12. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union0

1181. Eyes only for Amb. Thompson. Aide-Memoire.

The United States Government is gratified by the decision of the Soviet Government to release Captain Freeman B. Olmstead and Captain John R. McKone, members of the crew of the United States Air Force RB-47 aircraft who have been detained by the Soviet authorities since July 1, 1960. The United States Government considers that this action of the Soviet Government removes a serious obstacle to improvement of Soviet-American relations.

The Soviet Government is fully aware of the United States Government views with respect to the distinction between the question of the United States Air Force RB-47 and the incident which occurred over Soviet territory on May 1, 1960, involving an American U-2 type aircraft. Flights of American aircraft penetrating the air space of the Soviet Union have been suspended since May 1960 and President Kennedy has ordered that they not be resumed.

As respects the stated willingness of the Soviet Government not to insist on discussion at the resumed Fifteenth Session of the United Nations General Assembly of the Soviet inscribed item “concerning aggressive actions of the USA,” it would not seem feasible to the United States Government to seek to remove specific items already included on the General Assembly agenda. However the United States Government believes that in so far as possible the work of the United Nations should be approached in a constructive manner and that restraint should be exercised in debating matters of difference between member states. The United States Delegation to the resumed session will approach its tasks in this spirit.

As was stated in the inaugural address of the President of the United States and reiterated in his message to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of January 21, the United States Government shares the hope expressed by the Soviet Government that progress can be made toward improving the relationship between the two countries and toward common efforts of both governments designed to assure a peaceful and more fruitful life for all mankind. The United States Government, for its part, will do everything within its power to promote these high purposes.

[Page 35]

While the United States Government will naturally wish to study carefully and deliberately the broader international issues, it is prepared to proceed without delay to practical first steps in the field of relations between the United States and the USSR. In this connection, the United States suggests a prompt review through diplomatic channels of proposals presented by either side.1 The United States Government is ready, for example, at the early convenience of the Soviet Government to undertake the negotiations with regard to an air transport agreement which were postponed in July 1960. The United States Government would also be pleased to proceed expeditiously to renewed consideration of the proposal which has been previously discussed between the two governments for the establishment of a United States Consulate General at Leningrad and of a Soviet Consulate General at New York.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 761.5411/1-2361. Confidential; Verbatim Text. Also printed in Declassified Documents, 1977, 73C.
  2. For a statement by Secretary Rusk on January 23 along similar lines, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, p. 560.
  3. On January 24 Thompson reported that he had delivered the aide-memoire to Kuznetzov at 11:30 a.m. that day and had suggested that the fliers leave Moscow on January 25. (Telegram 1729 from Moscow; Department of State, Central Files, 761.5411/1-2461) In a later telegram Thompson stated that Kuznetzov had discussed the question with Khrushchev who agreed to the release on January 25 and transmitted the text of a statement that the Soviet Government would issue unilaterally the following day concerning the release. (Telegram 1735 from Moscow; ibid.; printed in Declassified Documents, 1977, 73D)