A Western ConsensusIn the postwar period, East-West relations were almost an exclusive preserve of Soviet and American policies and negotiations, just as the major European crises of this period were predominantly Soviet-American confrontations.
Today our Western European allies are properly anxious to make their own contribution to East-West negotiations. They will increasingly assert their own judgment and interests in doing so. A wide variety of contacts and negotiations are proceeding today, involving different participants in different forums on several issues: The United States is negotiating with the U.S.S.R. in SALT.
The United States, the Soviet Union, the U.K. and France are holding Four Power talks at the U.N. on the Middle East. The same four powers are negotiating in Europe on Berlin.
The Federal Republic of Germany has negotiated new treaties with the U.S.S.R. and Poland, and may soon open talks with Czechoslo- vakia. For the first time the Chancellor of the Federal Republic has met with the East German Premier.
France reached agreement with the U.S.S.R. in 1970 for periodic consultation on major world issues.
NATO allies have conversed bilaterally with Warsaw Pact countries on a Conference on European Security, as well as on the question of mutual reduction of forces in Europe.
At issue are major national questions (such as the relationship between East and West Germany), basic regional problems (such as mutual force reductions), and the overall U.S.-Soviet strategic relationship. Whatever the issue, however, its resolution will engage the interests of NATO and Europe as a whole.
Obviously, the Western countries do not have identical national concerns and cannot be expected to agree automatically on priorities or solutions. Each ally is the best judge of its own national interest. But our principal objective should be to harmonize our policies and insure that our efforts for detente are complementary. A differentiated detente, limited to the U.S.S.R. and certain Western allies but not others, would be illusory. It would cause strains among allies. It would turn the desire for detente into an instrument of political warfare. Far from contributing to reconciliation in Europe, it would postpone it indefinitely.
Today's pursuit of detente is taking place simultaneously with efforts to strengthen the economic and political solidarity of Western Europe. The West cannot afford to allow the momentum of individual approaches to the East to put allies inadvertently in the painful position of having to choose between their national concerns and their European responsibilities.
East-West detente and Western cohesion can be mutually supporting, if the alliance consults thoughtfully to strike a balance between individual and common interests. The United States applies such a code of consultation to itself; we have been scrupulous to maintain a dialogue with our allies on the issues and developments in SALT; in turn, our allies have worked in consultation with us on major East-West issues. It is crucial that this continue,
Our urgent task in the coming year is to achieve an understanding within the alliance on our analysis of the sources of East-West tensions, on our respective roles in dealing with them through individual and collective diplomacy, and on our evaluation of future trends. I pledge the United States to an intensive effort of Allied consultation on these questions in 1971, at the highest level and in bilateral channels and multilateral forums.