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Letter to Nikita Khrushchev, Chairman, Council of Ministers, U.S.S.R.

July 25, 1958

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I have studied your letter of July 23. I find in it apparent misunderstandings of the views expressed in my letter of July 22, which I would request you to read again more carefully.

I then said that if, despite the facts established in the recent meetings of the Security Council, your Government still desires to allege that the situation in Lebanon constitutes an imminent danger to peace in the Middle East, the proper forum for appropriate discussion is the United Nations Security Council. I am glad that you now recognize the responsibility of the United Nations and have withdrawn your original proposal which would have gravely undermined the prestige and authority of the United Nations.

My letter pointed out that the Charter of the United Nations authorizes members of government, and that of course includes Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers, to represent a member nation at the Security Council and that if such a meeting were generally desired, the United States would join in following that orderly procedure. It is, of course, not yet certain that such a meeting is in fact "generally desired," although that may prove to be the case.

You now make specific suggestions dealing with the composition of the Security Council and the conditions under which nations other than members of the Council may participate in discussions of the Council. My letter to you of July 22 urged that one of the advantages of proceedings in the Security Council is that there are established rules on these matters and it is accordingly not necessary to rely on improvising. I pointed out that when rules of this kind are sought to be improvised, there is raised a whole series of new problems, notably as to the participation and non-participation of various states. The United States will adhere, in these respects, to the Charter, which lays down the conditions under which nations which are not members of the Council may participate in the discussions of the Council.

As to the agenda, we agree that it should be limited to a discussion of the problems of the Middle East, including the causes of those problems. I would, however, be lacking in candor if I did not make clear that to put peace and security on a more stable basis in the Middle East requires far more than merely a consideration of Lebanon and Jordan. These situations are but isolated manifestations of far broader problems. In my opinion the instability of peace and security is in large measure due to the jeopardy in which small nations are placed. It would be the purpose of the United States to deal with the specific incidents you raise within that broad context. To do otherwise would be to be blind to the teaching of history.

You will recall, Mr. Chairman, that World War II was brought about by a series of acts of direct and indirect aggression against small nations. In March 1939 the then head of the Soviet Communist Party pointed out that the failure of non-aggressive nations, among which he named Britain and France, to check direct or indirect aggression against small countries meant "giving free rein to war and, consequently, transforming the war into a world war." That forecast unhappily proved true.

You will also recall the 1950 "Peace through Deeds" Resolution of the General Assembly which condemns the "fomenting of civil strife in the interest of a foreign power" as among "the gravest of all crimes."

It is my earnest hope that through the United Nations Security Council steps can be taken in regard to the Middle East which, by making peace more secure there, will help promote it elsewhere.

In conclusion, I suggest that the Permanent Representatives of the members of the United Nations Security Council in New York should exchange views, under arrangements made by the Secretary General, to ascertain that a meeting of the kind and under conditions I suggest is generally acceptable. If so they should also agree upon a date which would be generally satisfactory. The date of July 28 would be too early for us.

I am today authorizing our own Permanent Representative to act in this sense.



Note: Mr. Khrushchev's letter of July 23 is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 39, p. 134). The President's letter of July 22 appears as Item 177, above.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to Nikita Khrushchev, Chairman, Council of Ministers, U.S.S.R. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233776

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