92. Record of Meeting of the Policy Planning Council0

PARTICIPANTS

  • George McGhee
  • John Curtis
  • Leon Fuller
  • Robert Packard
  • Henry Ramsey
  • Ambassador Bohlen
  • Edward Rice
  • Carlton Savage
  • William Webb
  • Howard Wriggins

Mr. McGhee asked Mr. Bohlen to give the Council a brief account of the Presidentʼs recent trip to Europe.

Mr. Bohlen began by stating that President Kennedy had made a great impression on De Gaulle, his understanding of French problems, [Page 238]and that the President had stood up to De Gaulle “full face”. He mentioned that about all that was really accomplished, however, was a decision to work out a mechanism for consultation.

Mr. Bohlen gave a brief account of the proceedings of the talks in Vienna. (This account followed the lines of information presented in the Secretaryʼs cables on the meeting.) He discussed the details of the Soviet aide-memoire on Berlin and said that nothing had really been gained or lost on the problem of Berlin. He mentioned that Khrushchev was willing to hold the Vienna meeting because he wanted to get across the contents of the aide-memoire and to inform us that his policy had not changed with regard to the Troika inspection formula. He said that the meeting had gone off rather much as expected and that it was worthwhile from the standpoint that (1) it had solidified positions that needed to be solidified; (2) Adenauer had been very pleased at our standing up to Khrushchev; (3) Kennedy had made a great hit among the Europeans; and (4) Khrushchev had, undoubtedly, been impressed with President Kennedyʼs popularity. He said that he also thought that Khrushchev had been impressed with President Kennedyʼs general ability.

Mr. McGhee asked Mr. Bohlen whether President Kennedy had discussed the Washington-Moscow direct telephone link with Khrushchev, to which Bohlen replied in the negative.

Mr. Bohlen went on to say that the Russian position on Berlin was essentially a very weak one and that he thought that S/P should submit a proposal for handing over the Berlin question to the ICJ to test whether a war-time power could unilaterally hand over its treaty responsibilities to a non-participant. He mentioned that considering Khrushchevʼs various deviations from his firm statement in 1958 on the Berlin situation2 it was difficult to tell whether he was now bluffing or how, but that if the Russians set a time limit at the Party Congress in October on settlement of the Berlin question, this would be a sign that they were not bluffing.

Mr. Bohlen said that there was no hint of a USSR-Chinese schism at the meeting. He said that nothing had been mentioned about another meeting. He ended by saying that on the whole this meeting had a great psychological impact and benefit in Europe.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 70 D 199. Secret. Drafted and initialed by Curtis.
  2. Presumably Bohlen is referring to Khrushchevʼs interview in Pravda, February 8, 1958.