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124. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, October 13, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 511.613/10-1361. Official Use Only. Drafted by Mansmann on November 11.

US-USSR Educational and Cultural Exchange Agreement


Boris Nikolaevich Krylov, Chief of the American Section of the USSR State Committee on Cultural Ties With Foreign Countries
Yuri Volsky, Cultural Counselor, Soviet Embassy

Philip H. Coombs, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
EUR/SES--Ralph A. Jones
CU/PDS--Ernest J. Mansmann
CU/PDS--Ann Eckstein

Mr. Krylov said that he had seen Zhukov who wished him to extend his greetings to Mr. Coombs. Zhukov is concerned about receipt of the U.S. draft of the agreement, as time is now limited. He hopes that our draft will be expedited. The present agreement shows that we started to carry it out only in the second half of 1960 and that we lost at least three months in planning. Mr. Krylov said they want to carry out the new agreements from January 1, 1962.

Mr. Coombs stated that he looks forward to meeting Zhukov. We expect our draft to be ready shortly and want the Soviets to have ample time to study it. We do not want to lose momentum. Romanovsky was here and it was agreed that we are both anxious to continue and expand the number of exchanges./2/ Mr. Coombs said that our graduate students have had difficulty in obtaining access to libraries, etc., in the Soviet Union. Our most advanced graduate students are capable of studying in the best institutes in the U.S. The Soviet draft spoke of 50 students a year. Mr. Coombs stated that he was disappointed in this number and hopes to get a larger flow of students in the negotiations. This will benefit both sides. We should not skimp on the number. We also want a balance in the general categories and a balance between the natural sciences on the one hand and the humanities and social sciences on the other hand. We try to maintain such a balance in the U.S. We hope for expansion across the board and for balance. To destroy the myths about each other, we could go further in radio, TV, book and film exchanges. The experience in the performing arts under the present agreement demonstrates this and we should apply it to the other media. We must develop areas of communication immune to day to day difficulties.

/2/See Document 108.

Mr. Krylov said that they want to expand exchanges. We now have known each other for four years as far as concrete cultural exchanges go. We know what is more acceptable in each country. He stated that they are ready to speak about cooperation. They are ready and can cooperate in medicine, agriculture, and technical matters. He said that they had provided for 50 students in their draft because the U.S. had fallen below its quota for academic year 1961-62.

Mr. Coombs stated that we can get more students if we can assure them that their research experience will be as useful in the Soviet Union as their experience here. If we can take some of our brilliant young scholars into Soviet institutes and word of this gets back, we can step up the program.

Mr. Krylov said that in principle, there is no objection in the Soviet Union to letting U.S. students into institutes, but an institute in the USSR is like a research center in the U.S. He said that the institutes cannot incorporate U.S. scholars into their own plans. However, in some fields they could let them in.

Mr. Coombs stated that a Soviet student admitted to M.I.T. gets what a Soviet student does in his own university plus what he gets in a Soviet institute. Mr. Coombs wondered if this is a matter of semantics.

Mr. Krylov said that their students find that a subject is not well done in an American university and want to move to another U.S. university. He said that they have over 15,000 foreign students in the USSR who are genuinely satisfied with their programs.

Mr. Coombs said that we are not talking about undergraduates, but rather advanced graduate students from the U.S. to whom you must give the best research conditions.

Mr. Krylov said that we might discuss this; it is not a simple problem but it could be discussed.

Mr. Coombs said that we must work towards six months advance notice of names and groups. Our people cannot wait until the last minute, or we will lose good people, especially in the cultural presentations field.

Mr. Krylov said that he thought that we could work out things based on our experience with the first two agreements. He said that if the U.S. takes two and one-half months to study the Soviet draft, that does not give them two and one-half months to study the U.S. draft if we are to discuss the agreements together in November. He stated that Zhukov said that he will turn the money over for agreements with other countries if the U.S. is not interested in enlarging its contacts. Mr. Krylov said that the European students in the USSR usually stay one to two years, and are advanced students. The Asians stay longer and their background is weaker, yet they are in a hurry to get home.

