185. Memorandum of an Afternoon Meeting, Geneva, July 18, 19551


After the meeting today, the President had a few minutes’ talk with Bulganin, Khrushchev, and Marshal Zhukov. Bulganin complimented the President on his chairmanship today and said he thought the conference had gotten off to a good start. He said, speaking both for himself and Khrushchev, they had not attended conferences of this nature before and that from the information they had from others, this conference had gotten off to a better start than any previous one. Khrushchev expressed his agreement.

Bulganin said, in addition, he felt the very fact of making personal contacts was extremely important. The President agreed saying that if you had not met someone you were apt to think they were 14 feet high with horns and a tail at which the Russians seemed much amused.

The President took occasion to emphasize to the Soviets that the most that could be expected here was the start of a process of negotiation and not any miracles or decisions on outstanding questions. He said, however, that a new spirit might well be created which would greatly facilitate this process.

The President exchanged a number of personal reminiscences with Marshal Zhukov and recalled the fruitful and friendly fashion with which they had dealt with many important problems many years ago in Germany.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files, 396.1–GE/7–1855. Secret. Drafted by Bohlen.