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Volume V
Soviet Union

Washington, DC


110. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Ball) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, August 1, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 460.119/8-161. Secret. The source text bears no drafting information, but was attached to a memorandum of transmittal from Battle to Bundy. Another copy of this memorandum is attached to a memorandum from Ball to Rusk, July 31, which shows Rusk's approval to send it to Bundy. (Ibid., 611.61/7-3161)

Export Controls to the Soviet Bloc With Respect to Agricultural Surpluses

In response to your inquiry, I can say that the Department continues to support the decision reached by the Export Control Review Board regarding export of wheat or other commodities to the Soviet Bloc. Specifically, we do not advocate any change at this juncture with regard to the export control criteria which permit the licensing of wheat sales to Russia and the Soviet Bloc.

I well understand the interest of the Commerce Department in being assured that the prevailing policy does in fact represent the considered position of the Executive Branch. I can also sympathize with them in face of the pressure being applied and inquiries whether such exports are not in conflict with the other actions of the United States Government with respect to Berlin. As you know, a continuance of the present export control policy is consistent with the Presidential determination on Berlin; viz, that we should withhold application of economic warfare measures pending development of the situations that it was agreed should trigger such action.

I believe that Carl Kaysen has also brought to your attention the related action we have taken with respect to the amendments proposed by the House for PL-480, one of which would have prohibited the export of agricultural surpluses to the Soviet Bloc. Just as we feel the House amendment would be ill-advised, so we would consider any change in the position taken by the Export Control Review Board to be equally ill-advised.

George W. Ball


111. Editorial Note

In telegram Secto 22 from Paris, August 7, 1961, Secretary of State Rusk reported to the President on a just concluded meeting on Berlin with his counterparts from the United Kingdom, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany. He called the meeting a "gratifying demonstration of unity and seriousness of purpose." Although there was some disagreement on tactics, "all four of us agreed that formal negotiations with the Russians should come in October or early November." The following day, however, Rusk met with President de Gaulle, who stated, according a memorandum of the conversation, "If you see there is something which develops from these negotiations which is worthwhile, we will join you. But you really are doing it on your own account." De Gaulle continued, "How can we negotiate when Khrushchev insists on what the results will be?" For text of telegram Secto 22 and the memorandum of Rusk's conversation with de Gaulle, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume XIV, pages 309-316.


112. Editorial Note

On August 13, 1961, the German Democratic Republic introduced control measures that effectively prevented residents of the Soviet Zone and East Berlin from entering West Berlin. At the same time barbed wire and other physical barriers, which eventually became "The Berlin Wall," were erected to restrict crossings into the Western sectors of the city. Secretary of State Rusk responded on August 13 with a statement calling the restrictions a violation of the Four-Power status of Berlin. For text, see Documents on Germany, 1944-1985, page 776.

At its meeting on August 15 the Berlin Steering Group, according to the minutes, "agreed that the closing of the border was not a shooting issue" but instead "was essentially one of propaganda," providing an opportunity to "reap a large harvest." At the group's meeting 2 days later, President Kennedy decided that the United States would reinforce the West Berlin garrison with one battle group (1,500-1,800 men). Secretary of Defense McNamara suggested that the border closing "might portend a speed-up of Khrushchev's schedule" and therefore "our own military preparations should be hastened accordingly. There was some disagreement with his diagnosis, but none with his prescription." For records of both meetings, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume XIV, pages 333-334 and 347-349.

In an August 18 letter to Governing Mayor Willy Brandt, President Kennedy stated that "there are, as you say, no steps available to us which can force a significant material change in this present situation. Since it represents a resounding confession of failure and of political weakness, this brutal border closing evidently represents a basic Soviet decision which only war could reverse." In an August 21 memorandum to Rusk, the President indicated that he wanted to "take a stronger lead on Berlin negotiations." President de Gaulle wrote Kennedy in a letter of August 26 that he believed "that the opening of negotiations in the present circumstances would be considered immediately as a prelude to the abandonment, at least gradually, of Berlin and as a sort of notice of our surrender." Nevertheless, in telegram 660 to Moscow, September 3, Rusk instructed Ambassador Thompson to approach Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko in anticipation "that there will be discussion with Soviet representatives in regard to future negotiations" on Berlin. "If Gromyko seems willing to discuss negotiations you might endeavor to ascertain from him what the Soviets envisage as a basis for negotiation." For text of the four documents, see ibid., pages 352-353, 359-360, 377-378, and 388-389.


FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P62

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