Mr. Coombs said that as more new countries are opened up, we get more undergraduates in the U.S. He said that we have about 5,000 foreign students in the country under Department auspices. The total number of foreign students in U.S. colleges last year was about 53,000, of which some 10% received some government assistance. Of the 5,000, over half are fully financed by the U.S. Government; the other half received partial assistance from the U.S. Government.

Mr. Krylov stated that the bulk of foreign students in the Soviet Union are under agreements. He said that there are 15,000 foreign students in the USSR. He added that the expenses of the students at the University of Lumumba are fully covered.

Mr. Coombs said that his job is first, direct responsibility for State Department exchanges and second, coordination and policy-making for all U.S. exchanges. He pointed out that several government departments are involved in exchanges; ICA has about 5,000. HEW and AEC, etc., are concerned with specialized exchanges.

Mr. Krylov said that in the USSR, they have a simpler system--the Committee handles all the exchanges.

The meeting ended with expressions of good wishes on both sides./3/

/3/In a telephone conversation with Siscoe on October 18 Secretary Rusk initially suggested that the Soviets be given a U.S. draft exchanges agreement that could be discussed later. After Siscoe said that the Department of State was ready to do this but hesitated lest international developments change the situation, Rusk agreed to wait for the next Soviet move on Berlin in order to emphasize to Moscow that all was not business as usual. (Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192)


125. Editorial Note

In an October 16, 1961, letter to Chairman Khrushchev, President Kennedy raised the issue of Laos, questioning whether a situation as complex as Berlin could be settled peacefully if one much simpler in many ways, such as Laos, could not. "I do not say that the situation in Laos and the neighboring area must be settled before negotiations begin over Germany and Berlin; but certainly it would greatly improve the atmosphere." Kennedy noted as well that "the acceleration of attacks on South Viet-Nam, many of them from within Laotian territory, are a very grave threat to peace in that area and to the entire kind of world-wide accommodation you and I recognize to be necessary." For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VI, pages 38-44.

Kennedy devoted the greater part of his October 16 letter to Berlin and Germany, largely restating U.S. views on the issue, though emphasizing his willingness to look for a pragmatic resolution with which both sides could live. He agreed to have Ambassador Thompson conduct discussions on the issue with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko. In an October 20 letter to General Norstad, Supreme Commander, Allied Powers Europe, Kennedy laid out U.S. policy on military actions in case of a conflict over Berlin. "What I want is a sequence of graduated responses to Soviet/GDR actions in denial of our rights of access." Kennedy's instructions to Norstad indicated that the United States was ready to escalate to "General Nuclear war" to defend its vital interests in Berlin and Germany. For text, see ibid., volume XIV, pages 520-523.

Following incidents on October 22 and 25 in which U.S. personnel were temporarily refused entry to East Berlin and an incident on October 27 when Soviet tanks took up positions for a day opposite U.S. tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, Secretary of State Rusk instructed Thompson to meet with Gromyko and convey Rusk's "surprise and chagrin" at the developments, which Rusk found "incomprehensible in light of our talks with him in the US." Thompson was further to say to Gromyko that he "must surely understand that serious discussions about Germany and Berlin cannot take place under conditions of duress and increased tension." For text of Rusk's instructions, transmitted in telegram 1165 to Moscow, October 28, see ibid., pages 545-547.


126. Editorial Note

In an October 30, 1961, letter to President Kennedy, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Seaborg reported that the Commission "as a whole" believed that "in view of the limitations of underground testing and in light of the comprehensive nature of the recent Soviet tests, national security considerations require that the United States embark upon a program of atmospheric testing at the earliest appropriate time." For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VII, pages 210-214.

At a National Security Council meeting called on November 2 to discuss resumption of nuclear testing in the atmosphere, Central Intelligence Agency analyses of recent Soviet tests were presented, indicating that there had been 37 or perhaps 39 tests at 3 sites, the largest detonation possibly exceeding 60 megatons. The tests had impressed the intelligence community with their broad nature. In subsequent discussion, Seaborg stated "that if the US tested only underground while the Soviets tested in the atmosphere, we would be in no position to compete with them." The President indicated his intention to release a statement to the effect that "no decision has yet been made on testing in the atmosphere, but that authorization has been given to undertake preparation for testing." For text of the memorandum of the meeting, see ibid., pages 217-222. For text of the President's statement released to the press later the same day, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pages 692-693.


FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P67

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