696. Memorandum of conversation between McGeorge Bundy and Ball, July 31

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Bundy said the President was in favor of the travel restrictions problem, in principle. Ball told Bundy that he had talked to the Secretary about it and that he was coming over at 4. Bundy suggested they meet a few minutes after the 4 o’clock meeting on this. Bundy asked how the Secretary felt about it and Ball replied he raised a few questions and said he wanted to go into it further. Ball does not think he is categorically for it or against it.

Bundy continued that Schwartz told him they were all ready to go. Franckel left word with Bundy’s secretary that he was getting so many sniffs of this that he was going to have to write it and he didn’t want to have to write it wrong. Bundy felt that if he was about to write and it’s edging busting out of the Government, then the thing to do is in fact to go ahead. Actually, Independence Day is a pretty good day to do. One question in the President’s mind is likely to be we are absolutely clear that this is something we don’t do for Cuba. Ball replied this also was one of the questions the Secretary and he had in mind. Ball said he could see a certain amount of merit in not singling Cuba out. Bundy said his Cuban experts say the problem you then get into is the Latin Americans and anti-subversion efforts and how are you going to prevent them from letting all their students go if the Yankees can go. Ball replied you get into this at some extent even with Red China. This would be taken as an encouragement in many quarters if the US says it’s fine.

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Bundy said the President could just boldly say “I’m against walls of all kinds, and now that I’ve seen one in Berlin I feel more strongly.” Ball said he would get a lot of cheers in a lot of quarters and brickbats in others of course. Ball said he would sound the Secretary out a little more on it. Bundy replied he thought if we were going to have the initiative he thought he had to act, and Ball agreed.

  1. Travel restrictions to Cuba. No classification marking. 1 p. Kennedy Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Cuba.