137. Memorandum of Conversation0



Copenhagen, Denmark, May 5–7, 1958


  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Burgess
    • Paul-Henri Spaak


  • Nuclear Testing—Summit Meeting—NATO Ministerial Meeting

Secretary Dulles congratulated and thanked Mr. Spaak for all he had been doing. He realized that the U.S. had not been able to move as rapidly as Mr. Spaak at times wished, but he hoped Mr. Spaak would keep on pressing for action. It was his business to do so.

Secretary Dulles outlined some of the difficulties in arriving at definite positions and cited the question of testing. The U.S. had considered an announcement ahead of the Russians but many contrary agreements were raised against it. Both the British and the French were opposed to cessation—at least before the passage of the new Atomic Energy legislation.1 The Secretary proposed to pursue the matter further.

Mr. Spaak said there was great need for wider public understanding on this point to dispel a tendency to put the blame on the U.S.

Secretary Dulles said in the U.S. there were growing doubts both on the part of the government and the public about a summit meeting. The recent Soviet veto of the Arctic proposal was especially discouraging as the U.S. was very hopeful and eager that this proposal should succeed.2

Spaak questioned the reasons the U.S.S.R. had made so many such mistakes recently.

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Secretary Dulles felt Khrushchev was very dangerous for he was not as careful or calculating as his predecessor—more moved by emotion.

Mr. Spaak inquired if we thought many people in Russia were against Khrushchev.

Secretary Dulles said undoubtedly.

Secretary Dulles developed further the point that the U.S. was not happy about the summit meeting idea. The Democrats were lined up against it; a high percentage of the Congress opposed the idea of the President’s becoming involved.

Mr. Spaak said he thought the pressure for a meeting was lessening in Europe.

Secretary Dulles said he was worried about the “parity” principle. It assumed the negotiation was between two blocks.

Secretary Dulles expressed his concern about France and Algeria—the danger of a repetition of Indo-China. Mr. Spaak confirmed this concern.

It was agreed that Secretary Dulles would be prepared to open the discussion under topic II of the program with a presentation of the work of the three countries in negotiating with Russia. He would want later to discuss some other questions under this topic such as Arctic Inspection.3

Secretary Dulles said he would propose that Mr. Spaak and his staff be asked to draft the communiqué.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D123, CF 1006. Secret. Drafted by Burgess. The meeting was held in the U.S. Embassy Residence.
  2. A proposed amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 permitting the transfer of nuclear materials and information to other nations passed Congress and was signed by the President on July 2, 1958. (72 Stat. 276)
  3. Reference is to the Soviet veto in the U.N. Security Council on May 2 of a U.S. proposal for the establishment of an international inspection zone against surprise attack north of the Arctic Circle.
  4. Secretary Dulles’ statements to the NATO Ministerial Meeting under agenda item II, Current International Situation, are reported in Document 140.