160. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Miscellaneous Intelligence

PARTICIPANTS

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

At lunch today, I asked Dobrynin of news of Mikoyan and Khrushchev. He said that Mikoyan had asked to be relieved from the Presidium because of health, as had Shvernik. He said, however, that Mikoyan was present on all ceremonial occasions. He said he had run into Mrs. Khrushchev briefly in the hospital and said that she was looking fine. He said that Mr. Khrushchev had had some kidney trouble but had recovered.

The Ambassador said he had had long talks with Brezhnev, Kosygin, and other leaders. He said he found the atmosphere much improved to what it had been under Mr. Khrushchev. He said he was able to express his views freely and frankly and was, in fact, encouraged to do so. He said his views were not always accepted, but there was no resentment at his expressing them. He said he had difficulty always in explaining statements such as that recently made by Mr. Acheson with [Page 393]respect to General de Gaulle 2 as the Soviet leaders could not understand that statements of this sort could be made without representing firm United States policy.

Dobrynin said he had attended the meetings of the Central Committee as a delegate. He said there were about ten Ambassadors who attended as delegates and a considerable number more who were there in the lower-ranking status of guests. He said that Fedorenko had attended as a guest and that it was not normal for a guest to be made a member of the Central Committee, but in this case, it had been decided that in view of the importance of the United Nations, Fedorenko should be made a member of the Auditing Commission.

I inquired whether his being a candidate member of the Central Committee meant that he got any more pay. He replied, “unfortunately not,” but it did mean that he had more access to information about what was going on. He said because of the distance here from Moscow, he would probably not get all of the papers but these would be available to him whenever he was in Moscow.

He said that most of the members of the Presidium had not spoken at the Congress since Brezhnev was speaking, and also Kosygin, for the collective leadership. He said, however, that each of the members of the Presidium presided over the meetings in turn.

When I referred to the seating arrangement of the Presidium at the meetings, he pointed out that this varied somewhat and said that several times that Voroshilov had sat in the wrong place, on one occasion sitting next to Brezhnev, although he clearly did not belong there.

Dobrynin asked me if we had any ideas about what was going on in China. I said that we were mystified but were of the opinion that something important was taking place. I said that the attacks on the intellectuals seemed to be quite widespread and might even suggest that there were rival factions at work. He said that the attacks on the Soviet Union appeared to be getting increasingly vicious. He probed a bit with the obvious purpose of trying to find out whether Ambassador Gronouski’s trip here meant that we were cooking something up with respect to Communist China. I said I was not aware of anything other than the usual repetitious go-rounds which we had with the Chinese in Warsaw.

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In the course of the conversation, he observed that he was not sure that the Communist Chinese really wanted to get into the United Nations and I replied that my own personal opinion was that they did not.

I mentioned that the Chinese were apparently sending vessels to repatriate some of their nationals from Indonesia. He merely observed that Chinese relations with Indonesia were very bad.

  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 May 19. Thompson and Dobrynin also discussed American prisoners in Vietnam, de Gaulle’s forthcoming visit to the Soviet Union, a new location for the Soviet Embassy, non-proliferation, a nuclear-free zone involving Israel and the Arab states, a visit of an oceanographic vessel to the Soviet Union, Rumania, and the visit of John D. Rockefeller, III, to the Soviet Union. Memoranda of these parts of the conversation are ibid., S/AL Files: Lot 67 D 2.
  2. Presumably a reference to comments made by Acheson at a Senate subcommittee hearing in April. As reported in The New York Times, April 28, 1966, p. 15, Acheson stated that recent French policy had not drawn a picture of France as a dependable ally, and if Gaullist policy were to continue for a decade he speculated there would be a general disintegration in Western Europe, making the Soviet Union the magnet on the continent.