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81. Telegram From the Embassy in Yugoslavia to Secretary of State Rusk, at Paris/1/

Belgrade, June 2, 1961, 3 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/5-3161. Confidential; Niact. Also sent to the Department as telegram 981, which is the source text.

66. Washington personal for Acting Secretary. Paris personal for Secretary. Deptel 830, repeated Paris 5140./2/ Much appreciate suggestion I send President my views in connection with Vienna meeting but fear there is little I can say that would be helpful. Am not informed as to background considerations that led to arrangement of meeting at this time and am not entirely certain as to underlying expectations and hopes with which we are approaching it.

/2/Telegram 830, May 31, asked Kennan to send the President his advice, suggestions, and analysis for the meeting with Khrushchev. (Ibid., 611.61/6-261)

I do not share frequently stated view that Khrushchev needs to be personally assured at this time of our determination to resist any overt encroachment that would bring into play our obligation under UN or existing alliances. He is well acquainted with our situation in these respects and knows that we will not hesitate to react with determination if challenged in this manner. He does not, I am sure, propose to offer us such challenges, if he can help it, particularly such as would threaten to embroil us directly with Soviet forces. Whatever pressures he may be planning to exert on US in Berlin in coming period, they are not likely to be ones which, in his opinion, would present us with an overt and clear challenge of this nature.

It would not be useful for me to attempt to enter at this date into discussion of our positions on those great questions, such as Germany, Berlin, Korea-Japan, et cetera, in which Russian interests and our own are both normally involved, which constitute in my view center and source of deepest tensions. On other hand, I am skeptical of usefulness of any detailed discussion with Khrushchev of peripheral situations such as Laos, Cuba, and Iran. Soviet responsibility as a rule is not formally involved in these situations; and where Soviet policies have contributed to their exacerbation, these have been only one of many factors.

It seems to me evident that decisions of eighty-one parties meeting in Moscow last fall rested on agreed calculation, as between Russians and Chinese, that America's world position and influence could probably be effectively shattered in coming period, and the NATO group politically isolated by series of sharp indirect political pressures, ruthless exploitation of colonial issue, and all-out propaganda attack. I think it could usefully be emphasized to Khrushchev that a political program founded on such calculation is not only wholly inconsistent with any attempt to improve international atmosphere but could scarcely be expected to achieve completion without at some point creating situations where our military obligations would become involved and complications created beyond anyone's control. It could be justly put to Khrushchev that inflammatory and insulting language in which recent Soviet statements have been cast constitutes alone a grievous disservice to any efforts to improve world situation and plays directly into hands of those who view with disfavor or despair the prospect of any improvement in Soviet-American relations.

In light of above, it seems to me general tenor of President's approach could well be that (1) basic political problems dividing us from Russians and Chinese in European and East-Asian areas, outside of disarmament, are of such difficulty that much time and patient preparation of public opinion would be involved before any practical negotiating approach could be made to their solutions; (2) we would like to start on the long task of cultivating a suitable atmosphere and climate of opinion in which to tackle these questions; but (3) it is idle to attempt this in face of the impressions recently created by violent Russian statements, by obvious attempt to destroy United Nations Secretariat, and by equally obvious effort to exploit colonial and other issues with a view to blackening American image before world public, distorting American action and intentions, and sowing hatred and mistrust of American people.

Though aware that my views in this respect are at variance with those of many prominent American students of Soviet scene within and without government, I have still not seen evidence to convince me that Khrushchev is an absolute dictator of policy within the Communist orbit or that he does not have to take into account views of other people and parties. Do not believe that hints transmitted to us from time to time along this line (most recently to me personally by Soviet Ambassador here, yesterday) are wholly without substance. I think Khrushchev has, for various reasons, a greater interest in relaxation of tensions between Russia and the West than have his Chinese allies; that it was not without inner hesitations and conflicts that he was led last fall to accept the aggressive Chinese line on spreading of socialism by means short of all-out war; and that he could well use some help from outside in arguing for a somewhat more moderate and prudent course on part of communist parties. For this reason, I hope his personal position, and possible effects of Vienna talks on it, will not be left out of our consideration as we plan our approach to the meeting.

From the particular vantage point of Belgrade, it is evident that noncommitted world now stand at very crucial parting of the ways. If some relaxation of over-all world tensions is not achieved, it seems to me very likely that there will be serious split between that group of unaligned nations which is violently anti-Western and anti-American and that which would like to preserve decent relations with the West. This issue may be at stake in forthcoming Cairo meeting. To extent that Vienna meeting creates impression of improvement of Soviet-Western relations, Yugoslavia, whose influence together with that of Nehru/3/ may be decisive in determining trends within the nonaligned group, will be cautioned against association with anti-Western tendencies. If, however, no improvement in East-West relations is achieved at this time, position of Yugoslavia and other neutrals may be expected to become more difficult; and in this case, as things now stand, there would be small hope of drawing this country generally to the pro-Western camp.

/3/Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India.

Kennan

 

82. Editorial Note

Following his meetings with President de Gaulle in Paris, President Kennedy arrived in Vienna at 10:45 a.m. on June 3, 1961. After a ceremonial meeting with Austrian President Schaerf the President and Secretary of State went to the U.S. Embassy residence for the first meeting with Chairman Khrushchev, who had arrived in Vienna the previous day. This meeting lasted until 1:30 p.m. when the President hosted a luncheon for the Chairman at the residence. Following lunch the President again met with Khrushchev, while Rusk and Foreign Minister Gromyko met separately. These sessions ended shortly before 7 p.m. in order to allow Kennedy and the Chairman to prepare for a State dinner given by the Austrian Government and attended by the First Ladies. Records of the two formal meetings, the luncheon discussion, and Rusk's conversation with Gromyko are printed as Documents 83-86.

On June 4 the President and the Chairman met at the Soviet Chancery from 10:15 to 1 p.m. during which the President was given aide-memoires on disarmament and Germany and Berlin. Following lunch at the Soviet Chancery, Kennedy and Khrushchev met again at 3:15 for about 15 minutes. For records of the two meetings and the discussion at lunch, see Documents 87-89. At the conclusion of the meeting Secretary Rusk returned to Paris to brief President de Gaulle and to report to the North Atlantic Council. The President stopped in London for a similar briefing of Prime Minister Macmillan, while Assistant Secretary of State Kohler went to Bonn to brief Chancellor Adenauer.

U.S. memoranda of the conversations between Kennedy and Khrushchev were drafted by Alexander Akalovsky, the President's interpreter. These records are presented here. Following each meeting the U.S. delegation also prepared summaries that were transmitted to Washington. These telegrams are identified in the footnotes. After the Summit Conference the Bureau of European Affairs of the Department of State prepared a 47-page "Transcript of the Vienna Meeting," which closely follows Akalovsky's drafts with minor errors and repetitions corrected. A copy of this transcript is in Department of State, Central Files, 711.11/KE/6-461.

The only personal record by a participant in all the meetings is Khrushchev's The Last Testament, pages 492-501, and it is incomplete and selective. Ambassador Bohlen, who participated in all but one of the meetings, has also presented a personal account in Witness to History, pages 480-482. The President's Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger, describes some of the conversation at the luncheons in With Kennedy, pages 175-180. Two other accounts based on reading the official records also bear note. Sorensen in Kennedy, pages 543-550, gives details of some aspects of the meetings indicating that he read the memoranda of the conversations, while Beschloss, The Crisis Years, pages 192-224 captures both the essence of the meetings and the atmosphere of the summit conference.

 

FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P38

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