59. Editorial Note

First Deputy Premier Anastas I. Mikoyan visited the United States January 4–20, 1959, in an unofficial capacity as guest of Ambassador Mikhail A. Menshikov. Llewellyn E. Thompson, Ambassador to the Soviet Union, first learned of the proposed visit in a note from the Soviet Foreign Ministry, December 16, 1958, which was delivered to him the next day. Thompson, who believed it “would be very useful from many points view for Mikoyan to receive at first hand authoritative exposition our policies from highest officials US government,” recommended favorable action on Mikoyan’s request for a diplomatic visa. (Telegram 1273 from Moscow, December 17, 1958; Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/12–1758) Thompson speculated that the main purpose of Mikoyan’s trip would be “to explore possibilities of increasing trade with U.S. and corollary purpose to take our temperature on Berlin question.” He also wanted to inform U.S. allies of the proposed visit and to refer them to Eisenhower’s letter to Bulganin, February 15, 1958, which had proposed that influential Soviet citizens visit the United States. (Telegram 1274 from Moscow, December 17, 1958; ibid.) For text of Eisenhower’s February 15 letter to Bulganin, see Department of State Bulletin, March 10, 1958, pages 373–376.

In telegram 965 to Moscow, December 17, 1958, the Department of State agreed with Thompson’s recommendations subject to the approval of Secretary Dulles, who was attending the NATO Ministerial Meeting in Paris. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/12–1758) Dulles also concurred but first wanted President Eisenhower informed of the visit. (Secto 25 from Paris, December 18, 1958; ibid., 033.6111/12–1858) A handwritten note on a copy of Dulles’ message indicates that the President was informed on December 18. (Eisenhower Library, Staff Secretary Records, International Series) Eisenhower was presumably informed before or during the 391st meeting of the National Security Council on December 18. As summarized in the memorandum of discussion, Allen Dulles briefed the Council members on Mikoyan’s visit as follows:

“Mr. Dulles reported that the USSR had yesterday requested that Mikoyan be allowed to visit the United States in January as a guest of the Soviet Ambassador in Washington. The ‘cover’ purpose of his visit will be trade discussions; the real purpose has not been divulged. Perhaps the real purpose would be to assess the temper of the American people with respect to Berlin and other international situations before the [Page 208] meeting of the Supreme Soviet on January 27. Moreover, the Soviets may believe the visit would appear to be a substantation of propaganda stories ‘planted’ by Moscow that the U.S. and the USSR are engaged in secret negotiations. Mikoyan, 63 years old, was No. 2 to Khrushchev in seniority but not likely to be Khrushchev’s successor. A member of the Presidum since 1934 and a Party member since 1915, Mikoyan is remarkable for his political durability and his ability to end up on the winning side in internal struggles. He is interested less in Communist ideology than in bolstering Soviet economic strength, and is said to love ‘horse-trading’. Reports indicate that Khrushchev treats him in a cavalier manner. Mikoyan visited the U.S. once before, in 1936 for 3 months, to study the canning industry.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)

On December 27 and 30, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Robert D. Murphy discussed with Ambassador Menshikov Mikoyan’s travel plans and security arrangements. (Memoranda of conversation, December 27 and 30; Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/12–2758 and 033.6111/12–3058) In a memorandum to the President, January 2, 1959, Acting Secretary of State Christian A. Herter summarized Mikoyan’s itinerary as well as plans for U.S. officials to hold talks with him. Herter recommended that the President see Mikoyan after Mikoyan had returned to Washington following his visits to other parts of the nation. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File)

Following Mikoyan’s arrival in the United States, he met with Secretary Dulles on January 5; see Document 60. An extract from the memorandum of their conversation on the problems of Berlin and Germany is printed in volume VIII, Document 121. Mikoyan also met with Harold E. Stassen, President Eisenhower’s former Special Assistant on Disarmament, on January 6. Stassen sent an account of this interview in a letter to the President, January 7. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Administration Series) A memorandum of Vice President Richard M. Nixon’s conversation with Mikoyan on January 6 is printed as Document 61.

Mikoyan then traveled to other parts of the United States, including Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Following his return to Washington, he met again twice with Dulles on January 16; see Documents 62 and 63. Portions of these memoranda regarding Berlin and Germany are printed in volume VIII, Documents 135 and 136. Mikoyan saw the President on January 17; see Document 64. The portion of this memorandum pertaining to Berlin and Germany is printed in volume VIII, Document 137. A memorandum of Murphy’s conversation with ERIC JOHNSTON on January 19 summarized Johnston’s conversation with Mikoyan on January 17. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/1–1959) A memorandum of Mikoyan’s conversation with Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs C. Douglas Dillon on trade matters on January 19 is printed as Document [Page 209] 65. Dillon also gave an account of his talk with Mikoyan in his speech to the Mississippi Valley World Trade Council in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 27. For text of this address, see Department of State Bulletin, February 16, 1959, pages 237–243. A memorandum of Mikoyan’s conversation with Secretary of Commerce Lewis L. Strauss on January 19 is printed as Document 66.

For text of Dulles’ farewell message to Mikoyan, January 20, see Department of State Bulletin, February 9, 1958, pages 189–190. Mikoyan’s reply to Dulles, dated January 21, is attached to a memorandum from Foy D. Kohler, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, to Dulles, January 21. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/1–2159) For Dulles’ report to the National Security Council on January 22 on Mikoyan’s visit, see Document 67.

For text of Mikoyan’s news conference in Moscow on January 24 on his trip, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, March 4, 1959, pages 28–31. Mikoyan also gave his impressions of his visit in a speech to the 21st Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on January 31. For text of his speech, see ibid., April 1, 1959, pages 56–60 and 79. his speech was also summarized and analyzed in telegram 1529 from Moscow, February 2. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/2–259)

Intelligence Report No. 7944, “The Mikoyan Visit: An Appraisal,” which the Division of Research and Analysis for USSR and Eastern Europe, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, prepared on February 5, is in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, OSS-INR Reports.

Additional documentation on Mikoyan’s visit is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1183, and Central Files 033.6111 and 411.6141.