172. Editorial Note

On January 31 Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Tyler and Ambassador at Large Thompson each sent a memorandum to Secretary of State Rusk dealing with Berlin, in preparation for a meeting with the President on the following day. Tyler, who also addressed a nuclear test ban treaty and the sale of large-diameter pipe to the Soviet Union, recommended that the United States respond affirmatively to Gromyko’s initiative for continuing talks on Berlin and that the dialog should take place in Washington. Attached to Tyler’s memorandum, was a memorandum drafted by Hillenbrand on January 31, which expanded on the reasons for responding positively, noted that nothing more than “passive negativism” could be expected from the French, and concluded that the United States should inform the Washington Ambassadorial Group that it proposed to resume the talks with the Soviet Union. (Department of State, Central Files, 110.11–RU/1–3163)

Thompson’s memorandum dealt exclusively with Berlin and recommended that German Ambassador Knappstein be informed that the United States would, at the next Ambassadorial Group meeting, propose to continue bilateral U.S.-Soviet talks in an effort to find out what the Soviet Union had in mind concerning the presence of Allied forces in West Berlin. (Ibid., 762.00/1–3163)

The meeting with the President took place at 12:25 p.m. on February 2, but other than an entry in the President’s Appointment Book, which indicates that Kennedy, Rusk, Tyler, Kohler, and Thompson attended, no record of the meeting has been found. However, the participants apparently agreed to inform Knappstein along the lines suggested by Thompson, since, at a meeting in Tyler’s office on February 4, Kohler, Hillenbrand, and Tyler reviewed in detail Gromyko’s proposal and told [Page 482] the Ambassador that the United States intended to raise the subject of a positive response to the Soviet offer at the next Ambassadorial Group meeting. (Memorandum of conversation and telegram 1794 to Bonn, February 4; both ibid., POL 28 Berlin)