80. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Mr. Kozlov’s Call on the Vice President


  • United States:
    • The Vice President Mr. Kohler
    • Mr. McSweeney
    • Mr. Akalovsky (interpreting)
  • USSR:
    • Mr. Kozlov
    • Ambassador Menshikov
    • Mr. Soldatov
    • Mr. Sukhodrev (interpreting)

The Vice President opened the conversation by inquiring whether Mr. Kozlov had had a good time at the luncheon with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to which Mr. Kozlov replied in the affirmative. The Vice President commented on the very good press coverage that Mr. Kozlov had had in the American press. The Vice President expressed the view that, as he had said many times before, it was very important that both sides obtain good visibility of the situation and clarify the issues that are before them.

Mr. Kozlov agreed that it was very useful to define the issues and see where the “boundaries” in such issues lie. He also suggested that it would be useful to expand trade between the U.S. and USSR.

The Vice President said that with regard to trade he believed that it could be developed along with an increase in exchanges between the United States and the USSR.

Mr. Kozlov observed that the Soviet Union was particularly interested in buying from the United States technical equipment, such as chemical equipment, automatic machinery and textile machinery. On the other hand, the United States appeared to be interested in buying chrome ore, manganese ore, and other raw materials from the Soviet Union. He remarked that so far he had seen two American factories1 and that apparently the United States could learn something from the Soviet Union. Such exchange of experiences could be promoted by mutual purchases of individual equipment on the basis of barter trade.

The Vice President pointed out that, as Mr. Kozlov probably knew, one of the major problems was the difference in our two systems. The [Page 297] United States system was that of private enterprise and American free enterprise manufacturers would be extremely reluctant to engage in any trade without their patent rights being fully guaranteed.

Mr. Kozlov again reverted to the subject of chemical production and said that American exporters appeared to be having difficulties in obtaining export licenses; therefore it was not only up to the Soviet Union to promote trade but also up to the United States. He remarked that the Soviet Union trades with many countries, including Adenauer’s Germany, notwithstanding the fact that the Soviet Union has no sympathy with Mr. Adenauer. Therefore differences in social systems should not be an obstacle to foreign trade. In this connection, he recalled the extensive trade between the Soviet Union and the United States before the war, and said that U.S. firms which had supplied equipment for the hydroelectric power station on the Dniepr as well as for the industrial facilities in Magnitogorsk had made good profit and that both sides had been very pleased with the situation. He said that he realized that differences between our two systems do exist and will exist, but nevertheless he believed that trade should be developed. For instance, the Soviet Union conducted trade with England; just recently an agreement had been signed providing for a chemical plant to be built in the Soviet Union by British firms.2 This agreement had been concluded on a mutually advantageous basis in spite of the fact that the British and Soviet socio-political systems are different. Mr. Kozlov said he believed that the United States is an even more democratic country than England and, therefore, there should be no obstacles to trade between the United States and the USSR.

The Vice President said that in order to have an understanding both sides would have to give. In this connection, he recalled Mr. Kozlov’s and Mr. Khrushchev’s comments on peaceful co-existence and stated that many of those comments could be understood as meaning that one side is saying that it should be free to do what it wants.

Mr. Kozlov replied that this was an incorrect interpretation of co-existence, and said that Mr. Khrushchev had supported a number of Mr. Nixon’s statements which he had considered to be useful and constructive.

The Vice President said that what he meant was that there was a feeling that the Soviet Union insisted on having different rules applied to different sides. Of course, he observed, he realized that propaganda can sometimes create false impressions.

[Page 298]

Mr. Kozlov noted that the Soviet Union was engaged in large-scale trade with West Germany, England and some 70 other countries, most of which are capitalist countries. He recalled that recently the Japanese Minister of Trade had visited the Soviet Union and displayed great interest in Soviet lumber and oil. All this, he said, indicated that differences in systems are not necessarily obstacles to trade.

The Vice President replied that he wanted to refer not only to trade but to a broader, diplomatic area. He said that it was not clear whether the Soviet Union, in speaking of peaceful co-existence and competition, pursued as its primary purpose the objective of strengthening its own country—to which the United States, of course, had no objection—or whether in addition to that, the Soviet Union wanted to extend its influence and domination to other parts of the world. The Vice President pointed out that he was not making any charges but simply wanted to explain how the problem appeared to many people in this country. Some people in the United States are saying that the Soviet Union is developing its own strength, but that in addition to that it has placed great emphasis on extending its influence and domination to other areas of the world, such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Vice President said that he realized that in raising this point he would not meet with complete agreement on Mr. Kozlov’s part; just as had been the case when Mr. Mikoyan was in the United States. Nevertheless, it was important that this situation be understood by everyone.

