155. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • USUSSR Bilateral Problems

PARTICIPANTS

  • The Secretary
  • Llewellyn E. Thompson, Ambassador-at-Large, Department of State
  • Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, USSR

At a luncheon that the Secretary gave for Ambassador Dobrynin today, the Ambassador raised the status of bilateral problems between our two countries. The Secretary said that the Ambassador would have observed the statements that had been made by Mansfield and others on the Consular Agreement. This was simply the result of a nose count. When Dobrynin asked about the Air Agreement, the Secretary observed that this did not require action by the Senate and was still under consideration.

On the subject of the negotiations for a Cultural Exchange Agreement, the Secretary assured the Ambassador that the last-minute difficulties had not been the result of any deception on the part of our negotiators. [Page 382]He hoped that we would be able to give the Ambassador very shortly our views on what would be required to complete the Agreement. He pointed out that we have some rather special problems in this country because in our case it is not simply the Government that is involved, but the people we have to contract with to carry out some phases of the Agreement.

In the course of the conversation, the Secretary referred to a subject which he had previously mentioned to the Ambassador, and that was the matter of personal attacks upon the President. He explained that the President took very seriously the role which he and the Soviet leaders had to play as Heads of the two most powerful countries in the world. The Secretary observed that there appeared to have been some improvement in respect to personal attacks since his last talk with the Ambassador on this subject, for which he expressed his appreciation.

Ambassador Dobrynin vigorously argued that no Soviet leaders had, to the best of his knowledge, attacked the President personally. He said, of course they did express themselves strongly on matters of policy and such things as they considered to be American imperialism, but he said he had carefully studied the Soviet press and he knew of no single incident of a personal attack upon the President by the leaders of the Soviet Government. He spelled out the difference between a “Tass statement,” which was a rather official declaration and the publication by Tass of despatches from their correspondents. The Soviet press did report on matters relating to the President, usually by quotations from the American press, but he repeated that he knew of no attacks by the Soviet leaders themselves.

The Secretary said he would check into this matter.

The Secretary referred to the problem of a location for a new Soviet Embassy in Washington and said that we would do all we could to help. When Dobrynin asked about the possibility of their getting Tregaron, the Secretary said he had to state frankly that the prospects of obtaining a decision to rezone the area which would make this possible did not seem very bright. Upon further questioning from Dobrynin, he said we would be glad to look further into the question as to whether or not we could make any Federal property available.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL USUSSR. Confidential. Drafted and initialed by Thompson and approved in S/AL on March 19. In addition to U.S.-USSR bilateral relations the participants also discussed Soviet defectors (see Document 156), limitations on missiles, nuclear free zones, the peaceful uses of atomic energy, the Tri-Continent conference held in Havana, Communist China, the CPSU Congress, and Indochina. Memoranda of these parts of the conversation are in the Department of State, S/S-I Files: Lot 73 D 154, S/AL Memcons. The memorandum of the conversation on the peaceful uses of atomic energy is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XI, Document 123.