321. Memorandum of Discussion at the 407th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1–4.]

5. The Geneva Conference

Mr. Gray stated that Secretary Dillon had agreed to make any pertinent observations he might have on developments at the Foreign Ministers Conference in Geneva.

Secretary Dillon observed that all he really wanted to say was that what had been happening at the Conference had been fully reported in the public press and there was practically nothing of any significance which was not known publicly. He added that there was the impression in the State Department that we had got past the preliminary hurdles at Geneva more rapidly than had originally been thought possible. On the other hand, in the course of the last week we had run into the expected Soviet stone wall. Perhaps, thought Secretary Dillon, next week would provide signs of more significant negotiations especially with respect to Berlin. If so, these negotiations would probably be private in character. Meanwhile, the U.K. had been playing very good ball with the U.S.

Secretary Dillon stated that we had had some difficulty with the very large number of representatives of the press in Geneva. In the absence of any very significant real news, the reporters had been reduced to manufacturing stories from very flimsy evidence.

Secretary Dillon added the thought that there had been a couple of fairly significant developments at the private dinner meeting of the Foreign Ministers.1 In the first place, Secretary Herter had informed Gromyko that the U.S. would never consent to a Summit Meeting under threat. Secondly, there had been a flop in the matter of the nuclear test negotiations. The sudden hope of progress in this area had ended abruptly almost as soon as it had been born. If the Soviets do not retreat from the position recently taken by Khrushchev2 who had stated a willingness to study only high altitude test suspension, the prospects for any real agreement seemed to Secretary Dillon to be very slim.

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The Vice President inquired whether Secretary Dillon meant to convey that the Soviets would not agree to the suggestions on test suspension made in the President’s recent letter to Khrushchev.3 Secretary Dillon said that they would not agree to these suggestions.

Mr. Allen Dulles stated that the visit of two reliable American individuals recently to Moscow had eventuated in a visit with Mikoyan who had informed these individuals that Khrushchev had liked the President’s letter. Mr. Dulles confessed that he could not estimate the significance of this report.

Secretary Dillon pointed out one other interesting piece of intelligence. Apparently, he said, the Soviets have extended the lease of their villa in Geneva from the 8th of June until the 8th of July.

The National Security Council:

Noted and discussed an oral report by the Acting Secretary of State on significant developments at the Geneva Conference.

[Here follow agenda items 6–8.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Gleason.
  2. See Document 304.
  3. For text of Khrushchev’s letter to the President, May 14, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1959, pp. 1311–1313.
  4. For text of this letter, dated May 5, see ibid., pp. 1309–1310.