142. Memorandum From Secretary of State Herter to President Eisenhower0


  • Lend Lease Negotiations

You will recall it was our understanding that Chairman Khrush-chev in conversation with Under Secretary Dillon at Camp David agreed to resume negotiations for a lend lease settlement without specific qualification, although in this same conversation he discussed other matters affecting economic and trade relations.1

In giving effect to this agreement Ambassador Thompson delivered a note on December 7 to Foreign Minister Gromyko stating “I have the honor to refer to the September meetings between President Eisenhower and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, N.S. Khrushchev, at which time the Chairman agreed to a resumption of negotiations for a settlement of lend-lease.”2 Gromyko’s reply of December 22 stated that the Soviet Government “is prepared to begin negotiations in Washington on January 11, 1960 for settling the question of lend lease.”3 Soviet acceptance of our terms of reference was again unqualified.

In the two meetings held thus far, however, Ambassador Menshikov has insisted that a lend lease settlement be accompanied by 1) the conclusion of a trade agreement on a most favored nation basis and 2) the extension of long-term credits on acceptable terms.4

The Executive Branch, however, is not in a position to conduct negotiations on either subject at this time. Most favored nation treatment is [Page 502] specifically prohibited by 1951 legislation5 and the extension of credits would be inconsistent with the Congressional intention expressed in that and other legislation. In the event of a satisfactory lend lease settlement we could, as Mr. Dillon suggested at Camp David, consider recommending to Congress that certain legislative restrictions be removed, but as indicated above the Soviet position has gone far beyond that.

On January 19 Ambassador Thompson took up the matter with Gromyko explaining our understanding of the terms of reference and the position of the U.S. Government as indicated above.6 Gromyko, however, refused to consider a lend lease settlement not connected with agreement on the other two issues.

Under these circumstances to prolong the talks would only add to misunderstanding and imply a U.S. disposition to negotiate on the two other subjects added to the agenda by the USSR.

The purpose of this memorandum, therefore, is to recommend that in the absence of a change in the Soviet position at the next meeting, scheduled for January 21, at 3:00 p.m., these negotiations be suspended. In this event the Department will issue a statement explaining the reasons for the suspension. Unless you perceive objections, the Department will undertake the necessary steps.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles-Herter Series. No classification marking. Initialed by the President.
  2. See Document 132.
  3. Herter’s note to Gromyko, which included this quoted sentence, was transmitted in telegram 1329 to Moscow, December 5, 1959. This telegram also noted that Charles E. Bohlen would be the U.S. negotiator. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.56/12–559) In telegram 1603 from Moscow, December 7, Thompson reported that he delivered this note to Gromyko on December 7. (Ibid., 711.56/12–759)
  4. Telegram 1721 from Moscow, December 22, 1959, merely reported very briefly that a note received that day said that the Soviet Government agreed to begin lend-lease negotiations in Washington on January 11, 1960, and appointed Menshikov as its representative. (Ibid., 711.56/12–2259) The quoted clause does not appear in that telegram, and the text of the Soviet note has not been found.
  5. Summaries of the first two meetings on lend-lease on January 11 and 15 were transmitted in telegram 1499 to Moscow, January 12, and telegram 1550 to Moscow, January 15. (Ibid., 711.56/1–1260 and 711.56/1–1560, respectively)
  6. See footnote 2, Document 64.
  7. Thompson summarized this meeting with Gromyko in telegram 1918 from Moscow, January 19. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.56/1–1960)