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105. Memorandum of Conversation/1/
Washington, July 17, 1961.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 460.119/7-1761. Secret.
Drafted by Walter Whitman, Science Advisor in the Department of State, and
approved in S on July 20.
Export of Research Equipment to Soviet Bloc
Secretary Hodges, Mr. Behrman and Mr. George (Commerce)
Secretary Rusk and Mr. Whitman (State)
Secretary McNamara (Defense)
Chairman Seaborg (A.E.C.)
Mr. Dryden (NASA)
Mr. Guthe and Mr. Weber (C.I.A.)
Mr. Hodges presented the questions of (1) any desirable change in policy
on export of research equipment to the Soviet bloc and (2) the specific
case of a Van de Graaff accelerator for Poland.
Mr. Rusk stated the U.S. position as one of openness and cooperation in
basic science. Science is inherently international in character. Many of the
true scientists in bloc countries are not political and to this extent they
offer a constructive contact. The Rockefeller Foundation Science Project
with Polish scientists exemplifies a healthy enterprise.
We should not change policy at this time just because of a potential Berlin
crisis. If the crisis should require certain restrictive actions in the future,
they would be made by policy decision at the time.
Policy might dictate some selectivity between different countries of the
bloc group, e.g. Poland over the U.S.S.R. and Rumania over Bulgaria.
He suggested that Whitman might help the Export Control people if such an
issue arises. He added that the Government should not urge a manufacturer
to sell equipment to a bloc country against his wishes. He ended with the
observation that attempts to restrict pure science might resemble the tale
of King Canute and the Tide. He then left the meeting but returned later.
Mr. McNamara said that, while pure research of course may have an effect
on military capability, the Department of Defense should object to export
only if the proposed shipment added a substantial increment of military power.
Otherwise, political considerations were the dominant factors and the State
Department should therefore be the judge. He believed that the Department
of Defense has in the past been much too restrictive about exports of scientific
He recommended that a 30-day time limit be established for giving a Yes or No answer after a request for an export license has been received, pointing out the disadvantage of long-delayed decisions when the real issues are political.
Mr. Hodges commented that the working group in Commerce should not make decisions between different bloc countries on their own judgment and that they should expect guidance from State on such policy matters. He anticipated that a decision to ship the accelerator to Poland would bring criticism but he was quite willing to take it if he were assured of support. Mr. Rusk, Mr. McNamara and Dr. Seaborg volunteered support.
Mr. Hodges then announced that (1) shipment of the accelerator will be approved, (2) he is satisfied that basic policy should not be changed at this time and (3) the 30-day time limit proposed by Mr. McNamara is to be adopted.
106. Editorial Note
On March 17, 1961, Secretary of State Rusk transmitted to President Kennedy
the draft of an air transport agreement with the Soviet Union. (Department
of State, NSAMs: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM 32) Following approval by the President
on March 21 (NSAM 32, ibid.; Claflin, The President Wants To Know,
page 55), the draft was sent to the Soviet Embassy, and the two sides agreed
to begin discussion of the agreement at Washington on July 18. James M.
Landis, Special Assistant to the President, chaired the U.S. delegation,
while Colonel General Yevgeni E. Loginov, Chief of the Main Administration
of the Soviet Air Fleet, led the Soviet delegation. A copy of Landis' instructions
for the negotiations is in Department of State, Central Files, 611.6194/7-1861.
The delegations met 11 times before reaching an agreement on a draft text
on August 4. Records of these meetings are ibid., 611.6194/7- 1861 through
8-461 and 911.7261/7-861 through 8-361. Two days later in requesting authority
to sign the agreement, the Bureau of Economic Affairs, Department of State,
pointed out that the U.S. objectives in the negotiations had been achieved,
including agreement to direct reciprocal flights between New York and Moscow,
a commitment by the Soviet Union to adhere to applicable International
Civil Aviation Organization standards, provisions for the inspection of each
side's aircraft, and Soviet agreement not to land at airfields where U.S.
or allied military forces were stationed. (Memorandum from E to the Acting
Secretary of State; ibid., 611.6194/8-1061)
However, in response to the closing of the sector border between East and
West Berlin on August 13, President Kennedy decided "that this was not an
appropriate time to sign a bilateral air agreement with the Soviets in view
of the international situation." (Kohler memorandum for the files, August
18; ibid., 611.6194/8-1861) The Department of State informed the Soviet Embassy
along these lines on August 19, and 2 days later Deputy Under Secretary of
State for Political Affairs U. Alexis Johnson and Loginov initialed the agreement
rather than signing it. (Telegram 497 to Moscow, August 21; ibid., 611.6194/8-2161)
107. Editorial Note
In a July 20, 1961, memorandum to President Kennedy, Robert Komer of the National Security Council Staff recommended "stepping up the momentum in South Vietnam. I believe it very important that this government have a major anti-Communist victory to its credit in the six months before the Berlin crisis is likely to get really hot. Few things would be better calculated to show Moscow and Peiping that we mean business than an obvious (if not yet definitive) turnaround in Vietnam." For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume I, pages 234-236.