Mr. Kozlov replied that he was aware of the situation mentioned by the Vice President and expressed the opinion it was due to a lack of confidence between the Soviet Union and the United States—confidence which actually should exist. He said that the Soviet Union has no interest in expanding its influence and domination, because it has everything in the way of materials needed for the development of its industry, such as bauxite, nickel, chrome, manganese and oil as well as other natural resources in the bowels of the earth within its boundaries. Moreover, practically all of Siberia is still undeveloped, and there is a great deal of work to be done there. The Soviet Union has to exert great efforts to catch up with the United States in developing natural resources. The Soviet Union, Mr. Kozlov continued, has rich deposits of oil as well as excellent cotton and other materials. For this reason the Soviet Union has no economic interest in Iraqi oil. As far as cotton is concerned, Soviet cotton is superior to Egyptian, and it was only for humanitarian reasons that the Soviet Union had bought cotton from Egypt—it simply wanted to assist Egypt, which is an underdeveloped country—in promoting its [Page 299] foreign trade.3 Mr. Kozlov then reiterated that the Soviet Union has all natural resources needed for industrial development, but that the harnessing of those resources had to be expanded in order to bring it up to the level reached by the United States. One of the areas in which this had to be done was in the field of chemical industry. Mr. Kozlov continued by saying that any talk of the Soviet Union’s wanting to impose Communism on other people was propaganda—if the people themselves do not want Communism no one could impose it upon them. In this connection, he wanted to point out that the Soviet Union is rendering technical assistance in India,4 where a social system exists that is different from that of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has no claim on India. It simply wants to assist the development of that country. He recalled that Mr. Harriman, during his visit to Moscow, had made very favorable comments with regard to the industrial combine which had been built by the Soviet Union in India, and which Mr. Harriman had seen while there. However, if India ever became a socialist country, it would require huge economic assistance for raising its standard of living. Mr. Kozlov said that he also wanted to point out that the Soviet Union had friendly relations with countries that had a totally different social system, such as, for instance, Afghanistan, Nepal and Ethiopia, which are monarchies. The relations between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union are most cordial, in spite of the fact that monarchy is almost tsarism, which, as everyone knows, is abhorred by the Soviet people even more than capitalism. The Emperor of Ethiopia is visiting the Soviet Union at this time.5 Thus, the Soviet Union has good relations not only with socialist countries but also with countries having a different social system, such as India, Indonesia, Afghanistan, etc.

In other words, the Soviet Union is not interested in expanding its borders or conquering new territories. Such relations are the true reflections of the principles of peaceful co-existence. The Soviet Union lives in peace with bourgeois India as well as with capitalist Finland. As far as Finland is concerned, the Soviet Union has no interest in swallowing that small country, and the fact that the Soviet Union has given up its base in Porkkala-Udd is evidence of the Soviet Union’s peaceful [Page 300] intentions.6 Moreover, the border between the Soviet Union and Finland is open and many Finns come to Leningrad just to go to the theater. The Finns sell butter and milk to the Soviet Union; although Finland is a small country, it has surplusses of these commodities. Thus, for instance, Mr. Kozlov continued, when he was in Finland two years ago the Finns told him that they wanted to sell their butter surplusses to the Soviet Union, a total of 1,000 tons. This was a rather small amount, Mr. Kozlov continued, sufficient to supply the population of Leningrad with butter for two breakfasts, and so, with Mr. Mikoyan’s agreement, the butter was bought.

The Vice President stated that this was a subject which could be discussed at length. However, he merely wanted to point out that he had traveled to 52 countries of the world, and that the Soviet Union would be the 53rd country. In many of those countries he had seen evidence of very intensive propaganda which could not be called peaceful co-existence. He said that he realized that the Voice of America has been charged with engaging in propaganda that the Soviets do not consider peaceful either—and this point had been raised by Mr. Mikoyan with the Vice President7—but that during his visit in Latin America8 he had seen evidence indicating that Radio Moscow had urged the population of those countries to engage in hostile demonstrations against the Vice President of the United States. Of course, this was a personal experience, and he realized that demonstrations occasionally go in the other direction too, but the main point is that on both sides there must be mutual recognition that both the United States and the Soviet Union are strong economically and militarily, and that it is necessary to avoid words and actions outside which tend to inflame the population against certain countries.

Mr. Kozlov expressed full agreement with the Vice President’s latter statement but noted that he could not agree that Radio Moscow had incited people in Latin America against the President or the Vice President of the United States; the Vice President must have received fabricated information. On the contrary, the Soviet press had carried very favorable articles about the Vice President. True, the Vice President has a different ideology, but his approach to problems is rational, particularly with regard to cooperation between nations. This fact had also been noted by Khrushchev, at least on two occasions.

