117. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Mr. Khrushchev
  • Henry Cabot Lodge
  • Mr. Gromyko
  • Ambassador Thompson
  • Mr. Pedersen
  • Mr. Sukhodrev
  • Mr. Akalovsky


  • Plane Trip from New York to Los Angeles

I told Khrushchev that I planned to suggest in my speech tonight that we exchange a million copies of books on our own countries. He was most pleased that I told him about this in advance. First he said he would like to choose the U.S. book because he did not want to have any propaganda about the USSR.

I said this was not the idea at all; the idea was to give him a book which presented positively information about the United States. What I was interested in now was whether he had any objection to me speaking about this tonight.

He said—no that he liked the idea.

He then told me he would like to get authority to buy some Boeing 707 Jets like we are flying on. He said he would be glad to give us one of their planes for one of ours. He said planes did not have much military value. They were only good for civilian use. They would not use 707’s just as we did because their conditions were different. They could adapt what they would learn. He also thought we could learn from some of theirs. He suggested he might give us the plane he flew over in. He said he would take these questions up with the President.

I also told him that he might have some rough going with the Labor Leaders in San Francisco. He told me it was very nice of me to give him this advance notice.

I told him that when I had first gone to the United Nations I was mystified about how the Soviet Union ran its foreign affairs. Russian policies and why and how they were made were a mystery to me. This trip was educational for me. Now I understand at least a few of the reasons for some of their policies. I said facetiously that if you get discouraged about the trials and tribulations of this trip you can at least realize that you have done some education of Lodge.

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Khrushchev then referred to his Rabinovich joke. I asked which one of us was which. He said—you can take your choice.

We showed him the President’s answer to James Reston in the press conference of September 17 about the fact that their conversations would manifestly have to discuss other countries.1 He said he agreed with this.

I talked to him about jamming. He said they would be ready to stop jamming on certain things, not only artistic programs but also debates and such things. But they would not allow appeals to overthrow the government to be broadcast to the Soviet Union. He made it clear to me later that he meant broadcasts to the Soviet Union and not to the satellites.

On his disarmament proposals before the UN yesterday,2 I paraphrased the comments that Herter had made in his brief press release.3 As Herter had suggested I told Khrushchev as my personal idea I thought it might be desirable for the Secretary General to address a request to member states about how many security forces they would need. Khrushchev first said this would not be acceptable. After further conversation when it became clear that the request would be for information purposes only he said that would be all right.

I told him I had not had time to study his disarmament declaration but I knew the President was personally interested in control measures.

He said the difficulty was we want to have controls without disarmament. He believed that disarmament and controls should go together. He said our proposals were unfair because we had bases abroad.

I said I saw no theoretical reason why controls could not cover outlying bases of both of us—including those of Eastern Europe and ours elsewhere.

He said that is what we want to get at. That is what I am proposing.

I said we did not want any more paper prohibitions in disarmament.

He said—who suggested such a thing.

I said I had not said anybody had but that this was something we had to watch. I pointed out we had had prohibition of alcoholic [Page 425] beverages in the United States in the 20’s and in spite of fine words it had not worked out because it was only on paper.

At one point in the conversation Khrushchev said that rockets were wonderful. You did not have to train people to navigate them. They did not become obsolete or deteriorate. They could be stored simply. We did not have them but he would be willing to destroy his tomorrow in a disarmament agreement.

Khrushchev said that we should leave their internal arrangements alone. We should only deal on international questions. We should not interfere with his system. (He made it clear he meant Eastern Europe as well.)

I said what do you mean. You seem to be shifting your ground. You are also including Poland, Hungary, etc., when you say these are domestic questions in the Soviet Union. There is a difference between Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union. He became a little annoyed. He said—well you win a prize for geography. You at least know that Poland is different from the Soviet Union. He said that he had been talking to Gomulka recently.4 Khrushchev said—he is one of those slaves” you talk about. Why don’t you leave him alone.

I said—all we do is pray for them. You don’t believe in prayer, so why do you mind?

He said he did not want to see us waste our time.

I said the only thing we prayed for is that these people should have a free choice. Maybe Gomulka would win in an election. I thought you, Mr. Khrushchev, might win in an election in the Soviet Union.

Khrushchev said he had had kidney trouble for a long time. He liked our smooth roads because his bumped him around and bothered him. He said he drank Borzhonie water and that this prevents his kidney stones from forming and dissolves those he has.

Yesterday when I was leaving the Secretary General’s dinner at the UN Kuznetsov came up to me and said the greatest thing that had ever happened to Soviet-US relations was that I was taking Khrushchev around the country. I said I was getting a tremendous education because I was getting such an intimate view of the government of the Soviet Union.

He said—this is an education for Khrushchev too and I am glad that he is traveling with someone who vigorously expounds the United States point of view. He said you must come to Moscow with the President.

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I said this was out of my range. I only live from day to day. (Khrushchev has also said to me many times that I ought to come to Moscow.)

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1474. Confidential. Drafted by Richard F. Pedersen, Chief of the Political Section of the Mission to the United Nations.
  2. For the transcript of the President’s September 17 press conference, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959, pp. 670–671.
  3. For text of Khrushchev’s September 18 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, see The New York Times, September 19, 1959.
  4. Reference is to USUN press release 3224, September 18, in which Herter indicated that the United States would examine carefully Khrushchev’s disarmament proposal, and emphasized U.S. interest in controlled disarmament,” which the Soviet Union had so far rejected. (Department of State, IO Files)
  5. Khrushchev met with Gomulka during his visit to Poland July 14–23.