134. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • Quality of American Chocolates; Van Cliburn

PARTICIPANTS

  • The President
  • Ambassador Lodge
  • Ambassador Thompson
  • General Goodpaster
  • Mr. Akalovsky
  • Chairman Khrushchev
  • Ambassador Menshikov
  • Mr. Soldatov
  • Mr. Troyanovski

At lunch on the last day of Mr. Khrushchev’s visit to Camp David the Secretary, Mr. Gromyko and others were working on the communique and as the time was short the rest of the party proceeded to eat lunch without them.

There was little discussion of substantive matters. Mr. Khrushchev produced a box of chocolates which he said had been given to him by Van Cliburn with the request that he and the President eat them together. These were passed around the table and Mr. Khrushchev remarked about the high quality of American chocolates. Ambassador Menshikov said in Russian that Russian chocolates were better. Mr. Khrushchev turned to the interpreter and said “Don't translate that remark.” Then, having noted that I had heard it and that the President was waiting for a translation, he explained what Ambassador Menshikov had said and said he had asked the translator not to translate the remark because it was so tactless. Ambassador Menshikov’s only reaction was to say rather sourly that at least he personally preferred Soviet chocolates.

With respect to Van Cliburn, Mr. Khrushchev said either on this or an earlier occasion that Van Cliburn had expressed disappointment that he had not been able to play for Mr. Khrushchev on the White House piano which he said was possibly the best instrument in the world. The President said he had not realized that the White House piano was so special. Mr. Khrushchev went on to remark about the great success which Van Cliburn had had in the Soviet Union. It was not quite clear to me whether Mr. Khrushchev was fully aware of Van Cliburn’s presumptuousness in attempting to needle the President through him about failure to use him to entertain Mr. Khrushchev.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1475. Confidential; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Thompson and approved by Goodpaster on October 29.