97. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Czechoslovakia; Missile Talks; McNamara’s Visit to Moscow


  • H.E. Dr. Karel Duda, Czechoslovak Ambassador
  • Mr. Malcolm Toon, Acting Assistant Secretary for European Affairs

I spoke briefly with Ambassador Duda at today’s luncheon for Nat Davis, hosted by the Yugoslav Ambassador.

[Page 285]

I asked the Ambassador what his views were on the current situation in Czechoslovakia. He said he was not yet pessimistic. He felt that the recent student demonstrations2 were unfortunate because they had given rise to additional pressures on the Dubcek government to bring the populace into line. He hoped that such incidents would not recur since they could only cause serious problems for Dubcek and the survival of what he stands for.

The Ambassador said that he hoped “the events of last summer” would not prove to be an obstacle in the process of diminishing tension between Washington and Moscow, which had been in train before the invasion. I told the Ambassador that certainly the Soviet behavior in Czechoslovakia had had an adverse effect on our relations with Moscow and, among other things, had delayed progress in working out agreements in areas of mutual interest.

The Ambassador wondered if we contemplated an early start to the missile talks since he felt it was not in either our interest or the interest of the Czechoslovak people to delay them further because of our reaction to the events of last summer. I told the Ambassador that we did indeed consider the missile talks to be in our interest as well as in the interest of world peace and security and we would move on the talks at an appropriate time. We did not feel that the time was yet propitious.

The Ambassador asked me about Mr. McNamara’s visit to Moscow, and particularly about his conversation with Mr. Kosygin.3 I briefed the Ambassador on the background of the visit, stressing that Mr. McNamara had stopped in Moscow for purely sightseeing purposes en route to Kabul on World Bank business. After his arrival, the Soviet Foreign Office had informed our Embassy that Mr. Kosygin would be prepared to see Mr. McNamara and, of course, Mr. McNamara readily agreed. There had been no pre-arrangement between ourselves and the Soviets for this appointment; it was completely at Soviet initiative. In response to the Ambassador’s query, I confirmed that the subject of missile talks had been raised in the discussion.

Ambassador Duda asked if Czechoslovakia had been mentioned, and I said that my recollection was that the subject of Czechoslovakia had not come up at all.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–1 COMBLOC–CZECH. Confidential. Drafted by Toon.
  2. Apparent reference to anti-Soviet demonstrations by students on October 28 and November 7 and a 3-day strike of students in early November.
  3. A memorandum of McNamara’s conversation with Kosygin is scheduled for publication in volume XIV.