392. Memorandum of telephone conversation between McGeorge Bundy and Ball, October 241

[Facsimile Page 1]

Ball—Have you talked to the Pres. recently?

Bundy—Not lately. I talked to Bob just after he talked to him, and I understand this process is to give a challenge and if we get an acceptable answer, let her go.

Ball—That’s right. Now the President is concerned about this.

Bundy—I’m just going over to talk to him. Can I call you back?

Ball—Let me fill you in before you go. What we tentatively talked about was this. That we might try to get Stevenson rather than giving the reply to U Thant which we had talked about.

Bundy—Yes, which we did not deliver.

Ball—Not yet anyway. To try to get Thant tonight to send a message to K saying that he is concerned that there will be a confrontation at sea in the morning or tomorrow. That this could be a situation which could escalate; that he, therefore, ask K to hold his ships away from Cuba until there is a chance for a discussion as to the modalities of the negotiation.

Bundy—Stevenson would go to Thant to do this tonight?


Bundy—Have you suggested that to the President?

Ball—The President and I talked about this, and I told the President I would explore it with Stevenson.

Bundy—Have you done so?

Ball—Not yet. I just checked it out with Rusk, and he is agreeable.

Bundy—I think it is worth trying. On that basis however, we ought to let Bucharest alone through the night.

Ball—Oh, we would. As a matter we weren’t going to do it tonight.

Bundy—No, they are planning a challenge.

Ball—At what hour?

[Facsimile Page 2]

Bundy—At 0200

Ball—Let me call Bob

[Typeset Page 1190]

Bundy—Let’s wait til you get your, I’ll talk to the President and I’ll call you back. The instructions at sea are to intercept and report for orders.

Ball—All right. Do you want in the meantime for me to get hold of Stevenson?

Bundy—Try Stevenson and I’ll go over and talk to the Pres. and call you back.


  1. President’s concern over challenging ship at sea; possible message for U Thant to send to Khrushchev. No classification marking. 2 pp. DOS, Ball Papers: Lot 74 D 272, Telcons—Cuba.