Secretary of State George P. Shultz has told Congress that he and White House national security adviser William P. Clark anticipate no discord in carrying out their respective duties because both expect to serve the president "cooperatively and loyally."
In amplified, written responses to questions raised in his Senate confirmation hearings, Shultz in effect projected an intent to return to the more placid relationship that existed between occupants of the two positions before Henry A. Kissinger entered the scene.
Beginning in 1969, Kissinger dominated both posts, first from the White House and then from the State Department. Disruptive competition between occupants of the two offices continued through the Carter administration and into the Reagan administration, culminating in the resignation of Shultz' predecessor, Alexander M. Haig Jr.
Shultz, confirmed by the Senate last week without opposition, reiterated that "the president controls foreign policy, and the policy will be his," with the secretary of state as "the president's principal foreign policy adviser."
He was asked by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if he "would . . . object" if the national security adviser, or his deputy, meets "officially" with foreign leaders and diplomats, holds press conferences and appears publicly as a spokesman on foreign policy or leads U.S. delegations abroad. All have been major points of contention between secretaries and national security advisers.
Shultz' response was diplomatic, but clear enough. He did not say he would object if Clark ever did that, but made it apparent that he regards those functions as prerogatives of his post, saying:
"I believe that the secretary of state should be the primary point of contact with foreign leaders and with diplomats in Washington. The president naturally is the primary voice articulating American foreign policy, but on day-to-day foreign policy I believe the nation will be best served if the secretary of state is the responsible spokesman."
Shultz also said, "I would not anticipate that the national security adviser would lead delegations abroad."
He cited National Security Decision Directive No. 2, which spells out the functions of the two posts and assigns primacy to the secretary as principal foreign policy adviser.
"Bill Clark and I both serve the president," Shultz said, "and we expect to serve cooperatively and loyally. The relationship will be one of teamwork."
Shultz laid no claim, as Haig tried to do at the outset of the Reagan administration, for creation of new interdepartmental committees dominated by the secretary of state. Nor did Shultz dispute the loss of authority by State when Vice President Bush, to Haig's indignation, was named to head the administration's international crisis committee. Shultz noted that the State Department and other national security agencies support what is known as the Special Situations Group (SSG), chaired by Bush, to manage "crises of major proportions."
Shultz was asked if he expects to have "a greater role" in international economic policy, in light of his extensive experience in that field, including a stint as treasury secretary.
Shultz replied that the secretary of state "is a major voice advising the president in such matters, but not the exclusive one, since many other parts of the government will have legitimate interests in the issues."
Shultz projected a placid relationship as well with United Nations Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Haig's special nemesis. "I certainly intend to work closely with Ambassador Kirkpatrick," Shultz said, "and look forward to a close and productive relationship."