[Page 301]

The Vice President said he wanted to discuss the situation in a somewhat different context. He remarked that his attitude to the military strength of the USSR and the United States may be somewhat different from the attitude taken by some other people, and that what he wanted to say was that one could read statements (although these are not made by the President, the Vice President or the Secretary of State) to the effect that the United States has a military potential of destroying any aggressor. At the same time, there are statements by Mr. Khrushchev to the effect that the Soviet Union has missiles and bombs capable of destroying any enemy of the Soviet Union. Now his attitude was, the Vice President continued, that there is no sense in arguing who has more missiles or more bombs; what is important is that there be a mutual understanding that neither side should get such advantages as would force the other side to diplomatic surrender or would assure to a great extent the military destruction of the other side without that side having enough military potential left to return the blow. The Soviet Union is a strong nation both militarily and economically and its people are determined to protect their homeland. On the other hand, the people of the United States are also determined to protect their homeland—this should be realized by both sides.

Mr. Kozlov said that he agreed with the Vice President and stated that no objective would be justified in a future war. The Soviet Union knows that the United States is a mighty country; it knows that the United States has H-bombs. Of course, the United States knows that the reverse is also true. Therefore, if the United States should send its aircraft with H-bombs to drop such bombs in the Soviet Union and should the Soviet Union fire its missiles on the United States, this would cause great damage to the Soviet Union—that is true. But the Soviet Union knows that it will destroy the enemy. Soviet missiles are ready for launching; they are in mass production now, which means they are produced one after another.

However, the Soviet people are against war. Mr. Kozlov recalled that within his and his wife’s family 10 persons had been killed during the last war and that there was no family in the USSR that had not suffered losses in one form or another during the past two wars. For this reason the Soviet people value their achievements and love their country, just as the American people love theirs. But the Soviet people will fight staunchly if they have to.

Mr. Kozlov then suggested that the Soviet Union and the United States should engage in peaceful competition in various areas of human endeavor. For instance, they could compete in the field of corn. In this connection, he wanted to note the useful contacts that had been established between one of the outstanding American corn producers, Mr. [Page 302] Garst, and the Soviet organizations concerned.9 The United States and the Soviet Union could also compete in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy. During his visit to the construction site of the U.S. atomic ship Savannah, American engineers had given Mr. Kozlov very useful and broad information, for which he wanted to express his thanks, but at the same time they showed great interest in Soviet experiences gained in connection with the construction of the Soviet atomic ice-breaker Lenin. American engineers felt that there was much they could learn from Soviet engineers.

Mr. Kozlov continued by saying that the Soviet Union did not object to criticism by Americans, and recalled in this connection the fact that Mr. Harriman had noted that a great shortage of housing still existed in the Soviet Union. Mr. Harriman was right, but one should take into account the fact that the United States had no war on its territory, while the Soviet Union’s territory was devastated during the last war.

Mr. Kozlov said he wanted to emphasize that, not only as a representative of the Soviet Government but as a Russian citizen, he knew the peaceful feelings of the Soviet people, but he also knew that if something should happen they would sweep away the enemy. For this reason, both the Soviet Foreign Ministry—and here Mr. Kozlov said he was not patting the back of his own Foreign Ministry—and the United States State Department should be more flexible in their approaches to various problems, because this is the essence of co-existence.

The Vice President interjected that flexibility means giving on both sides.

The Vice President said that he wanted to suggest two points with regard to Mr. Kozlov’s present visit. He said that he believed that even if Mr. Kozlov went back home without any changes in the Soviet position, his visit would have been a useful one. Also, he wanted to suggest one variation to Mr. Kozlov’s program in the United States. He believes that the present program places too great an emphasis on meeting the American big businessmen and that greater emphasis should be placed on meetings with wage-earners, workers and farmers, so as to give Mr. Kozlov an opportunity to meet American people at large. This, the Vice President said, was based on his own experience during his many trips to foreign countries.

The Vice President also said that he wanted to suggest that if some concrete result, however small, is obtained from Mr. Kozlov’s visit to the United States, this would have a very favorable influence in the United States. Of course, he didn’t expect the Berlin situation to be resolved, but there were smaller things as, for instance, the matter of travel restrictions. [Page 303] Mr. Kozlov’s visit to Pittsburgh and other closed areas in the United States and his own trip to the Soviet Union could result in opening Soviet closed cities on the basis of reciprocity. This would influence the situation usefully.

Mr. Kozlov said that he had no disagreement with this suggestion and recalled Mr. Khrushchev’s statement with regard to Mr. Harriman’s visit that Mr. Harriman was free to go wherever he wanted to go. Of course, Mr. Harriman’s visit was a private one, whereas the Vice President’s would be an official visit. If the Vice President wanted to go to the Angara, this would be all right. The reason for Siberia being closed for foreign travel was not because the Soviet Union had secrets in that area but rather because it is a quite inaccessible area, difficult for travel. All doors would be open to the Vice President during his stay in the USSR. If he wanted to see the ice-breaker Lenin, or the atomic research institute in Dubno, or any of the new construction projects in the Soviet Union, that would be all right. The Vice President would be welcome everywhere. However, Mr. Kozlov said, the only advice he wanted to give to the Vice President was that he should gather his strength because the Soviet Union was larger than the United States and the distances are much greater. The Soviet Union has many places that the Vice President could visit.

