DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I have had an opportunity, due to the return of Ambassador
Thompson, to have an extensive
review of all aspects of our relations with the Secretary of State and with
him. In these consultations, we have been able to explore, in general, not
only those subjects which are of direct bilateral concern to the United
States and the Soviet Union, but also the chief outstanding international
problems which affect our relations.
I have not been able, in so brief a time, to reach definite conclusions as to
our position on all of these matters. Many of them are affected by
developments in the international scene and are of concern to many other
governments. I would, however, like to set before you certain general
considerations which I believe might be of help in introducing a greater
element of clarity in the relations between our two countries. I say this
because I am sure that you are conscious as I am of the heavy responsibility
which rests upon our two Governments in world affairs. I agree with your
thought that if we could find a measure of cooperation on some of these
current issues this, in itself, would be a significant contribution to the
problem of insuring a peaceful and orderly world.
I think we should recognize, in honesty to each other, that there are
problems on which we may not be able to agree. However, I believe that while
recognizing that we do not and, in all probability will not, share a common
view on all of these problems, I do believe that the manner in which we
approach them and, in particular, the manner in which our disagreements are
handled, can be of great importance.
In addition, I believe we should make more use of diplomatic channels for
quite informal discussion of these questions, not in the sense of
negotiations (since I am sure that we both recognize the interests of other
countries are deeply involved in these issues), but rather as a mechanism of
communication which should, insofar as is possible, help to eliminate
misunderstanding and unnecessary divergencies, however great the basic
differences may be.
I hope it will be possible, before too long, for us to meet personally for an
informal exchange of views in regard to some of these matters. Of course, a
meeting of this nature will depend upon the general international situation
at the time, as well as on our mutual schedules of engagements.
I have asked Ambassador Thompson to
discuss the question of our meeting. Ambassador Thompson, who enjoys my full confidence, is also in a
position to inform you of my thinking on a number of the international
issues which we have discussed. I shall welcome any expression of your
views. I hope such exchange might assist us in working out a responsible
approach to our differences with the view to their ultimate resolution for
the benefit of peace and security throughout the world. You may be sure, Mr.
Chairman, that I intend to do everything I can toward developing a more
harmonious relationship between our two countries.
*Source: Department of State, Presidential
Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. No classification marking. At the top of
the source text is written “2/22/62?”. The final drafting of this
message was done at a meeting at the White House on February 21 attended
by the President, Rusk, Thompson, Harriman, Bohlen,
Kohler, and Bundy. No record of this meeting has
been found, but it is noted in Rusk’s Appointment Book (Johnson Library) and the
President’s Appointment Book (Kennedy Library), and is also mentioned in
the first sentence of a February 26 memorandum from Rusk to Kennedy
scheduled for publication in volume V. At noon on February 22 Rusk, Kohler, and Harriman briefed French Ambassador Alphand and British
Ambassador Caccia on the content of this message stating that it was
general in nature and informing them that specific questions would be
addressed in further messages after consultations with their
governments. (Memorandum of conversation; Department of State, Central
Files, 611.61/2-2261) Regarding delivery of this letter to Khrushchev, see vol. V, Document 28. Printed in part in Claflin, The President Wants To Know, pp. 50-51.
1Printed from a copy that bears this typed