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Mr. Khrushchev replied that he did not believe that Mao Tse-tung could have said this. Mao Tse-tung is a Marxist and Marxists have always been against war. A vivid example of this position is the fact that during the Russo-Japanese war Plekhanov, leader of Russian Social Democrats in those days, embraced Kotoyama, leader of the Japanese Socialists, as a sign of friendship between peoples. Kotoyama was a prominent leader of Japanese Socialists and he died in the USSR in 1935 or 1936 as a very old man.

The President said that he understood Mr. Khrushchev's point of view but that he was anxious to give him our views. Mr. Khrushchev's belief in the inevitability of the spread of Communism is well known. The President said that he would try to explain how we view the situation so as to make it easier to understand our actions and motivations. Our basic objective should be preservation of peace and if we fail in that effort both our countries will lose. Our two countries possess modern weapons while other countries do not posses such weapons. West Europe suffered a great deal during the war but now it has risen again and is prospering. However, if our two countries should miscalculate they would lose for a long time to come. Thus, his own views notwithstanding, Mr. Khrushchev should consider our views on the development of the world so that the chances of peace should be increased and our peoples would not stand a loss. His own main ambition, the President said, is to secure peace.

Mr. Khrushchev responded by saying that he had often seen similar statements in the US press. Miscalculation, he said, was a very vague term. However, it looked to him as if the United States wanted the USSR to sit like a school boy with his hands on his desk. The Soviet Union supports its ideas and holds them in high esteem. It cannot guarantee that these ideas will stop at its borders. He said that he did not quite understand what kind of conditions, in US view, the USSR should maintain in order to ensure peace. He wondered what the meaning of the term "miscalculation" was. He said the Soviet Union would defend its vital interests and the United States might regard some of such acts as "miscalculation". However, the USSR believes in defending its interests. Moreover, the same term could be used by the USSR with regard to some actions by the other side. In any event, the West has been using this term much too often. The USSR is not a militant country and it does not want war, but it cannot be intimated either. To use this term "miscalculation", Mr. Khrushchev said, it would be irresponsible to make a miscalculation, regardless of which of the two sides did it. Both would lose equally and would be punished equally. Modern war would not be like World War I or II. The USSR appreciates this fact just as the United States does. The term "miscalculation" should be stored away, particularly since its use by the West does not affect the USSR at all.

The President said that he wanted to explain what he meant by "miscalculation". He said it was impossible to predict the next move of any country. As Mr. Khrushchev knows, history shows that it is extremely difficult to make a judgment as to what other countries would do next. The Soviet Union has surely experienced this, just as the United States has. Western Europe has suffered a great deal because of its failure to foresee with precision what other countries would do. Such failure has not been limited to other countries alone. Just recently, the President continued, he had mentioned certain misjudgments by the United States. An example of such misjudgments were certain actions by the United States in connection with the Korean situation, where the United States had failed to foresee what the Chinese would do. However, misjudgment can be avoided and the purpose of this meeting is to introduce precision in judgments of the two sides and to obtain a clearer understanding of where we are going.

Mr. Khrushchev said he agreed with this and this was how he too regarded the meeting. The purpose of this conversation was not to worsen but to improve the relations between the two countries and if the President and himself should succeed in this effort, the expenses incurred in connection with the meeting would be well justified. On the other hand, if they should fail, not only the expenses would not be justified, but--what is much more important--the hopes of the peoples would be frustrated.

At this point the group moved to the dining room for lunch.

 

84. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Vienna, June 3, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, USSR. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Akalovsky and approved by the White House on June 23. The meeting was held at the American Ambassador's residence.

SUBJECT
Vienna Meeting Between The President and Chairman Khrushchev

PARTICIPANTS:
Listed on Page 4

During lunch the conversation was mostly of a social nature. The points of significance that emerged were the following:

(1) During the discussion of the history of the Laotian Conference, Mr. Khrushchev said that the conference had found a good solution for Viet Nam and said that perhaps the same would happen this time.

(2) In discussing agricultural problems in the Soviet Union, Mr. Khrushchev stressed the need for a great increase in their chemical production so as to ensure sufficient quantities of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, etc. He also mentioned that about 25 to 30% of the USSR's population were engaged in agriculture. He also implied that he had direct channels of communication to Mr. Garst, who had denied a statement Secretary Rusk had made to Mr. Gromyko about the development of dwarf corn in the United States.

(3) With reference to Gagarin's flight,/2/ Mr. Khrushchev said that prior to the launching there were many unknown factors, particularly with regard to the psychological effects of such flights on human beings. Prior to the flight there was some fear of entrusting Gagarin with the controls of the space craft. Nevertheless, he was given the controls but the instructions were coded and sealed in an envelope. The code was developed in such a way as to make sure that only a normal person could decode it. Now everything is known: Gagarin has made his flight, and he sang songs while in orbit.

