29. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy0


  • Air Transport Negotiations with the Soviet Government1

You will recall that Ambassador Thompson presented an aide-memoire to the Soviet Government on January 24 which indicated that the United States Government was prepared to proceed with negotiations for an air transport agreement with the U.S.S.R. On February 4, the Soviet Government accepted our proposal and suggested that negotiations begin at a mutually agreeable date. We now propose to deliver an aide-memoire to the Soviet Embassy stating that we will present a draft agreement within the next 30 days and that we suggest that negotiations be held in Washington at a mutually agreeable time once the Soviet Government has completed its examination of our draft agreement.

Negotiations for an air transport agreement with the Soviet Government were scheduled to have begun last July 18. They were postponed on July 14 at our initiative following the shooting down of the RB-47 aircraft. The original undertaking for an air transport agreement was contained in the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Exchange Agreement of January 27, 1958 and repeated in the Exchange Agreement of November 21, 1959. The United States had on several occasions since 1958 attempted to obtain Soviet agreement to an actual commencement of negotiations but only in March of last year did the Soviet Government finally make a concrete proposal. The United States accepted the Soviet proposal, and negotiations, as I have indicated, were set for July. On the eve of the negotiations, the Soviet Government presented a draft agreement, but the negotiations were postponed before we were able to submit a counterdraft.

In the general context of improving relations with the Soviet Union, we have two principal aims for an air transport agreement. The first is the safe and orderly development of direct air transportation between the two countries on the basis of reciprocal rights consistent with our national security. Secondly, we foresee an intelligence benefit as well as some advantage in demonstrating the high state of our civil aviation to [Page 77] the Soviet people. We would insure, of course, that any agreement contained adequate provisions for possible suspension or termination if this should subsequently be in our interests.

Pan American Airways was certificated some time ago by the Civil Aeronautics Board as the American carrier to serve the U.S.S.R. We would expect that a representative of Pan American would participate in the negotiations in an observer status. The route so far proposed by both sides has been New York-Moscow with no “beyond” rights.

If you approve, we will deliver to the Soviet Embassy an aide-memoire along the lines I have mentioned.2

Dean Rusk3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.6194/2-1661. Secret. Drafted by Harry G. Barnes, Jr., (EUR/SOV) and cleared by Kohler and Edward A. Bolster (TRC).
  2. Following approval by the President, on February 21 McSweeney gave Soviet Minister-Counselor Smirnovsky an aide-memoire proposing that negotiations for an air transport agreement begin in Washington at a mutually agreeable date. A memorandum of McSweeneyʼs conversation with Smirnovsky and a copy of the aide-memoire are ibid., 611.6194/2-2161.
  3. On February 20 Kohler sent Rusk a memorandum recommending that the United States negotiate an agreement with the Soviet Union providing for consulates in New York and St. Petersburg. (Ibid., 611.61421/2-2061) Three days later the Department of State instructed the Embassy in Moscow to inform the Soviet Foreign Ministry that the United States was prepared to begin negotiations for a consular convention in Moscow at the earliest mutually agreeable date. (Telegram 1365; ibid., 611.61241/2-2361)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.