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Press Release

Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State

February 21, 2008

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Vol. XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969-1972.  The volume represents a departure in coverage on Germany in the Foreign Relations series.  Previous volumes covered bilateral relations between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany in breadth, including documentation on economic and military issues, as well as on matters of politics and diplomacy.  Although this volume covers such issues, especially when decision-making was at a high level, more extensive documentation on discussions between Washington and Bonn on international economics and national security has been—and will be—published in other volumes.  Instead, this volume examines key issues in German-American relations in more depth, emphasizing two issues in particular:  the response of the Nixon administration to Chancellor Willy Brandt and his Eastern policy (Ostpolitik), and the secret negotiations leading to signature of the Berlin quadripartite agreement in September 1971.  Moscow was a key player in the diplomacy behind both Bonn's Ostpolitik and the Berlin agreement.  This volume, therefore, also focuses on the Soviet Union, and places bilateral relations between the United States and the Federal Republic in the context of the competition between the two superpowers.  This is, in other words, a "cold war" volume—or perhaps, more accurately, a "détente" volume.

President Richard Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry A. Kissinger, were initially wary both of Brandt and of his foreign policy.  Their suspicions were reflected not only in informal discussions, but also in the formal decision-making process.  The White House eventually played an important role in the execution of U.S. policy on Berlin, practicing "backchannel" diplomacy with Moscow and Bonn to negotiate the terms of a Berlin agreement, while pursuing agreements with the Soviets on SALT, a summit meeting, and the Middle East.  Kissinger established both a "confidential channel" in Washington with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, and a "special channel" in Bonn with Ambassador Kenneth Rush and German State Secretary Egon Bahr (through a U.S. naval officer in Frankfurt).  These secret communications allowed the White House to discuss Berlin—and to link progress on a quadripartite agreement to progress with the Soviets on other bilateral and multilateral issues—and to do so without participation from the Department of State.  The substance of the agreement was too complicated, however, to ignore completely the political, legal, and diplomatic expertise of the Department's officials on Germany and Berlin.  This volume, therefore, presents documentation on "front channel" decision-making, as well as on "backchannel" diplomacy, examining the respective roles of the White House and the Department of State in negotiating the terms of the 1971 quadripartite agreement.

The volume and this press release are available on the Office of the Historian website at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/nixon/xl.  Copies of the volume will be available for purchase from the U.S. Government Printing Office online at http://bookstore.gpo.gov (GPO S/N 044-000-02598-1; ISBN 978-0-16-079016-4), or by calling toll-free 1-866-512-1800 (D.C. area 202-512-1800).  For further information, contact Edward Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663-1131 or by e-mail to history@state.gov.
 


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