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The President said that he wanted to make two points. First, with regard
to the problem of national independence in Africa, he believed that Africa
had made an extraordinary step in that direction and the United States had
associated itself with that movement on many occasions. Perhaps more could
have been done, but we do have problems with our allies. The President recalled
that in 1956 he had spoken in the Senate about the need for national self-determination
in Algeria. This movement of self-determination is now going on in Asia and
Africa. What concerns us is what will come after these changes. It is here
that disagreement exists between our two countries. The President recalled
his remark about the balance of power being more or less even today and stated
that we were concerned that this balance might be disturbed if some of these
countries should associate themselves with the USSR. A glance at the map of
the divided world is a sufficient illustration of this point. The second point
regards China. The President said that even before he had assumed office China
had made strong attacks against the United States and himself personally,
and this has been going on like a drumbeat ever since. At the same time the
USSR was cordial and expressed the hope that our relations would improve.
The President said that he recognized that China was a forceful nation, that
its population was one quarter of the world, and that it might still further
increase its strength. He also recognized that bad relations between the United
States and China affected world relations in general. However, if the United
States were to withdraw from Taiwan], it would have a strategic problem. It
would be confined to its shores and its strategic position in Asia would
be greatly impaired. This is a problem of security for the United States.
Mr. Khrushchev said that this was an interesting conception with which he
could not agree. Now he could understand the President's conception of neutrality.
Apparently the US recognizes neutrality only if countries are its followers.
If not, no such recognition is given. The Soviet position is just the opposite.
The Soviet Union sympathizes with countries which have embarked upon the Socialist
path but it also gives full recognition to capitalist countries and here is
the difference. It is true that if some country, e.g., in Africa, were to
adopt the Socialist system, that might mean that a few drops would be added
to the bucket of Communist power if this balance of power were regarded as
consisting of a bucket on each side. But this would be an expression of popular
will. If there were to be interference, there would be a chain reaction and
ultimately war between our two countries. Mr. Khrushchev then recalled the
recent visit to the Soviet Union by the Prime Minister of Somalia. The Prime
Minister is a comparatively young man who was educated in the spirit of Italian
culture. He said that he wanted his country to develop along Socialist lines.
But the question arises as to what is Socialism in the view of all those people.
Nasser, Nehru, Nkrumah, Sukarno/10/--all of them
have said that they want their countries to develop along Socialist lines;
but what kind of a Socialist is Nasser when he keeps Communists in jail? Nehru
certainly does not favor the Communist party of India either. However, the
Soviet Union helps these people and this is a manifestation of its policy
of non-interference. If a country embarks on the road of capitalism the Soviet
Union is convinced, and sincerely desires, that it will return to the path
of Socialism. But it will be the people who will bring about such change.
This is why the President's argument regarding Taiwan sounds strange.
/10/Kwame Nkrumah, President of the Republic of Ghana, and Akmed Sukarno,
President of the Republic of Indonesia.
The President interjected that the situation should be viewed in the light
of Chinese hostility. Mr. Khrushchev replied that the Chinese cannot reconcile
themselves with US bases on Taiwan.
Mr. Khrushchev continued by saying that this policy is unreasonable and might
ultimately cause war. He then stated that the United States had surrounded
the USSR with bases. This is very unwise and aggravates the relations between
the two countries. The countries where the bases are located spend money on
their military establishments while their people live like paupers. Thus these
people have the choice of developing along militarist lines or rising. We
must be reasonable and keep our forces within our national boundaries. This
is Soviet policy. The President himself has recognized this fact because in
his speeches he has stated the need for reviewing the deployment of US bases,
in part because of technological developments and also for other reasons.
So the people in the countries where the United States has bases will rise
and the US will blame the USSR for that, but it will be its own fault. Thus,
Mr. Khrushchev continued, the President's argument only fortifies the views
of the Chinese. The US will not leave Taiwan and force will have to be used.
This is a sad thing indeed. Referring to Chinese statements, Mr. Khrushchev
said that the Chinese were against US policy, but then the Soviet Union has
also criticized US policy. Mr. Khrushchev said that he had not spoken against
the President personally and would not wish to do so. He said he wanted to
improve relations between the two countries with the President in the White
House, but he may turn out to be wrong. In that event he would have to criticize
the President too. The best thing for the United States would be to recognize
China because diplomatic relations alone impose certain obligations. The United
States could continue to support Chiang Kai-shek, but of course only morally.
The Chinese position is correct and the United States should settle its differences
with China. The USSR certainly hopes that this will take place. Mr. Khrushchev
reiterated that if the USSR had been in China's shoes, it would have acted
long time ago. He again referred to the fight against Americans in the Far
East and against the French, the British, and Germans in other areas
of Russia during the Civil War. He said that this fight had been carried
on until its victorious end and that any country would do the same. Such wars
are not aggressive, they are holy wars.
