431. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower0


  • Secretaries Herter, Dillon, Murphy, Merchant, General Goodpaster

Mr. Herter began by saying that the group had considered very carefully the President’s idea of talking with Khrushchev and thought that this was a very worthwhile thing to do. To this end they suggested that the President send word very confidentially to Khrushchev, through Kozlov who is leaving in the next day or two, that if there are results at Geneva sufficient to justify a summit meeting, he would propose that it be held in Quebec and that Khrushchev come down to the United States for a few days in advance, seeing the President at Camp David. The President would then plan to go to Moscow in October and on to India. The idea would be for Mr. Murphy to see Kozlov very quietly in New York on Sunday to put this matter to him.

The President said if he went to Moscow at that time he would have to skip Western Europe since if he stopped in one place he would have to stop in many. Mr. Herter said he and his associates also thought there would be value in the President going to Paris for about two days just ahead of the summit meeting to hold a “Western Summit” and have one day of conversations with de Gaulle.

The President commented that one reason he had thought of having Khrushchev over within the next couple of weeks was that this might do some good at the Geneva sessions which are being resumed on the thirteenth. Mr. Herter said he and his associates felt that sending the message now to Khrushchev would have much the same effect. One reason he is taking advantage of Kozlov’s return is that Khrushchev is planning to go to Poland early next week with attendant possibility that he might make provocative public statements there.

The President then considered a draft of a letter to Khrushchev and a draft of a “talking paper” which Mr. Murphy would use.1 He suggested changes to make it clear that this is not a pressure tactic on Khrushchev. He also suggested as a reason for Quebec as a site the problem he may face in late August or early September arising from the windup of the Congressional session.

Mr. Herter asked what the President would think about telling the British and the French of this, and specifically about mentioning it to [Page 977] Selwyn Lloyd. The President thought that he should go no further than to say that we are discreetly inquiring whether Khrushchev would like to make an exchange of informal visits. Mr. Herter said he would like to broach the idea of Quebec to the British and the French, since they will be studying the summit problem.

The President said that Mr. Murphy might mention the possibility of Khrushchev visiting a few other places in the United States—such as the agricultural station at Beltsville and other points of interesting economic activity.

The President next referred to Khrushchev’s meeting with Harriman2 and his comment that there is going to be trouble if the Western allies do not leave Berlin and that he would say the same thing to President Eisenhower when he met him. The President said a meeting of himself with Khrushchev would be useful for one thing. If Khrushchev were to threaten war or use of force, he would immediately call his bluff and ask him to agree on a day to start. Mr. Herter felt that such a direct answer would be most useful in our dealing with Khrushchev, who seems to have, or to be trying to create, the impression that we will not stand up to him. Mr. Herter said that Mr. Harriman had given him in utmost confidence his impression that Khrushchev is quite uncertain as to the effectiveness of the ICBMs. While he seemed to be quite confident of Soviet ability to devastate Western Europe, his attitude on longer range weapons was quite different.

Mr. Herter said it would have to be made clear that this is not a social or ceremonial visit but is a business trip for the purpose of informal discussions. The President agreed with this but recalled that the Russians are great ones for ostentation and formal display at social dinners, etc.

It was agreed that the State Department group would revise the documents along the lines suggested by the President and send them over to him Saturday morning.3

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Top Secret.
  2. Neither of these drafts has been found, but see footnote 3 below.
  3. See Documents 417 and 420.
  4. Copies of the revised draft letter and the amended talking paper were transmitted to the President on Saturday, July 11. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International Series) The following day Murphy saw Kozlov in New York, just prior to the latter’s departure from the United States, and handed him the two-paragraph note suggesting an exchange of visits. (Memorandum of conversation; Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/7–1359)