104. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State0

Secto 54. Eyes only for the President. Before going on to Geneva1 I want to give you some reflections on my first NATO Ministerial Conference and the contacts I have made here in Oslo.

I think our decision to encourage effective consultation by talking less about how to consult and just starting consulting has paid off. In my opening statement2 I tried to be in some ways almost brutally frank about world problems, notably Cuba, Laos and the Congo. My colleagues from the other countries responded in kind. These exchanges were even-tempered and moderated by understanding. The old timers, both US and foreign, say that it is the most open and intimate political discussion in NATO within their memories.
On the whole I think there was a sophisticated understanding about Cuba. My frankness with respect to the “failure” may have disturbed them somewhat. Even Canadian Foreign Minister Green, who unquestionably came prepared to be critical, expressed understanding and a willingness to be helpful at the end.
The new Secretary General, Dirk Stikker, handled the meetings superbly well both in open session and in behind-the-scenes spade work. I think we can be very pleased and look forward to good results during his tenure.
On all sides there were expressions of appreciation for the firm expression of US intent to maintain its forces in Europe and to be prepared to use the nuclear deterrent in defense of the entire NATO area. I had the feeling that European uneasiness in this respect has somewhat lessened.
Despite Cuba and Laos I believe basic confidence in our leadership and desire for its vigorous exercise are in no way lessened. In particular almost everyone reflected to me the great impression that you have made in this initial period not only in the foreign field but also in the lines of your domestic program.
I leave also with the strong feeling that in NATO we have a really vital asset.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–OS/5–1061. Secret; Niact.
  2. For the 14-nation conference on Laos, May 12–20.
  3. Verbatim records, U.S. delegation summary telegraphic reports, memoranda of conversations, position papers, and briefings for the North Atlantic Council meeting held at Oslo, May 8–10, are in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 1855–1867.