24. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Ambassador at Large (Thompson)1


  • Suggestions for Pen Pal

The President made the following comments on the pen pal which you may wish to bear in mind in preparing an answer.2

He believes that Khrushchev may well be suspicious of the RB–66 flight and is quite willing to respect this doubt as honest and to give it an honest answer, as full and complete as possible.
He would like to prove his own good faith by handing Dobrynin exact copies of the orders which he caused to be sent out by the JCS after the RB–66 episode.
He would like to be quite firm in arguing that such an errant plane need not be shot down. It could be wig-wagged and signaled and warned in a variety of ways without such a hasty reaction, and the President thinks we might wish to wonder whether Khrushchev’s own military people are not letting their own itchy fingers make trouble for him.
The President wishes to be quite firm that on the matter of the Berlin convoy arguments either Khrushchev is fooling us or his people are fooling him, since there was indeed a clear-cut Soviet effort to change procedure.
The President wishes to take the occasion to review with Dobrynin the position on the nuclear production cutback and to explain that he is getting to the point where he will wish to announce the new American decisions, probably on April 20.
The President asks if you think it would be wise to use this occasion to wish Khrushchev a happy birthday, and to give the Ambassador an appropriate message in this talk, too.
McG. B.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 77 D 163. Secret.
  2. An answer to Khrushchev’s April 2 letter; Document 21.