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65. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Secretary of State/1/
Moscow, May 4, 1961, 4 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/5-461. Secret; Priority.
2710. Eyes only Secretary. Gromyko called me in this afternoon and reading
from paper made following statement. NSK would have liked personally to have
talked with me and to have set forth certain considerations in connection
with confidential letter from President Kennedy/2/
that I had transmitted to him in Novosibirsk. However he is leaving Moscow
and expects return only by May 20. Soviet Govt and NSK deplore fact that discord
has occurred of late between our two countries in connection with events regarding
Cuba. He would not like to repeat what was said by Soviet Govt and NSK personally
with regard to Cuba and US policies concerning that country. Position of
Soviet Govt on this question was repeatedly outlined by NSK personally including
occasion of his talk with me in Novosibirsk. SovGov regrets that the above-mentioned
events have taken place and also regrets events in Laos as they have declared
to USG in setting forth views of SovGov on Laotian problem. But if Soviet
Union and US do not consider that there is an unbridgeable gulf between them,
then both should draw appropriate conclusion from this, namely that we live
on one planet and therefore ways should be found to settle appropriate questions
and to build up our relations. In other words bridges have to be built which
would link our countries. This viewpoint is held by SovGov. Initiative displayed
in regard to a meeting by President Kennedy met with favorable attitude on
part of SovGov and at present it would like to know whether or not proposal
by President Kennedy on meeting and exchange of views remains valid or whether
proposal made is being revised. SU still thinks above-mentioned initiative
is useful for both countries.
/2/See Document 41.
Events that took place lately yet again confirm necessity of contacts between
US and SU including contacts at highest level. Soviet Union owes debt
in sense they have not yet replied by letter to confidential letter of President
Kennedy in which was formulated proposal on meeting. Before sending reply
they naturally would like to know how matters will take shape now. If President
as hitherto favors meeting and exchange of views on relevant problems that
is one thing. If for some reason he now holds different viewpoint that is
quite another matter and Soviet Union would regret if that is so. Gromyko
said he would be grateful if I could inform him on this matter whenever I
am in position to do so.
66. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Secretary of State/1/
Moscow, May 4, 1961, 5 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/5-461. Secret; Priority.
2714. Eyes only Secretary. Much hope that President will maintain plan for meeting NSK. Recognize there will be problem domestic public opinion but believe meeting could be divorced from recent events by revealing date of original proposal. Moreover on questions of Congo, Laos and Cuba President has made clear his firm stance in face of Soviet actions. Believe meeting would be useful for following among other reasons:
1) On short range, prospect of meeting will cause more reasonable approach
by Soviets on such matters as Laos, testing, and disarmament;
2) On long range, Soviets will be taking major decisions at Party Congress for which preparations now in progress and it is to our interest to influence these decisions;
3) Mere fact of meeting will exacerbate Soviet-Chinese relations;
4) Believe Soviets correct in stating that recent events make meeting even more necessary;
5) Consider on balance meeting would strengthen position of US before world
opinion and put US in better position to take strong stand on Berlin and
6) Despite recent sharp exchanges and Soviet actions do not believe there
has been any major change in Soviet policy or Khrushchev's intentions. While
it has always been clear that Soviets seek communization of world
Khrushchev continues advocate peaceful means. Essential point of exercise
would be to further President's policy of recognizing basic conflict of interest
between us but endeavoring to avoid or minimize confrontation of two great
powers in military sense. In this connection at risk being considered apologist
suggest we should keep in mind that in recent trouble spots; Iraq, Congo,
Cuba and so far as I am informed Laos, Soviets did not initiate crisis
but followed their usual policy of taking advantage of opportunities.
67. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet
Washington, May 6, 1961, 1:03 a.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/5-461. Secret. Drafted by Bohlen, cleared by Kohler, and approved by Rusk.
1919. Eyes only for Ambassador from Secretary. Your 2710 and 2714./2/
You should tell Gromyko that the President agrees with the considerations
which Gromyko set forth to you concerning a meeting. The President remains
desirous of meeting Khrushchev. He hopes that it will be possible to adhere
to the original schedule of early June in Vienna but is not at the moment
in a position to make a firm decision on this point. However, he will be able
to give a definite reply prior to Mr. Khrushchev's return to Moscow on May
/2/Documents 65 and 66.
FYI--In addition to the problem of the relationship of the meeting with Khrushchev
to the De Gaulle visit, there are, as you indicated in your comments, a
number of other considerations which the President must have in mind before
making a definite commitment. Chief among these is the situation in regard
to Laos but we should well before May twentieth have a clearer indication
of the probable course of events. If for example the Laos subject is in the
process of pacific negotiations at the proposed Geneva Conference, this
would be a circumstance which would render the meeting easier from the point
of view of public opinion here and abroad. If on the other hand the conference
does not take place and the situation is again exacerbated in Laos, it would
not be desirable for the President to be meeting with Khrushchev.
The President is taking up in a confidential personal message with De Gaulle/3/
the question as to his reaction in the light of the Paris visit to a meeting
with Khrushchev immediately thereafter and this will be an important initial
factor in the President's ultimate decision. What you should seek to convey
to Gromyko is the President's continued desire to meet Khrushchev and leave
no impression of any holdback in this respect but merely emphasize that there
are a number of considerations which have to be examined before a definite
date can be set.
/3/The text of this message, dated May 5, was transmitted to Thompson in telegram 1920 to Moscow, May 6. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.11-KE/5-661)
For domestic political reasons the President would have to be in a position of indicating certain specific subjects that he was to discuss with Khrushchev. Obviously one would be the nuclear test talks since according to present plans they will still be in session in early June. Since it would be desirable to have more than one subject, we would appreciate any suggestions that you have concerning other questions which President might discuss with Khrushchev, with some prospect of progress, to be publicly announced along with test ban topic. The fact of public announcement would obviously exclude a number of questions in particular Berlin, but possible upcoming disarmament talks apart from test ban might be conceivable./4/ End FYI.
/4/In telegram 2736, May 6, received in the Department of State at 3:14 p.m., May 6, Thompson reported that he had given Gromyko the message at 3:30 that afternoon. (Ibid., 611.61/5-661)
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P30