414. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Herter and Secretary of Defense McElroy0

Secretary McElroy telephoned with regard to overflights in Berlin to say the President thinks we should renew these flights on a regular basis when it is the right time to do so. McElroy said it occurred to him it might be a good thing to undertake very soon as an indication of firmness on our part in connection with the Geneva negotiations. CAH said he had talked to the President at some length about the whole situation and that among other things the President didn’t want CAH to use provocative language in his speech tonight.1 CAH said in light of this he would have some hesitation about renewing overflights although he would have none if negotiations broke down. McElroy said if negotiations broke down anything we did at that time would be considered provocative and also that if things broke down and they try to make things difficult, a precedence of overflights before that might be useful. CAH said what was really key to his mind was whether Defense really thinks these overflights are important technically. McElroy said this was the aircraft they would want to increasingly use for transport into Berlin; that it will take the equivalent of 6 or 8 other planes; that this is not for exercise; there is a real reason for this. CAH said he would give it careful thought.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers. No classification marking.
  2. Presumably a reference to Herter’s report to the nation given on June 23 not June 22. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, July 13, 1959, pp. 43–45 or Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 342–346.