395. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union0

2117. Observe Presidential Handling. Following is text letter dated today from President to Khrushchev for immediate delivery to Foreign Office. Confirm delivery Department and Secretary at Geneva.

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“June 15, 1959

Dear Mr. Chairman: The point seems to have been reached in the discussions among the four Foreign Ministers in Geneva at which I feel impelled to address to you this personal and private note. I shall give it no publicity whatsoever unless you should desire otherwise.

It has been my sincere hope that the progress at the Foreign Ministers meeting would be such as to justify a summit meeting at which final settlements of some of our problems could be reached. This note is a personal effort to explain to you why I feel that recent developments at Geneva imperil the achievement of this objective.

The Soviet Delegation, while unwilling to discuss in a serious way the broad peace plan which we put forward, has now, after some weeks of both private and plenary sessions, put forward proposals with respect to Berlin which are from our viewpoint a clearly unacceptable challenge to our position in that city. At the same time Mr. Gromyko has stated that ‘in the opinion of the Soviet Government there is no foundation for any link between the results of this conference and the convening of a summit meeting.’ Because of your original acceptance on March 30 of my March 26 proposal1 with respect to the current negotiations between us, I had come to believe that we were coming closer together in this important matter. You will probably recall that in part of my March 26 proposal I said, ‘The purpose of the Foreign Ministers Meeting should be to reach positive agreements over as wide a field as possible and in any case to narrow the differences between the respective points of view and to prepare constructive proposals for consideration by a conference of Heads of Government later in the summer. On this understanding and as soon as developments in the Foreign Ministers Meeting justify holding a summit conference, the US Government would be ready to participate in such a conference. The date, place, and agenda for such a conference would be proposed by the meeting of Foreign Ministers.’

You in your March 30 reply then stated: ‘The Soviet Government expresses the hope that all participants of the conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs will make their positive contribution to the work of this conference and that it will be an important step in the cause of creating a firm peace in Europe. The Soviet Government, on its part, will do everything possible to assist in the attainment of this goal.’

I sincerely hope that both you and I continue to hold to the spirit of this understanding and will do what we can in assuring that the Foreign Ministers’ talks will produce satisfactory results.

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It seems to me, unfortunately, that the latest Soviet position at Geneva as presented by Mr. Gromyko creates an impossible situation for the United States in that it implies the convocation of a Summit Meeting without prior progress of any kind.

I am quite prepared to recognize that final agreements on the critical questions affecting world peace could probably be best concluded at a meeting of the Heads of Government. However, I want to say very earnestly that our Secretary of State has gone to Geneva with full authority from me and from the US Government to engage in serious negotiations of the type contemplated in the exchange of communications between us which led to the holding of the Foreign Ministers conference. I have no way of knowing, of course, Mr. Chairman, to what extent your own Foreign Minister is empowered by you to negotiate with this same degree of flexibility within the framework of what I thought was a firm understanding between you and me. But I do assure you that our purpose in the Foreign Ministers meeting has been to clear the way for a fruitful or at least hopeful meeting of Heads of Government.

I hope you will urgently consider the situation as it now stands. I write to you in no sense of attempting to bargain or to establish conditions. It is my thought only to see whether we will be able to achieve some greater measure of understanding between ourselves and eventually to reach settlements in some of the issues that divide us. Only thus, I think, can we bring about a real relaxation of the present tensions in the world. It would give me great satisfaction if we could meet later this year for that purpose.

I add only that if such a meeting were to offer hope of success it would certainly have to take place in an atmosphere in which neither side was posing a threat to the other and on the basis of such preparatory work by our Foreign Ministers as could give us reason to believe that the Heads of Government would be able to reach agreement on significant subjects. Anything less, it seems to me, would be a betrayal of the hopes of men everywhere.

Sincerely yours,

Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

Observe Presidential Handling.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/6–1559. Secret; Priority; Verbatim Text. Regarding the drafting of this text, see footnote 2, Document 391, and footnote 1, Document 394. The letter was delivered to the Foreign Ministry at 12:30 p.m. Moscow time on June 16.
  2. See Document 244.