161. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Luncheon Conversation with Ambassador Corneliu Bogdan of the Romanian Embassy

I had lunch today with Ambassador Bogdan and Romanian DCM Iosif Gheorghiu, at Bogdan’s invitation.

I said we were sorry to hear of Birladeanu’s illness and mentioned that I thought Dr. Hornig was proposing June 19 as a substitute date for the start of the visit. Bogdan was interested, and pleased about the visit.

Bogdan described his recent trip to the West Coast. He had visited Seattle (the University of Washington), Portland, the San Francisco area (including the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Berkeley, San Francisco State and Claremont as the guest of Fred Warner Neal), and Los Angeles (the Universal Studios, Disneyland, the Mayor’s office, etc.). Apparently Bogdan had made a number of speeches, had rather little sleep, and enjoyed the experience.

Bogdan said he had come back to Washington, only to turn around to visit the Goodyear people in Akron. He believes Goodyear has the best synthetic rubber process in the world, and is most interested in getting them to pick up the old Firestone project. Apparently the Goodyear people told Bogdan that synthetic rubber remains more expensive than natural rubber. They wonder why Romania really wants to put up such a plant. Bogdan indicated that foreign exchange was a consideration—as well as a certain desire for self-sufficiency (assuming one has the raw [Page 445] materials, which Romania does). Bogdan went on to acknowledge that Romania could hardly strive for autarky, but nevertheless had an interest in standing on its own two feet.

Bogdan said the Goodyear people expressed some interest in a plant in Romania on the grounds that Romania’s cheap natural resources might enable the plant to become competitive with natural rubber in Western Europe. Apparently there is some problem with the fact that Goodyear normally retains a controlling ownership interest in its plants constructed abroad. Concluding his discussion of the Goodyear visit, Bogdan expressed the strong hope that the U.S. would help convince the Goodyear management that it was worthwhile to send a representative to Romania to examine the prospects seriously.

I asked Bogdan whether Romania was experiencing any licensing problems. He said none that he knew of except the question of the heavy water plant. I told Bogdan I knew that question was under active consideration. Answering a question of mine, Bogdan said the Romanians hope to buy the reactor itself from General Electric in Canada—adding that he presumed that firm had “some connection” with General Electric in the U.S. He said that—apart from the question whether the U.S. would be willing to sell a reactor—there was a foreign exchange advantage in making the reactor purchase in Canada rather than in the U.S.

I asked Bogdan if the rubber and heavy water plants represented their high priority interests. He said there was a third—their desire to purchase a plant to make integrated circuits. Apparently they would like to buy it from IBM.

The conversation turned to politics, and I asked Bogdan how he viewed the situation in New York. He said he had just been in New York talking with Foreign Minister Manescu. Bogdan’s pitch was that the U.S. and USSR should accept at least a few amendments to the NPT in order to make the General Assembly debate a serious and responsible one, and not simply a rubber stamp. Bogdan was aware of the recent Mexican proposals and seemed quite interested in them. He also raised the question of Security Assurances, commenting that he realized the U.S and the USSR would have to stand together on any issue in the Security Council if the assurances were to have any meaning. I remarked that the question of security commitments was a very touchy one in the Congress.

Bogdan acknowledged the danger of the NPT coming unraveled, but said we ought to be able to find a way to make some concessions to the desire of many nations to improve the treaty—without opening Pandora’s Box. He expressed the view that everybody was now resigned to India not signing—although she might adhere at a later time. When he asked me if I agreed, I said I thought we still hoped that India would find it possible to sign. Bogdan repeated several times that Romania had no desire to obstruct proceedings—but hoped that at least a few changes [Page 446] could be made. When I asked him how long he thought the session in New York would last, he said “two to three more weeks.”

When I asked Bogdan what he thought about events in Czechoslovakia he answered: “That’s the $64.00 question.” He deprecated the importance of Soviet military moves, and said he was an optimist about the situation remaining under control. He said he had no information on the Moscow five-nation Summit. We briefly discussed the differences between the present situation in Czechoslovakia and Hungary in 1956—including the fact that Hungary had left the Warsaw Pact and had formed a government with a non-Communist majority. Bogdan’s reaction was to recall that the Hungarians in 1956 had also set up placards on the Romanian border demanding the return of Transylvania.

Nathaniel Davis 2
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 17–8 ROM. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Davis.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.