93. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower0


  • Vice President Nixon
  • Secretary Dillon
  • Major Eisenhower

The President opened by giving the Vice President a piece of correspondence from Prime Minister Macmillan containing advice on how to deal with the Soviet personalities in his forthcoming trip.1 To place his view in perspective, the President quoted a question he had received in Press Conference this morning asking what the President would like Mr. Nixon to ask Khrushchev.2 The President had pointed out that the Vice President constitutionally has a position of his own and goes on such missions only at the request and as a representative of the President. He is not a normal part of the negotiating machinery. With regard to his exact schedule, the Vice President confirmed that he plans to visit Poland on the way back from Moscow and has no plans to go to Paris.

[Here follows discussion on the possibility of Nixon stopping in Paris to see President De Gaulle after his visit to Poland and on the Foreign Ministers Meeting in Geneva. This part of the memorandum is printed in volume VIII, Document 466.]

As to tactics in dealing with the Russians, the President recommended a cordial, almost light, atmosphere, on the basis that once the Soviets get us worried they act tough. He said the Vice President can probably expect to be filled up with the same old line. To this, Mr. Nixon expressed his intention of debating with Khrushchev and countering his points. He feels he has an excellent chance to probe and cause some blurting out of Khrushchev’s real feelings. He also said he hoped to lay to rest some of Khrushchev’s misconceptions about America, particularly with regard to the familiar line that the American people want peace but their leaders do not. He would point out that the reason that our Parties are unified in foreign policy is that our people believe the way our leaders do.

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The President agreed to this and pointed out how we have changed our view of the Soviet people over the last three years. In 1956 we pictured them as sullen and discouraged. Now we have discovered that, despite their governmental system, which is abhorrent to us, they are able to maintain a high morale.

Mr. Nixon expects that the Poles will announce the fact that he is visiting their country. The trip to Poland, he feels, will be very helpful, particularly since he will have the unusual privilege of talking with Gomulka. In Russia, he feels an important matter will be his opportunity to see the icebreaker Lenin. For this purpose he is taking Admiral Rickover along.3 [3–1/2 lines of source text not declassified] The Vice President pointed out that in the missile field this is not the case. He hopes to see a missile assembly line similar to the Thor assembly line we showed Tupolev. [1–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

Finally, the President advised Mr. Nixon not to be afraid to talk substantive matters and to be positive with the Soviets in his conversations with Khrushchev.

John S. D. Eisenhower
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Top Secret. Prepared by Major Eisenhower and initialed by Goodpaster.
  2. Macmillan’s July 22 letter to Eisenhower contained Macmillan’s “general reflections” for the Vice President on how to deal with Khrushchev. He stressed Khrushchev’s apparent abandonment of direct aggression and his emphasis on “competitive co-existence,” his interest in developing the Soviet economy, his desire for respectability, his intense suspicion of the West, and his resentment at plain speaking. (Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204)
  3. For the transcript of the President’s July 22 press conference, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959, pp. 536–546.
  4. A memorandum prepared by McSweeney on July 15 on Kozlov’s tour of the nuclear reactor at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, on July 11, which was under the personal direction of Admiral Rickover, noted that Rickover called McSweeney on July 13 to say, among other things, that Kozlov had assured Rickover that he would be welcome to visit Soviet atomic power installations at any time. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/7–1159)