27. Editorial Note

On May 1, a U–2 airplane used by the U.S. Government for high-altitude reconnaissance of the Soviet Union was shot down near Sverdlovsk. The pilot, Francis Gary Powers, parachuted to the ground and was picked up by Soviet authorities. On May 5 Premier Khrushchev announced that an American plane had been shot down, but said nothing about the fate of the pilot. Khrushchev finally announced on May 7 that Powers was alive and had confessed the plane’s reconnaissance mission. Documentation on the U–2 crisis is in Part 1, Documents 147156.

The summit conference, which began in Paris on May 16, broke down after one session, when Khrushchev insisted that President Eisenhower condemn the U–2 overflight program and publicly apologize to the Soviet Union. Khrushchev also withdrew the invitation to the President to visit the Soviet Union. When Eisenhower refused to accede to Khrushchev’s demands, Khrushchev announced that he would not participate in the talks. Documentation on the abortive Paris summit meeting is in volume IX.

Although the subject of East-West exchanges was not raised during the one session of the summit conference on May 16, a number of briefing and background papers on this subject were prepared for the conference. A paper entitled “Cultural Exchanges and Freedom of Information” is at Tab E of the section pertaining to the U.S. position on East-West relations in the Briefing Book for the conference. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 559, CF 1675) A number of separate background papers on specific aspects of East-West exchanges, all dated May 11 and prepared by the U.S. Information Agency, are ibid., CF 1669.