82. Memorandum From Secretary of State Herter to President Eisenhower0


  • Resumption of High Altitude Flights in Berlin Corridors

The discussions which we have been conducting with the British and French regarding the resumption of high altitude flights in the Berlin air corridors have now brought agreement on the procedures to be followed in resuming such flights. A summary of the agreement is enclosed. The Departments of State and Defense find this agreement satisfactory.

In approving the tripartite discussions, you had requested that your authorization be sought before the Soviet authorities are notified of our intentions and flights are actually resumed.

I therefore recommend that you authorize the notification to the Soviet authorities and the resumption of high altitude flights as provided for in the enclosed tripartite agreement.

Christian A. Herter
[Page 205]




The Three Powers (United States, United Kingdom and France) will notify the Soviet Union, as soon as possible and through the British Air Safety Center, that they intend to resume high altitude flights (above 10, 000 feet) in the Berlin air corridors on a routine scheduled basis. The notification will contain no date for the first flight.
The notification will be accompanied by a simple announcement to the Soviets of the Three Powers’ willingness to participate in talks about air safety in the Berlin corridors if the Soviets so desire. This matter will not be pursued further if the Soviets do not ask for talks. However, tripartite technical discussions will be undertaken immediately in Berlin preparatory to suggesting to the Soviets, in the event such talks do take place, that the Berlin Air Safety Center be permitted to exercise positive control over all corridor flights.
The first high altitude flight will be carried out no later than thirty days after notification to the Soviets. An exception would be made only if mutually agreed air safety talks with the Soviets are proceeding so satisfactorily that the Three Powers would not want to jeopardize the final outcome by insisting on high altitude flights shortly before concluding an imminent agreement.
If the Soviets give a flatly negative reply shortly after receipt of the tripartite notification, the first high altitude flight can take place about twenty-four hours thereafter. If no reply is forthcoming from the Soviets ten days after notification, the first flight can take place twenty-four hours thereafter. If there are discussions with the Soviets which drag on inconclusively, the first flight will take place not later than the thirtieth day after notification.
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles-Herter Series. Secret. According to another copy of the memorandum, both it and the enclosure were drafted by McKiernan on February 19. The source text bears Goodpaster’s handwritten notation: “President approved, 26 Feb 1960.”
  2. Secret. Prepared in the Department of State.