363. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • US-USSR Relations


  • US
    • The President
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Thompson
    • Assistant Secretary Tyler
    • Mr. Akalovsky, ACDA/IR
  • USSR
    • Foreign Minister Gromyko
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Semenov
    • Ambassador Dobrynin
    • Mr. Sukhodrev, Foreign Ministry
[Page 792]

Mr. Gromyko said he wished to raise the matter of broad relations between the US and the USSR. He thought the Secretary and himself were in agreement that our two countries occupied a position in the world which was decisive in determining, in the long run, whether or not there would be agreement on any important problem in the world. He recalled that the President had expressed a similar thought during last yearʼs conversation.1 He had reported this to Mr. Khrushchev and the latter believed that this was a reasonable view. If this were to be personified, he believed that understanding between the President and Mr. Khrushchev was most important for the world. The USSR was familiar with the Presidentʼs speech on June 10 at the American University.2 He believed the President was aware of the assessment his statements, including the one at the American University, had been given in the USSR. The Presidentʼs statements had been received positively in the USSR, both by the Soviet Government as a whole and by Mr. Khrushchev in particular. This was a definite and deliberate line in the Soviet policy vis-à-vis the US. If the US took the same line, then there was reason for an optimistic assessment of the prospects for the development of our relations. What the Soviet Union wanted to do was to give this a concrete form. Perhaps this was not new to the President, because all messages from Mr. Khrushchev were in this spirit. If this line was followed with determination then such synthetic (sic) problems as disarmament, Germany, etc., could be resolved much more easily than in a situation where the two sides quarreled.

The President said he appreciated Mr. Gromykoʼs remarks. The US attempted to carry out the policy enunciated in the American University speech. As he had stated in his press conference yesterday,3 there were areas of disagreement between our two countries, but he felt it was up to Mr. Khrushchev and him to do everything possible to prevent us from colliding. There were such questions as, for example, Laos where we hoped the USSR would exert its influence to prevent the situation from collapsing. Another matter of concern to us was of course Cuba. It was [Page 793] helpful that Soviet troops had been leaving, because this lessened the international importance of that problem. As had been stated before, the United States had no intention of invading Cuba. As to Germany, the President saw no reason why the situation there should be incendiary. He stressed incidents should be avoided in the corridors because they created unnecessary nuisance and irritation. Reverting to the American University speech, the President said it had been addressed more to the U.S. audience than to the Soviet, but we had tried to carry out that policy.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series,USSR, Gromyko Talks. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Akalovsky and approved by the White House on October 21 and by S on October 16. The meeting was held at the White House. The Presidentʼs conversation with Gromyko was divided into 11 memoranda of conversation. The memorandum on disarmament is in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. VII, pp. 894895. The memorandum on Cuba is ibid., vol. XI, pp. 875877. The memorandum on Berlin is ibid., vol. XV, pp. 591594. Memoranda of the conversations on the next steps after the Moscow treaty, a non-aggression pact, observation posts, military budgets, non-dissemination of nuclear weapons, and bombs in orbit are not printed. ( Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series,USSR, Gromyko Talks) For a memorandum of the conversation on US-USSR trade relations, see Document 364. A briefing memorandum for the conversation from Thompson to the President, dated October 8, is in Department of State, Central Files, POL US-USSR.
  2. See Document 253.
  3. See Document 328.
  4. For a transcript of the Presidentʼs press conference on October 9, at which he had announced that the U.S. Government would not prohibit grain sales to the Soviet Union, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, pp. 767-775.