222. Memorandum of the Conversation at the Buffet, Palais des Nations, Geneva, July 21, 1955, 6 p.m.1



  • The President
  • Ambassador Bohlen
  • U.S.S.R.
    • Mr. Khrushchev
    • Marshal Zhukov
    • Mr. Molotov

In buffet today, the President explained to Khrushchev and Molotov the idea he had had in proposing an exchange of military information and overflights in both countries.2 The Soviet reaction, as expressed by Khrushchev, was 100 percent negative. They said it would not help the cause of disarmament or security at all but would merely mean that the intelligence services of the two countries would have confirmation of the present fragmentary information that they possessed. Khrushchev was extremely frank in stating this position although he was polite throughout and expressed his conviction that the President was sincere in his proposition but that he could not share the optimism which the Chairman (i.e. Bulganin) had expressed concerning today’s meeting. He felt that today’s meeting had lightened the task of the Subcommittee on Disarmament and that they would have very little to do.

Marshal Zhukov, who then joined the group, said that as a military man he associated himself with the statements of Khrushchev.

The President explained that he was trying to outline one first concrete step which might be done in order to dispel fear and suspicion [Page 457] and thus lighten international tension by reassuring people against the dangers of surprise attack.

Khrushchev, however, maintained his position that this was little more than a means of acquiring intelligence information on both sides and that the right way to proceed to a lessening of international tension in this field was to reduce armaments, whereas the President’s proposal would let armaments remain as they are now and even envisaged the possibility of their increase.

The President in conclusion said to Marshal Zhukov he was sure during the war he would have given a great many rubles to have had good aerial photography of the enemy’s positions. Both Marshal Zhukov and Khrushchev replied that that was true in time of war; to which the President answered that knowledge of this kind in time of peace would afford reassurance against surprise attack and be confirmation of their joint intention not to fight each other.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–2255. Secret. Drafted by Bohlen. For President Eisenhower’s account of this conversation, essentially along these lines, see Mandate for Change, p. 521.
  2. For text of President Eisenhower’s statement, see supra.