14. Memorandum of Conversation0
- Joint Communiqué
- The President
- Mr. Akalovsky
- Mr. Khrushchev
- Mr. Troyanovsky
The President, referring to the question of a joint communiqué, stated that in view of the fact that Mr. K was to have a press conference in the afternoon, he believed that a joint communiqué, would not be necessary, unless, of course, the Chairman thought that it would be useful to have one. He said that if Mr. K preferred to have a communiqué he would be willing to discuss it.
Mr. K replied that he believed it to be useful to have a joint communiqué . His press conference statement, he said, would be in the spirit that had been mentioned last evening in their conversation. Yet this was only one aspect of the situation, and a joint communiqué would have a soothing effect on world public opinion at large.
The President said that, since the talks had been very informal and had covered a variety of subjects without any specific order, he would not object to having a short statement as to what had been accomplished. Such a statement could be made public at the time preferred by Mr. K—before his speech, before his departure, or at any other time.
Mr. K agreed that the statement should be short and in general terms, since no specifics had been discussed. As a matter of fact, the respective positions on certain points had not been clarified. For instance, he said, he did not know what the President’s position was on disarmament. As to the time of publication, he believed that perhaps it would be best if he could read the communiqué at his press conference.
The President said that yesterday1 he had stated that the US was not trying to perpetuate the situation in Berlin while Mr. K had agreed not to force the Western Powers out of Berlin. Mr. K had also agreed to have more frequent meetings between himself and the President or between the respective Foreign Ministers. Thus, a general improvement of the [Page 43] atmosphere could be reported, which would be conducive to more useful negotiations.
Mr. K replied that this was correct. Yet there was one point he wanted to make clear. As far as Berlin was concerned, the statement should be such as could not be understood to mean that the Soviet Union and the US were in favor of prolonging the occupation status there and that the two countries were giving up the idea of a peace treaty. He said that he wanted to reiterate the Soviet position once again: the Soviet Union wanted to do everything in a friendly manner with the US, its allies and the allies of the Soviet Union in order to find a solution to the German problem. The settlement of the German problem would be brought about by a peace treaty and by doing away with the vestiges of war. If the Soviet Union should encounter no understanding on the part of the United States, it would have to seek unilateral action with its allies. He said that he also wanted to reiterate that the question of a time limit was not one of principle. Yet it was clear that some day a settlement would have to be reached. If the solution of the German problem were connected with the unification of Germany, this would be an unrealistic approach and would indicate a lack of desire to reach a settlement, since, in that case, it would be put off indefinitely. The two sides should not wait for German unification and should join their efforts to reach a settlement as soon as possible. Mr. K then said that without a thorough exposition of the US positions on the German problem and disarmament, it would be difficult for him to report to his Government and say where the barometer pointed—to clear, changing, or stormy.
The President replied that he did not see any reason for assuming that the needle was pointing at “stormy”. As far as German unification was concerned, the President stated that he had no formula for it and that he did not know when it could be brought about. He said he realized that the situation in Berlin was uneasy, but his and Mr. K’s predecessors had set it, perhaps unwisely, and now it was necessary to cope with it. The United States was prepared to seek a solution which would be satisfactory to everyone—to the Soviet Union, to its allies, and to the people of Europe in general. However, this was very difficult to do and required great patience. The President pointed out that he was not talking of a long distant future. Efforts should be exerted to bring about a solution as soon as possible, and if no fixed date were set, this could be done. Referring to the question of disarmament, the President said that the Soviet plan was still under study. Although this problem had been discussed at many previous conferences, the United States was willing to study the Soviet plan thoroughly and also to study any other plans, including its own. The US would be willing to apply new efforts in order to make progress in this field, because it believed that no real solution of [Page 44] any problem could be reached so long as there was not some progress in general disarmament.
Mr. K agreed and said that he believed that the prospects for moving forward were greater in the field of disarmament than in any other field, especially because the respective positions on Germany had become rigid as a result of the various commitments undertaken by the two sides, while in the field of disarmament there were no such barriers. However, Mr. K said, he wanted to point out again that the words “peace treaty” meant the same thing in all languages.
The President then suggested that the respective staffs start working on the text of the communiqué.
Mr. K agreed, but said that there was one additional point he wanted to raise, namely, that of the President’s return visit to the USSR. He stated that he had thought about this and had come to the conclusion that it would perhaps be better to have a heads of state meeting in the second half of November or early December with the President going to the USSR either late in May or early in June next year. He thought that the President, as well as his family, would enjoy their trip much more when the weather was good and everything was in full bloom. The beautiful scenery and the wonderful scent of blooming trees might help the President and himself in their talks.
The President replied that spring might be better for him since that would enable him to have some rest in the interim. As far as a heads of government meeting was concerned, the President said that he could not commit anyone except himself. As he had repeatedly stated, he would be willing to go to such a meeting if there was some progress which offered prospects for certain results. He said that a situation where he would not have to act under duress could be regarded as progress. His feeling now was that duress no longer existed.
Mr. K inquired what the President meant by duress.
The President replied that duress was a situation where one party intended to take unilateral actions without regard to the other countries concerned. He said that he did not want to conjure any fears, but that this had been the feeling of our people and of our Government until now. Yet, on the basis of the understanding reached between Mr. K and himself, he felt that duress no longer existed and therefore he would be willing to go to a meeting at the highest level.
Mr. K said that this was not the way the Soviet Government had understood the situation and that it had never intended to create a situation of duress.[Page 45]
The President replied that it was this way that the American Government and the American people had understood the situation. Perhaps it had been just one of the misunderstandings which had to be cleared up. The President suggested that, on the basis of what the two sides had said in these talks, they should consider the situation changed at least that much.