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Volume V
Soviet Union

Washington, DC


130. Editorial Note

In a November 16, 1961 letter to Chairman Khrushchev, President Kennedy wrote that the United States viewed the situation in which the Republic of Vietnam found itself "as one seriously endangering international peace and security. Our support of the government of President Ngo Dinh Diem we regard as a serious obligation, and we will undertake such measures as the circumstances appear to warrant." He asked that Khrushchev, as head of a government that was a signatory to the Geneva Accords, "use all the influence that you possess and endeavor to bring the DRV to the strict observance of these Accords." For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VI, pages 61-64.


131. Current Intelligence Weekly Review/1/

Washington, November 17, 1961.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency: Job 79-S01060A. Secret; No Further Dissemination. Prepared by CIA's Office of Current Intelligence. The source text comprises pp. 1-4 of the Weekly Review section of the issue.

East-West Developments

Now that Adenauer has been installed as chancellor in West Germany and the Soviet 22nd party congress has ended, Moscow is stepping up the pace of its diplomatic moves in an effort to induce the West to agree to early negotiations on Berlin and Germany. As part of their effort to create an impression of reasonableness on Berlin, Soviet leaders since the congress have used a wide variety of maneuvers to convey an impression of flexibility in any negotiations. The substance of the Soviet position, however, remains unchanged from the presentation made by Foreign Minister Gromyko in his talks in the United States.

Khrushchev-Kroll Talks

On 9 November, Khrushchev indicated to West German Ambassador Kroll that he could accept in "principle" the ambassador's suggestion for a combination of four-power and bilateral agreements to ensure Berlin's viability and free access. Soviet officials then passed to Western journalists in Moscow a four-point plan characterized as a "radical change" in Soviet policy, which included some of Kroll's suggestions but was more in line with Gromyko's approach in the United States.

Khrushchev, who requested the 9 November meeting with Kroll, invited him to exchange opinions informally on Berlin. Kroll put forward a five-point plan: 1) a four-power agreement on a status for West Berlin and free access; 2) a Soviet-East German agreement in which the Ulbricht regime would undertake to respect the four-power accord; 3) agreement on "technical matters" by West Berlin and East Germany, as well as the Western powers; 4) a four-power agreement to establish committees on a German peace treaty and disarmament, with East-West German subcommittees to deal with nonpolitical matters; and 5) an agreement among interested powers to stop "provocative propaganda."

In his reply, Khrushchev indicated that he could accept this plan "in principle" and countered with three conditions: 1) abolition of the occupation status; 2) termination of any formal legal or political ties between Bonn and West Berlin; and 3) stationing of a "symbolic" Soviet troop contingent in West Berlin to carry out Soviet guarantees.

On this last point Kroll gained the impression that Khrushchev was less than adamant. Earlier indications of possible Soviet flexibility on this point appeared in late September and early October. A Soviet official said on 2 October that the stationing of Soviet troops in West Berlin was not "absolutely required." According to a British Foreign Office account of the Gromyko-Macmillan talks in London, Gromyko failed to make a "vigorous response" to the prime minister's statement that he failed to "see the logic" of the Soviet demand to station troops in West Berlin. After his talks with Khrushchev in September, Prime Minister Nehru said in a press conference in Tashkent that as a concession the Soviet leader would not insist on the addition of Soviet troops.

The Soviet version of Kroll's plan immediately conveyed to Western correspondents included the four-power agreement on Berlin and the Soviet-East German agreement, but added the vague formula used by Gromyko in his talks in the US--that the Western powers would undertake "to respect East German sovereignty." The Soviet version dropped the details of Kroll's suggestion for four-power committees on a peace treaty and disarmament and merely referred to the conclusion of a peace treaty as the final step. Such exploitation of Kroll's plan suggests that the Soviet leaders view it as an opportunity to stimulate debate in the West and to increase public pressure for formal negotiations to determine the Soviet bargaining price for agreement.

Khrushchev's effort to convince Kroll that negotiations might yield dividends for the West was evident in the premier's statement concerning the wall in Berlin, which he claimed was erected on Soviet orders because Ulbricht was too weak to carry out such an important decision. Khrushchev said that the wall could be removed if there were satisfactory agreement on Berlin, but that as long as the "reasons" for the wall existed, it would have to remain. After Kroll noted that Berlin was the old German capital and that Khrushchev should keep this in mind, the Soviet premier said he "agreed" that the feelings of the German people must be respected and that there should be no "victors or losers" in the settlement of the problem.

Khrushchev's responses to Kroll's point--that the better the Berlin settlement, the easier it would be to handle the peace treaty question--gave Kroll the impression that the peace treaty was much more important to the Soviets than the Berlin problem. Khrushchev had told Belgian Foreign Minister Spaak last September that Berlin is "not too important."

The only point on which Khrushchev became heated in his conversation with Kroll was in reference to the situation at the sector boundary in Berlin. He stated that moving tanks around in Berlin was a "childish" performance and stressed that the West would never induce the Soviets to become "traffic police." The contrast between Khrushchev's pose of flexibility on an over-all Berlin solution and his vehemence on the present situation in Berlin suggests that one purpose of the current campaign of conciliation is to divert attention from the continuing and uncompromising effort to reduce Western rights in Berlin to a minimum.

