173. Editorial Note

At 8:30 p.m., on November 12, 1962, Robert F. Kennedy went to the Soviet Embassy’s reception for the Bolshoi Ballet. The Attorney General gave Ambassador Dobrynin an oral message. According to a typed note with a handwritten note by Bromley Smith, the message was: “if the Soviet Union will at once give the order to start removing IL-28’s and complete the removal in 30 days we would be prepared immediately to announce the removal of the quarantine.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 11/11/62-11/15/62)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the former Soviet Union has made available the following version of what Robert Kennedy proposed to Dobrynin:

“During the second meeting with A.F. Dobrynin on the evening of November 12, R. Kennedy, under instruction from the President, formulated the US proposal in this way: ‘N.S. Khrushchev and the President agree in principle that the IL-28 aircraft shall be withdrawn within a certain period of time. Following this agreement the US will immediately, even tomorrow, lift all quarantine, without waiting for the completion of the aircraft pullout. The US side would, of course, prefer that the agreed time period for withdrawing the IL-28 aircraft were made public. However, if the Soviet side has any objections to making it public, the President will not insist. N.S. Khrushchev’s word would be quite suffice. As for the period of time, it would be good if the aircraft were withdrawn within, say, 30 days.’” (This proposal was received in Moscow on November 13.)

Arthur M. Scheslinger, Jr., in Robert Kennedy and His Times, writes an account of the Kennedy-Dobrynin meeting, page 549.