/2/A reference to Major Yuri Gagarin's orbital flight of the earth in April.

(4) With regard to the possibility of launching a man to the moon, Mr. Khrushchev said that he was cautious because of the military aspect of such flights. In response to the President's inquiry whether the US and the USSR should go to the moon together, Mr. Khrushchev first said no, but then said "all right, why not?"

(5) In raising his glass to the health of his guest, the President expressed satisfaction that Mr. Khrushchev was here at the American Embassy. He recalled Mr. Khrushchev's visit to the United States and expressed appreciation that he had come to see us and learn about the way our people live. The President also said that we admired Mr. Khrushchev's vigor and energy he devotes to the cause in which he believes and to his country. While we may not always agree with his views, we appreciate his influence on the matters affecting the relations between our two countries. The President expressed the hope that during these two days a better understanding of world events could be reached. The President also recalled that his predecessor had welcomed Mr. Khrushchev to the United States and he said that it was a privilege for him to welcome Mr. Khrushchev here on this small piece of the U.S. Finally, he expressed the hope that the conversations would be fruitful and said that it was a matter of personal satisfaction for him to be able to welcome Mr. Khrushchev at this time.

(6) In response to the toast, Mr. Khrushchev expressed the hope that wisdom would be found to ensure good relations between the two countries and throughout the world. He said he did not want to exaggerate the role assigned to the two countries by history, but in their pursuit of peace the two countries could stop, by joint effort, any war that might be started by some other country. The respective views of the two countries were well known and the purpose here was not to persuade each other. However, the Soviet people were also human beings and they wanted their generations to live and prosper. Mr. Khrushchev said that he had had the pleasure of visiting the United States at former President Eisenhower's invitation. He said he respected Eisenhower and expressed regret at the unhappy development of their relations. The U-2 flight had been the main cause of such a development and he was almost sure that Eisenhower had not known about the flight. Nevertheless, Eisenhower decided to take the responsibility for this flight in the spirit of chivalry. The flight was an effort on the part of the people who wanted to worsen the relations between the two countries and they achieved their goal. Mr. Khrushchev expressed his regret that he could not receive Eisenhower in the USSR and said he hoped to receive the President when time was ripe. The road for such a visit was open. The President would be a welcome guest if he should wish to come. However, one note of caution was in order. Mr. Nixon had thought that just by showing the Soviet people a dream kitchen, a kitchen that certainly did not exist nor would ever exist in the US, he would convert the Soviet people to capitalism. Mr. Khrushchev apologized for referring to Nixon, a citizen of the United States, but said that only Nixon could have thought of such nonsense. Mr. Khrushchev continued by saying the President would be free to see everyone in the Soviet Union and to get the feel of their life. The USSR is not afraid for its system. It believes in it and it rests on a sound basis. Mr. Khrushchev said he had always been an optimist and had always believed in the wisdom of man. However, the commercial language of bargaining is sometimes used in dealings with the Soviet Union. The USSR is told "you give in and we will give in", but "what can I concede?" Mr. Khrushchev asked. Concession of even a portion, a lump of peace would mean no peace at all. The USSR is blamed for Communist movements in various countries. But, Mr. Khrushchev said, he did not know even who their leaders were. He is too busy at home. Marx and Engels are the originators of Communism and if anyone is to blame for Communism, it should be the Germans. True, the USSR has adopted Marxism and in that sense perhaps it should share the blame. Mr. Khrushchev said this was just a joke and that, in a more serious vein, he wanted to say that the Soviet people respect the American people. They admire their successes. As a matter of fact, after the Revolution the level of US technology and science was set as a goal for the USSR. American technicians were invited to the Soviet Union, and such people as Colonel Cooper, who had helped build Dneprestroi, and Mr. Morgan, an engineer who participated in the construction of the Moscow subway, were awarded Soviet decorations. Mr. Morgan visited the Soviet Union later and said that he was building housing in Turkey. However, it was known to the Soviet Union that in fact he was building bases there, but this is a matter for his own conscience. Ideologically, our two countries are at opposite poles but this should not prevent them from ensuring a better future for their peoples. Mr. Khrushchev then raised his glass to the President's health and said that he envied the President because he was so young. Mr. Khrushchev said that if he were the President's age, he would devote even more energy to his cause. Nevertheless, even at 67, he was not renouncing the competition. Mr. Khrushchev concluded by saying that he and the President had met well and that he was sure that they would part even better.

FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P40

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