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

Secto 38. Eyes only for the President. Best wishes to you and Mrs. Kennedy for a deeply satisfying and safe visit to Caracas and Bogota.1

Thursday meeting of NATO ministers will I believe prove most productive.2 Intelligence and strategic discussion by McNamara and me proved to be a sobering and highly appreciated presentation to Allies of facts of life and regarded by them as unprecedented in NATO experience. Now remains to be seen whether they will follow up with increased effort to strengthen Alliance. There seems little doubt about readiness of all but France to rally behind your leadership on handling [Page 340] Berlin question and even France has moved significantly in trying to close that gap. Allies now understand our effort to remove nuclear war from realm of magical incantation for solving problems and our reasons for seeking alternatives between surrender or incineration if enemy leaves us any such choices. Will see Norstad on Friday to clarify any questions remaining in his mind about what is expected of him.

Believe Thompson should have first talk in Moscow before Christmas, perhaps immediately following Bermuda meeting,3 in order not let that situation drift back into harsh stand off of last summer. It is entirely clear from here that firmness of democratic peoples of Alliance must rest upon their knowledge every reasonable effort being made to find acceptable peaceful solution.

Will make full report your return.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–PA/12–1561. Secret. According to another copy of this telegram it was drafted by Rusk. (Ibid., Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF2002)
  2. President Kennedy visited Latin America December 15–19.
  3. Reports on the individual sessions of the North Atlantic Treaty Council meetings held at Paris, December 13–15, as well as briefing papers, telegrams sent to and from the U.S. Delegation, and other documents relating to the meeting are in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF 2002–2014.
  4. See Document 387.