81. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Mr. Frol Kozlov, Deputy Prime Minister USSR
  • Mr. Merchant, Assistant Secretary EUR

While seeing Kozlov off at the airport and waiting for his plane to be refueled I had a conversation with him lasting nearly half an hour. No one was present throughout except his interpreter though newspapermen kept sidling up and attempting to eavesdrop. Toward the end Ambassador Menshikov joined us.

I opened by handing him the President’s letter which he immediately opened and asked to have translated.1 He expressed obvious pleasure and said it was a most thoughtful note of thanks for his pres-ents to the President and Mrs. Eisenhower. He asked that I communicate to the President his appreciation which I promised to do. He then noted that the painting he had given the President was entitled, “Spring,” and that he hoped this was the breaking up of the ice of winter and would soon move into the summer of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. I said that this was more dependent on actions and policies of the Soviet Union than it was on us.

Kozlov then launched into an exposition of the importance of good relations between our two countries. He said that they were large and powerful like ourselves and wanted to live in peace. He emphasized the importance of developing trade. I said that we also desired only to live in peace but that there was more to it than trade. In so far as the latter was concerned I said that there was a very broad area in which trade was unrestricted and that I thought the low volume of commerce between our two countries was due to the fact that we were not particularly interested in what they had for export and that they were not particularly interested in consumer goods which formed the bulk of our exports. He said that they were interested in machinery and factories and that the British were supplying them as well as “our friend Adenauer.”2 I said that patent difficulties were an obstacle but he did [Page 306] not reply to this point. He then went on to say that they had more materials than we had and as an example we lacked asbestos. I said that this was true but that our good friends in Canada had ample asbestos which represented a convenient and reliable source of supply.

I then changed the conversation by pointing to the view of the Capitol which he compared to a cathedral in Leningrad. We discussed architects of that period and I mentioned that our Capitol was now being rebuilt and in fact it had to be rebuilt after the British burned it in the War of 1812. Kozlov said that the Russians helped us in the War of 1812 (which he characterized as “our rebellion against the British”) by bringing their fleet into San Francisco.3 I said that my recollection was that at the time San Francisco was a part of Mexico. He denied this and after a little we dropped the argument.

[Here follows discussion of the Berlin question, printed in volume VIII, Document 425.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/7–359. Confidential. Drafted and initialed by Merchant.
  2. A copy of Eisenhower’s July 1 letter to Kozlov is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1409.
  3. A trade agreement between the Soviet Union and West Germany signed in Moscow on April 8, 1958, provided, among other things, that during the period 1958–1960, the Soviet Union would place large orders for various kinds of machinery and equipment in West Germany.
  4. Kozlov was apparently thinking of the visit of the Russian fleet to San Francisco during the U.S. Civil War.