Moscow reported that Khrushchev received Kroll but said nothing about the details of the conversation. A TASS dispatch reporting on Kroll's recall to Bonn quoted a Bonn spokesman as saying that Kroll "aired 'some views'" that were unauthorized by Bonn, without mentioning them, and cited West German commentators who "admit that, under certain circumstances, Kroll's actions could have moved the negotiations on the German and West Berlin problems off dead center." TASS portrayed Kroll as a victim of "the atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion within the Western camp" and reported that Bonn is ready to sacrifice him in order to restore Washington's confidence on the eve of Adenauer's visit.

Other Soviet Moves

While the Soviet press has been giving relatively restrained treatment to Berlin developments, a speaker at a public lecture in Moscow on 12 November ridiculed the Western response to the 13 August measures. According to the US Embassy, the speaker said, "All they could do was talk." When the East Germans instituted controls over Western civilian officials, the US was said to have made a "show of force"; however, the appearance of Soviet tanks exposed the emptiness of the US action, and US acceptance of East German control was said to be confirmed when the US adopted similar controls on 1 November. The speaker claimed that these events show the West is accepting the existence of the German Democratic Republic, and that negotiations will lead to the peaceful resolution of the West Berlin problem.

Two days before Khrushchev's conversation with Kroll, Gromyko used his informal conversations with the US, British, and West German ambassadors at a reception to underscore the USSR's readiness for four-power negotiations on a Berlin settlement. On the substance of the Berlin and German questions, Gromyko made no mention of a peace treaty and confirmed that the negotiations could be limited to the problems of access to, and the status of, West Berlin.

While insisting on demilitarization of West Berlin and the termination of the occupation status, Gromyko stated that the USSR was prepared to provide the "most formal guarantees" that East Germany would respect an agreement. Gromyko brought up the question of civilian access to Berlin, distinguishing it from military access and claiming that it was not covered by an agreement. He asserted that Bonn had already accepted East German control of West German civilian traffic to Berlin. He was adamant in rejecting any formal link between Bonn and Berlin, but did indicate that present financial and economic ties could be maintained.

According to Kroll, Gromyko told him on 7 November that Soviet Ambassador Smirnov has instructions to meet with Chancellor Adenauer, apparently to resume their mid-August discussion on Berlin. When Smirnov met with Adenauer on 16 August, he maintained that the Soviet Union desired a negotiated settlement on Berlin and would consider any proposals. Adenauer indicated he would continue the discussion after the West German elections. Gromyko said, however, that Smirnov, in renewing his discussions with Adenauer, would definitely not be carrying an invitation for him to visit Moscow.

Soviet Comment on Party Congress

Soviet officials have been seeking to persuade Western representatives that developments at the party congress should be interpreted as a favorable sign for Western interests, particularly in regard to Berlin. Yuriy Zhukov, the chairman of the State Committee for Foreign Cultural Relations, who often claims to have Khrushchev's confidence in matters of foreign affairs, told Ambassador Thompson that he hoped President Kennedy was aware of the significance of the party congress as a victory for Khrushchev's policy of peaceful co-existence. Earlier, on 25 October, a Soviet Foreign Ministry official claimed that the "anti-party group" had opposed efforts to improve Soviet-American relations and implied that the renewed attacks on the group should therefore be regarded by the West as an encouraging development.

Along this line, Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetzov told the British ambassador on 7 November that he approved of the interpretation of the party congress given by The Economist on 21 October. This article viewed the withdrawal of the deadline on a German treaty as a respite for the West which should be used to probe Soviet intentions and to determine what a solution of the Berlin problem on a "mutually acceptable basis" means in Soviet terminology. The article also pictured Khrushchev as a "man determined to stick to his set course" and the policies and reforms carried out since Stalin's death.

Disarmament and Test Ban Issues

In private conversations with various UN delegates, Soviet delegates have urged agreement to add three neutral countries to the original ten-nation committee for future disarmament negotiations. However, at a 14 November luncheon with US delegates, two Soviet delegates said nothing about a five-five-three forum and repeated the old proposal for a "troika" forum--five Western, five bloc, and five neutral representatives. The US delegation believes that the Soviets returned to the troika in order to re-establish a basic negotiating position. In his 15 November speech opening the UN disarmament debate, Soviet delegate Zorin called for "equal" representation for the bloc, the West, and the neutrals.

A Soviet spokesman told a Canadian delegate that the USSR is anxious to start disarmament negotiations "early next year." The spokesman also said that the USSR has detected growing reluctance on the part of the US to begin disarmament talks and presumes the reason is that the US believes such talks would be interpreted as a sign of weakness on Berlin. Soviet delegates have also expressed willingness to conduct further bilateral talks with the US, particularly on the question of a new disarmament forum.

There has been no Soviet response to the US-British notes of 13 November/2/ urging a resumption of the Geneva test ban talks later this month. The sharp attack by Soviet delegate Tsarapkin on the Anglo-American UN resolution calling for a resumption of negotiations on a test ban treaty and the bloc vote against the resolution makes it clear that the USSR will reject the US-British offer and continue to insist that the nuclear test question be considered only in the context of general and complete disarmament.

/2/For text of the U.S. note, see Documents on Disarmament, 1961, p. 594.

FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P69

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