90. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Aerial Inspection Plan


  • President Eisenhower; Chancellor Adenauer of Germany; (Mr. Charlick, LS, Interpreter)

Before the luncheon there was a brief exchange between the President and the Chancellor on the topic of the President’s painting. The Chancellor also repeated a humorous remark about how highly a New York press photographer valued a picture of Mr. Adenauer and Mr. Ben-Gurion together.

During the luncheon, the President and the Chancellor exchanged impressions about the Vatican. The Chancellor asked what Mr. Eisenhower thought of the elaborate ceremonial there, and both agreed that there could be somewhat less of this. The Chancellor compared the personalities of the present Pope and his late predecessor. There followed some good-humored exchanges about the meaning of traditions and customs in general.

President Eisenhower then said that he had a serious topic to discuss. This was, to offer to the Soviets a plan for continuous aerial inspection, divorced from any disarmament aspects, and operating in selected regions. It would be in the nature of a try-out, to see if it would be work [Page 226] able during a given period. At the outset the President said that he did not necessarily always mean to involve Europe in such a program, that if the Soviets, for instance, would open some part of Siberia, he would be willing to offer all or part of Alaska. The Soviets would then be faced with the necessity of either accepting or refusing the plan.

The Chancellor, after a moment’s reflection, answered, “I would do it,” and after a further pause, “It’s a good idea,” and “I do not believe ‘they’ will agree to it, but I would do it, nevertheless.”

The President then went over the plan again, saying that “If we had one or two or three such areas, say, Siberia or Alaska or Central Europe,” the aerial inspection could be tried out apart from any disarmament, to see if it would work. Nor would it be a valid objection that the plan would require excessive personnel. With modern infra-red techniques an aerial camera could locate the flower basket before them from a height of 50, 000 feet.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 559, CF 1610. Secret; Limit Distribution. The meeting was held in the White House. Drafted by C. Charlick, Department of State interpreter, and approved by the White House on March 28. Another copy of this memorandum in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File, is initialed by the President.