108. Memorandum of Conversation/1/
Washington, July 27, 1961.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 511.613/7-2761. Official
Use Only. Drafted by Perry.
U.S.-U.S.S.R. Exchanges (Meeting with Mr. Coombs)
Mr. S.K. Romanovsky, Deputy Chairman of the Soviet State Committee for Cultural
Relations with Foreign Countries
Mr. V.M. Kamenev, Deputy Chief of the American Section of the Committee
Mr. Yuri I. Volsky, Cultural Counselor, Soviet Embassy
Mr. Dmitri D. Muraviev, First Secretary, Soviet Embassy
Mr. Sokolov, Interpreter, Soviet Embassy
CU--Mr. Philip H. Coombs
CU--Mr. Max Isenbergh
EUR/SES--Frank G. Siscoe
EUR/SES--Jack R. Perry
LS--Miss Natalie Kushnir
Mr. Coombs welcomed Messrs. Romanovsky and Kamenev to this country and to
the discussions on American-Soviet exchanges, and expressed the hope that
the promising cultural ties between our countries would continue to develop.
Mr. Romanovsky thanked Mr. Coombs for the opportunity to visit with him and to discuss the exchange program. Mr. Romanovsky then made the following statement:
The Soviet Union believed in the widest possible contacts through cultural,
educational and scientific-technical exchanges. The present exchanges agreement
and the previous one have proved that both countries gain from this contact.
Enough time has passed to judge the value of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Exchanges Agreement
of November 21, 1959:/2/ in the Soviet view,
it has been fulfilled satisfactorily. In some sections of the Agreement, however,
there has been unsatisfactory implementation owing to the attitude of the
American side: for example, in exchanges of scientists, films, and of representatives
of social organizations. The Soviet side wishes to remove these obstacles,
and wished to discuss concrete ways of so doing.
/2/For text of this agreement, see 10 UST, p. 1934.
As you know, Mr. Romanovsky continued, the Soviet Union stands for further
development of exchanges, and proposes negotiations for a new exchanges agreement
to cover 1962-1963; we know from your statements that you agree. Taking into
consideration the established scientific, technical and cultural relations
between our countries, the Soviet side believes we should put these relations
on a firmer legal basis. The Soviet side would like to sign a Cultural Convention
on the principles of scientific, technical and cultural exchanges. However,
knowing American difficulties in signing such a convention, the Soviet side
proposes an exchange of letters between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of
the U.S.S.R. and the Secretary of State concerning the principles of exchanges.
Mr. Romanovsky then read the text of the Soviet draft letter, and presented copies. (A translation is appended.) Mr. Romanovsky concluded that the Soviet side was interested in hearing concrete proposals for the 1962-1963 agreement, and observed that the Soviet proposals aimed at a further strengthening of ties between the countries.
Mr. Coombs said that he wished to welcome Messrs. Romanovsky and Kamenev
again, and that he was sure their presence meant a genuine interest in expanding
exchanges. He pointed out that although he was new in his present position,
having been in the field of education before, he was greatly interested in
furthering international exchanges, and was especially interested in American-Soviet
exchanges. Mr. Coombs said this Administration had already shown the great
interest it had in educational and cultural exchanges. In fact, he added,
the existence of an Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs
demonstrated the importance we attached to this field. For his own part, he
said, when he looked at the brief period American- Soviet exchanges had
been carried on, he was impressed not with the difficulties but with the progress
made in such a short time.
Mr. Coombs then made the following statement:
Our countries have two fundamental areas of agreement with regard to exchanges:
first, we have both found our experience to date in exchanges desirable and
beneficial; second, we both want to move on, to enlarge and improve exchanges.
Both sides could cite impediments, but there is little to gain from charges
and counter-charges in these discussions. The United States side was heartened
by the action of the Soviet Government in improving access of American
exchange students and professors to laboratories and archives in the U.S.S.R.,
and in enabling them to travel more freely. We were especially pleased at
this, because the absence of these facilities make it difficult for our ablest
students to go to the U.S.S.R. for a year instead of continuing their studies
at home. We hope this action augurs well for future exchanges. We agree that
if we can use your visit to discuss specific points for improvement, then
further negotiations for a new concrete exchange arrangement can proceed more
For our part, Mr. Coombs continued, we have numerous specific points in mind, of which a few might be cited as examples:
1. In the academic field, we hope for an increase in the exchange of able graduate students, and hope also for the exchange of professors for a sufficient period of time to make their visits useful. The key to this exchange is creating conditions in each country that will make it possible for the best students and professors to devote this time to study in the other country. For our students and professors, going to the U.S.S.R. is entirely voluntary, and they have many alternatives; they must see Soviet study as the best alternative or we cannot persuade them to go. We hope also that this exchange will be well balanced, with participation from students in all major fields--from scientific to humanistic--across the full academic spectrum.
