necessary to strengthen the UN and the authority of its resolutions.


For President Bush, perhaps, the most dangerous enemy is time.  An erosion of public support for his position is taking place.  That has already happened.  And he is concerned that time is going but there are no visible results.  That is why it is so important to undertake all necessary actions within the framework of the UN in order to ensure the quickest possible solution to the problem through political, peaceful means.  


Among those who are suffering most of all from the consequences of Iraq’s aggression are the populations of developing countries, of the Third World.  Over the past two months, we in Canada have been carefully studying the financial consequences of the rise in the price of oil for the economies of those countries.  We consider it important to get across the following idea to Saddam Hussein: the people who are suffering first and foremost are not those in Canada, the US, or the Soviet Union, but those in countries like Senegal and Zimbabwe.  Within the framework of the Commonwealth and the Organization of Francophone Countries, through such leaders as the President of Senegal, Diuf, we are making efforts to get across the truth about the sufferings of the Third World to Saddam.  


M.S. GORBACHEV.  I am afraid that he will not heed it.  Saddam has his own logic.  He will simply say that the Third World is suffering because of the intrigues of the imperialists, who are now also supported by the Soviet Union.


At present it is important to step up the pressure on the Iraqi regime.  It is important not to lose sight of our touchstones [orientiry].  The most important of them includes the fact that the problem was resolved by way of a political settlement.  Even the military-demonstrative pressure must be subordinated to this goal.  A military resolution would be fraught with grave consequences.  That is both the human losses, the destruction of the region’s infrastructure, and the reaction of ordinary Arabs, which could lead to an explosion of fundamentalism in the Arab world.  On the whole, it could end up being worse than Vietnam.  


We must recognize that our options are fairly limited.  But we must find a way to increase pressure on the Iraqi regime.  In our contacts with the United States, we are constantly emphasizing the importance of the fact that these actions be carried out under the aegis of the UN.  We must not allow the United States to appear as a “policeman” in this case.  I think that G. Bush understands this well.  And from the very beginning when we spoke of the necessity of acting within the framework of the UN, we assumed that the United States itself needed that.  


At present, the situation is not getting better, but on the contrary, is being aggravated.  Saddam Hussein’s regime has different standards.  He is overcoming the consequences of the existing situation more easily than the US is.  To some extent, it may turn out that time will work in Saddam’s favor.  The United States might not hold out; the situation in Congress is not unambiguous.  


B. MULRONEY.  Yes, very much so.  


M.S. GORBACHEV.  For that reason, we must not lose time.  We must show that in this new phase of international relations, we are in a condition to resolve this sort of problem.


We must cooperate with the US.  That is our common task.  After all, it is a summons to us all.  We are ready to support the idea of holding a meeting of the UN Security Council without delay to discuss the new resolution.  The main task consists of demonstrating that we are all united.  We have agreed to continue consultations with the other members of the Security Council.  


E.A. SHEVARDNADZE.  We have agreed with Secretary of State Baker that the meeting of the Security Council should be held from the 28th to the 29th of November.  And on the 23th of November, I will have a meeting with the Chinese minister for foreign affairs.


M.S. GORBACHEV.  The Soviet Union has specific opportunities to work in this situation, and we will use them.  But I told President Bush and repeat to you: we are not changing our principled position by one iota.  I think that you and we have a good mutual understanding on this issue.


B. MULRONEY.  I agree.  In the summer of last year when the issue was discussed in the UN Security Council, Canada’s position differed quite substantially from the US’s line.  I am thinking of the issue of the possibility of unilateral actions against Iraq.  We were categorically opposed to that.  And we clearly stated this position in the UN, and also in contacts with the United States: the UN must act together; the United States should not act outside the framework of the UN.


[The rest of the document is omitted in the original.]




Gorbachev and Mulroney discuss the potential response through the UN to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.

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Memorandum of Conversation


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Leon Levy Foundation