The President said that he wanted to reply to Mr. Khrushchev's remark regarding
the US's conception of neutrality. He said he believed that our two countries
with their different social systems or any other country could pursue an independent
policy. Yugoslavia, India, and Burma are extremely satisfactory situations
as far as the United States is concerned. The problem is if the Communist
cause were to win in certain areas and if those areas were to associate themselves
closely with the Soviet Union, that would create strategic problems for
the United States. The same would apply to the Soviet Union if in a country
like Poland a government were created that associated itself closely with
the West. Referring to Mr. Khrushchev's remark that the United States supports
certain governments which are not supported by the people, the President said
that this may be so. However, the President said, if the people of Poland
were given a chance to express their choice, one could not be certain as to
what the result would be. Certainly one could think that they might not necessarily
support the present government. The President then said that certain problems
cannot be successfully settled, at least here. However, he expressed the hope
that the Laotian problem could be discussed in more detail as well as the
problem of nuclear tests, which is of interest to our two countries and to
the world in general. Agreement on this issue would certainly improve the
climate throughout the world.
Mr. Khrushchev said that he wanted to reply on the question of Poland.
He said it was not respectful on the President's part to speak in such a manner
of a government the US recognizes and with which it maintains diplomatic relations.
After all, Poland could say similar things about the United States. This,
he said, is the line of aggravating rather than improving relations. He suggested
that the situation be tested, perhaps by having a public debate any place
in the USSR or the United States, and then the people will say where the truth
lies. Poland has had elections to its parliament, the Sejm, and its election
system is more democratic than that in the United States.
The President interjected that people in the United States had a choice,
whereas in Poland there was only one group. Mr. Khrushchev replied that parties
in the United States were only for the purpose of deluding the people, since
there was no difference between the parties. This, he said, was the opinion
of the Soviet Union, which, of course, did not commit either the Soviet Union
or the United States to anything. In any event, no one should interfere in
the Soviet Union's internal affairs. Mr. Khrushchev continued by saying that
another test of the situation would be to withdraw the forces of the two sides
and have the people decide. The Soviet Union has very few forces in Poland
and has already withdrawn its troops from Hungary. If forces were withdrawn,
there would not be even a semblance of pressure on the people in those areas.
Referring to Taiwan, Mr. Khrushchev recalled the President's remark that
withdrawal of US troops from that area would affect US strategic posture.
This, he said, might be true, but what about the Chinese position--how should
they regard the occupation of Taiwan? If the United States proceeds from
such an assumption, Mr. Khrushchev said, he will be forced to doubt whether
the United States really wants peaceful co- existence or is simply seeking
a pretext for warlike developments. The Soviet Union sympathizes with the
Chinese and this seems to be the only solution. There is no other way out.
After all, the United States might even occupy Crimea and say that this
would improve its strategic position. This would be true. But it would be
the policy of Dulles, a policy of strength. Times have changed and such policy
is doomed to failure. If the US wants to dictate its conditions, that is inconceivable
today. No improvement of relations would be possible in such circumstances.
Reverting to Laos, Mr. Khrushchev said that the Conference was in session
and that it was there that a solution should be worked out. The USSR will
exert efforts to solve the Laotian question and have a government establish
control in that country. However, the Soviet Union will not agree to the ICC's
becoming a kind of supragovernment administering the country.
The President said that he wanted to respond to these remarks without referring
to Poland or Taiwan. He said he agreed that the ICC should be no government.
However, it should determine whether a cease-fire exists. The Soviet side
has claimed that there have been breaches on the part of the forces supported
by us. Our people have said that the [forces supported by the Soviet Union
have breached the cease-fir. The President said he believed it would be a
simple matter for the ICC to examine these charges and to submit its report.
This should take only a few days and then the next step would be the creation
of an independent and neutral Laos.
Mr. Khrushchev responded by saying that the Soviet Union approached the situation
differently. Referring to the President's remark that Viet Minh forces were
involved in Laos, he said that he had no such information and that this
was inaccurate. What is more accurate, and what is an actual fact, is that
military action was started from Thailand by the United States.
The President replied that whether he or Mr. Khrushchev were right the problem was to have the ICC examine the situation with regard to the cease-fire, without action by Viet Minh or any other action. The cease-fire is the main problem now.
Mr. Khrushchev said that he agreed. However, he said that this could not be done without taking into account the forces participating in the struggle. There are three forces in this area and they must agree among themselves. Even if our two countries were to agree, that agreement would serve no useful purpose without agreement among the forces participating in the struggle.
The President suggested that the two countries use their influence with
the people they are associated with to induce them to support the ICC and
grant the Commission free access to the respective areas, so that the Commission
could perform its task effectively. Then the next step would be the creation
of an independent and neutral Laos.
Mr. Khrushchev expressed agreement that both countries should use their
influence so as to bring about agreement among the forces participating in
the Laotian struggle.
The President said that he believed that on this point agreement could be
reached here. He remarked facetiously that this should be possible even if
no agreement could be reached on the merits of the American election system.
Mr. Khrushchev said that this latter question was an internal affair of the
In view of the late hour, the President suggested that perhaps, if there
was a chance, the question of nuclear tests could be discussed during the
dinner given by the Austrian President, so that tomorrow most of the time
could be devoted to the problem of Germany. Otherwise, both problems could
be discussed tomorrow.
Mr. Khrushchev replied that he would like to connect the questions of nuclear
tests and disarmament. He said that he would set forth his position on this
issue as well as, of course, on Germany. The main problem in this latter
matter is that of a peace treaty. The Soviet Union hopes that the US will
understand this question so that both countries can sign a peace treaty together.
This would improve relations. But if the United States refuses to sign a
peace treaty, the Soviet Union will do so and nothing will stop it.
The conversation ended at 6:45 P.M.
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P45