2. Another step forward in the academic realm would be in the field of language
study. Russian study has been limited in the United States, and we welcome
the opportunity to send language students to the U.S.S.R., to have Soviet
teachers here, and to contribute also to Soviet study of English.
3. Another mutually beneficial exchange would be in the field of educational administration: how to organize and conduct an educational system. We all have problems of expanding and improving our school systems, and can certainly learn from each other.
4. We are very much interested in bringing our peoples into closer contact
through books, magazines, radio-television, and so forth. Only through this
wider informational contact can we move more rapidly toward better understanding
and elimination of misconceptions. We feel that at present American citizens
who want to learn about the U.S.S.R. have more opportunity than your citizens
who want to learn about us. For example, Soviet books are sold freely in American
bookstores, but Soviet citizens do not have access to American publications.
If we are serious about expanding mutual understanding, we will expand the
exchange of books, magazines, radio and television programs. We must
face honestly the fact that you do not want to receive American propaganda
material, nor are we well disposed toward receiving Soviet propaganda. But
there is a wide area beyond propaganda--for example, music, art, culture--and
we should expand first in this area, where expansion is easiest.
5. Of particular interest to me is the exchange of educational radio and
television materials. America has experimented a great deal in this field,
and an exchange would enrich both educational systems.
6. Cultural presentations has been an especially gratifying field: both peoples
have welcomed the other's performing artists. These exchanges should not only
be expanded but made more valuable by sending artists to a larger number of
cities--small as well as large--so that wider contact could be established.
It would also be well to emphasize younger performers--talented university
students, for example--for if we put our young people into communication we
shall do more than anything else could to improve understanding. We were gratified
that the Michigan University Symphonic Band did so well in the U.S.S.R.,
and would welcome similar Soviet groups, small or large, at our cities and
Mr. Coombs concluded by saying that Mr. Siscoe would be responsible for conducting the detailed discussions. He said that in his view conditions were favorable for making progress in exchanges. Our two countries have been in this activity a short time together, he added, but we are now ready to graduate from elementary to high school. If we put ourselves in the mood of trying to solve problems, rather than in the mood of a chess game, we can solve our problems.
Mr. Romanovsky commented that Mr. Siscoe was already a professor in this field, and Mr. Siscoe replied that all he knew about chess he learned from Russian masters.
Mr. Romanovsky said he wished to emphasize the interest of the Soviet Government
in the widest possible contacts, and said the existence of the State Committee
for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries showed this interest. As for
Mr. Coombs' comments, Mr. Romanovsky said he wished to say a few words. In
regard to the exchange of students and professors, he said the Soviet side
favored an increase, and regretted that instead of fifty the U.S. side had
agreed to only thirty-eight students this year. As for language study, the
Soviet side also favored this, and as a first step would recommend implementing
the provision for exchanges in this field already in the Exchanges Agreement.
The idea of exchanging specialists in school administration, he said, was
very interesting. As for publications and radio-television, the Soviet side
was in favor of increasing exchanges. Mr. Romanovsky said he wished to point
out that Soviet citizens have more opportunity to know American literature
and books than vice-versa, for the U.S.S.R. publishes many more American
books in translation than the United States does Soviet books. The Soviet
Union was for an increase in this field of exchanges. In particular, he added,
it favored an increase in circulation of USSR and America. He said he agreed
with Mr. Coombs' statement about propaganda. Mr. Romanovsky said the Soviet
side was also happy about developments in the performing arts field, and he
would discuss this in more detail with Mr. Siscoe.
Mr. Romanovsky thanked Mr. Coombs for this exchange of opinions, which he said provided a very favorable basis for the detailed discussions.
Mr. Siscoe then outlined the schedule for discussions: Thursday afternoon, performing arts, education, cinema, tourism; Friday morning, scientific-technical and industrial exchanges; Friday afternoon, information exchanges, and a meeting in the late afternoon with USIA Acting Director Donald Wilson; Monday morning, general summary. Mr. Siscoe noted that this schedule has been compressed at Soviet request, since Messrs. Romanovsky and Kamenev planned to depart Tuesday morning.
Mr. Coombs said he would like to be at the meetings, but was preparing to leave the country soon. Mr. Romanovsky said if possible they would like another meeting with Mr. Coombs Monday after conclusion of discussions, and Mr. Coombs said he would try to be available for such a meeting./3/
/3/The U.S. and Soviet sides met four times (July 27, 28 (twice), and 31)
before the Soviet delegation returned to Moscow. (Memoranda of conversations;
Department of State, Central Files, 511.613/7-2761, 7-2861, and 7-3161)
In the course of these meetings Romanovsky transmitted a Soviet draft agreement
and expressed his regrets that the United States did not have a similar draft
ready, while Siscoe stated that the draft letter from Gromyko to Rusk seemed
an inappropriate method of dealing with exchanges. The two sides also discussed
exchanges in the performing arts, education, science and technology, and media
and printed exchanges.
/4/Official Use Only. The source text is a Department of State translation.
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P60