35. Editorial Note

While President Kennedy went to London to brief Prime Minister Macmillan on the conversations with de Gaulle and Khrushchev (see Document 34), Secretary of State Rusk went to Paris to brief the North Atlantic Council and the French on the meetings in Vienna. In a conversation at 3 p.m. at the Elysee Palace, Rusk summarized the discussions on Laos, disarmament, Cuba, Africa, and Berlin, noting in particular that Khrushchev had appeared rather relaxed on all the topics except the last. Rusk stressed that Berlin seemed to be the main issue for the Soviet Union, which seemed “to greatly fear a unified and rebuilt Germany which would be an ally of the West.” (Memorandum of conversation, June 5, 1961; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, France)

In his briefing of the North Atlantic Council Rusk again stressed the importance of the Berlin question and reported that the Soviet aide-mémoire gave a good picture of Khrushchev's views on the problem. (Polto Circular 7 from Paris, June 5; Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/6-561)

On June 5 Kohler, Hillenbrand, and Dowling briefed Chancellor Adenauer on the meetings at Paris and Vienna. On Berlin Kohler reported that the President had replied strongly to Khrushchev's reiterated determination to go ahead with a peace treaty. He stressed that the President had reaffirmed the vital importance of Berlin to the United States, and concluded that if anything might be drawn from the talks, it was the likelihood of a crisis developing over Berlin, probably after the Communist Party Congress in October. (Memorandum of conversation, June 5; ibid., 611.51/6-561) A summary of the conversation was transmitted in telegram 2027 from Bonn, June 5. (Ibid., 611.62A/6-561)

On June 6 President Kennedy invited 15 congressional leaders to the White House for a report on his trip to Europe. A memorandum of the conversation at this meeting is in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings with the President. It is also published in part in Declassified Documents, 1986, 2256. At 7 p.m. on the same day the President addressed the American people on his trip, stating that the visit to Vienna had been “a very sober two days.” For text of his address, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pages 441-446.