90. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization 1

231337. 1. Following is substance of Secretary’s conversation with Soviet Amb. Dobrynin at which latter gave “oral statement” transmitted State 231323.2

2. For Action Addressees you may provide senior local official with text of oral statement and substance this message orally.

Begin report. Secretary noted that Ambassador had asked to see him August 31 and inquired whether or not he could take up now the matter for which he had asked for an appointment.

Ambassador looked somewhat surprised but said that he had been instructed to make an oral communication. He said he had been instructed to see either the President or the Secretary.

When the Ambassador had finished his oral statement, the Secretary reminded him that at their last meeting he had referred to disturbing reports in regard to Romania.3

The Ambassador said he had reported his conversation but had received no reply.

The Secretary said that we continue to get reports that were disturbing and that in the last 24 hours we had received a number of reports of troop movements, incidents on the frontier, etc. He asked whether the Ambassador had any basis on which he could give him assurances that action against Romania was not intended.

Dobrynin said he had no official information but that he personally doubted that any such action was contemplated.

The Secretary said that if such action were contemplated, he wished in the name of all humanity to ask that it not be done. The results of such action on world affairs would be incalculable.

Dobrynin inquired if the Romanians felt the same way.

The Secretary said we had no reports whatever from the Romanians. He wished, however, to underline the gravity of this problem. We were [Page 262] deeply concerned. Our attitude was based upon well-known principles that had motivated us throughout our history. Our attitude on Czechoslovakia was not related to our bilateral relations with that country which were not particularly good. We believed, however, that every country, large or small, had a right to national existence. We respect that among our NATO allies and we thought the Soviets should respect it among their Warsaw Pact allies. We cannot understand how the state interests of the Soviet Union were involved in any way that would justify military action. Czechoslovakia was not going to leave the Warsaw Pact or join NATO and no one was threatening them.

The Secretary said he wished again to underline the seriousness with which we took the Ambassador’s statement to the President on Aug. 20, and repeated today, that the Soviet Union did not intend in any way to threaten the state interests of the US. He wished to point out that among these interests was Berlin. Frankly, we did not trust Ulbricht. We wished to emphasize the gravity of any move with respect to Berlin in the current situation. He also wished to point out that the thoughts he had expressed carried the authority of the President with whom he had just talked by telephone.4 The Secretary said he would be available any time, day or night, if the Ambassador had anything to say to him.

Dobrynin asked if he could report that he had made his oral statement and that the Secretary would study it and comment later.

The Secretary agreed but said he could say now with respect to the reference in the statement to revanchist and imperialist threats to socialist countries that there was no such threat, no CIA plot, there was no intrusion into any of these countries in a manner hostile to the Soviet Union. We could not accept a statement that revanchists or imperialists were carrying out any threat to any of these countries.

End report.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–1 COMBLOC–CZECH. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Drafted by Leddy and Thompson and approved by Rusk. Also sent to London, Paris, Bonn, Rome, Brussels, The Hague, and Ottawa and repeated to USUN, Bucharest, Moscow, Prague, and Belgrade.
  2. Dated August 31. (Ibid.) The statement was a defense of Soviet conduct in invading Czechoslovakia. A copy is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Walt Rostow Files, Czech 1968. The text of the statement was transmitted to the President in Texas in telegram CAP 82309, August 30, 10:41 p.m. (Ibid., Rusk/Dobrynin) For a memorandum of this conversation, which was held at 9 p.m. on August 30, see Document 165.
  3. See Document 87.
  4. No record of this telephone conversation was found.
  5. Dobrynin and Rusk met again on August 31; see Document 167.