The Vice President replied that he realized that there was no problem with regard to travel to closed areas on an individual basis. However, he said, that he believed that if this were to be formalized on a broader basis, this would have a very favorable effect on the Russian and American peoples. The Vice President observed that this question was under discussion between the two governments at the present time and that he was not trying to put Mr. Kozlov on the spot.

Mr. Kozlov agreed that expanded contacts would be useful. Referring to propaganda, Mr. Kozlov said that recently Mr. Gold, an American correspondent, and his wife had visited the Soviet Union and that Mr. Gold upon his return to the United States had published articles which could not be characterized as anything but slanderous. Mr. Gold had published his articles under such headlines as “Woman is the Work-Horse of Russia” and “What Mules Do in Spain, Women do in the Soviet Union”.10 Such articles and headlines do not promote mutual understanding and improvement of mutual relations between the USSR and the United States.

Mr. Kozlov said that during his visit to the atomic ship Savannah he had seen several workers suffering from heat prostration, and that if someone used that fact for articles generalizing the working conditions [Page 304] in the United States this would be an unfair description of the situation and would be sheer propaganda. Contacts should serve the purpose of promoting better understanding between our two peoples. The United States has certain deficiencies and shortcomings, including shortcomings with regard to the atomic ship Savannah. And the Soviet Union also has certain shortcomings, but all this should not be used as an obstacle to improvement in mutual understanding between our two peoples.

The Vice President said he wanted to raise another point. He said that New York, where the Soviet exhibition is taking place, is a great cultural center of the United States, and that Leningrad, a city which Mr. Kozlov knows very well, is also one of the great cultural centers of the Soviet Union. Therefore, the Vice President continued, he hoped that Mr. Kozlov could use his influence in order to expedite the exchange between our two governments of consulates in these two cities.

Mr. Kozlov replied that this question was new to him and that it has to be studied. He apologized that he didn’t know anything about it.

The Vice President pointed out that the point was that little yardage should be made first before long distances are covered. Therefore, concrete results in small limited areas should be an encouragement to people that the problem in greater areas could be resolved.

Mr. Kozlov replied that contacts are indeed very useful and the Soviet people know this very well. The Soviet Union is in favor of expanding contacts in all fields. In particular, he felt that an expansion of contacts in the artistic field would be very useful.

The Vice President said that he wanted to raise a last point. He referred to Mr. Macmillan’s visit to the Soviet Union11 during which the representatives of the British press accompanying Mr. Macmillan were exempted from censorship. Some representatives of the American press will accompany the Vice President on his trip to the Soviet Union and it was our hope that there would be no discrimination of American press as against the British press. The Vice President expressed the belief that it is always better to have a broad coverage of visits such as that.

Mr. Kozlov replied that during Mr. Macmillan’s visit to the Soviet Union the British press was very objective. The point raised by the Vice President would, of course, be discussed. Mr. Kozlov expressed the belief that by the time of the Vice President’s arrival in the Soviet Union this problem would have been fully studied and resolved.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/7–159. Secret. Drafted by Akalovsky on July 6 and cleared by the Vice President’s office on July 10. The meeting was held in Nixon’s office.
  2. See footnote 6, Document 79.
  3. Reference may be to contracts obtained by the British firms, Courtaulds Ltd. and Prinex Ltd., a subsidiary, in early 1959 to supply complete plants and technical processes to the Soviet Union for the manufacture of various synthetic materials.
  4. An economic and technical agreement between the Soviet Union and Egypt signed in Moscow on January 29, 1958, provided, among other things, for a Soviet long-term loan, which Egypt would repay in part by supplying Egyptian goods, including cotton, to the Soviet Union.
  5. A 5-year trade agreement between the Soviet Union and India signed in Moscow on November 16, 1958, provided, among other things, for Soviet exports to India of industrial and power equipment, machinery, machine tools, tractors, and other products.
  6. Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, made an official visit to the Soviet Union June 29–July 13.
  7. In September 1955, the Soviet Union and Finland signed an agreement providing for the return to Finland of the Porkkala naval base, which Finland had leased to the Soviet Union in 1947 for 50 years.
  8. See Document 61.
  9. Nixon made a good will tour of eight South American countries April 27–May 15, 1958.
  10. See footnote 5, Document 79.
  11. Not further identified.
  12. Harold Macmillan made an official visit to the Soviet Union February 21–March 3.