59. Editorial Note

On October 24, 1962, Acting Secretary-General U Thant sent identical messages to President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev appealing to them to refrain from “any action which may aggravate the situation and bring with it the risk of war.” He requested that each side take some time “to enable the parties concerned to get together with a view to resolving the present crisis peacefully and normalizing the situation in the Caribbean.” (American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, page 422) Also printed in Department of State Bulletin, November 12, 1962, page 740.

On October 25 President Kennedy responded to the Secretary-General reiterating U.S. statements made in the Security Council and assuring U Thant of his desire to reach a satisfactory solution of the crisis. (American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, page 424) Chairman Khrushchev also wrote to U Thant on October 25 welcoming and agreeing with the Acting Secretary-General’s initiative. (Ibid., page 425)

U Thant responded to Chairman Khrushchev the same day requesting that Soviet ships en route to Cuba avoid the interception area imposed by the U.S. quarantine in order to allow time for discussion of an agreement under the U.N. Charter. In a letter to President Kennedy, also on October 25, U Thant appealed to him to issue instructions to U.S. ships in the Caribbean to “do everything possible to avoid direct confrontation with Soviet ships in the next few days in order to minimize the risk of any untoward incident” and expressed the hope that a settlement could be reached quickly. (Both ibid., pages 425-426)