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

August 01, 1958

Dear Mr. Chairman

For several centuries personal correspondence between Heads of Government and Heads of State has been an extremely valuable channel of communication when the normal diplomatic channels seemed unable to carry the full burden. However, it has always been recognized--not just as a matter of diplomatic form but as a requirement of efficacy--that the essential ingredient in such correspondence, whether confidential or public, was a tone of serious purpose and an absence of invective. It is in this tradition that I reply to your letter of July 28.

I consider it quite inaccurate for you, both implicitly and explicitly, to convey the impression that the Government of the United States has embarked on a policy of delay based on niggling procedural argument. The fact is that the differences between us are not procedural but basic.

Very simply, the two basic points which the United States has stated many times in the past, and which I repeat now, are (a) do all of us, the Charter Members of the United Nations, agree that the United Nations Security Council has the principal responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security; and (b) shall small nations as well as a few so-called "great powers" have a part in the making of decisions which inevitably involve them?

As to my first point--What of the United Nations? It was created out of the travail of World War II to establish a world of order and of justice. It embodied and still embodies the hopes of mankind. At this juncture, when you claim peace is endangered, you would push it aside-we would invoke its processes.

This leads to my second point--What of the smaller powers of this world? Shall they be ignored or shall the small nations be represented in the making of decisions which inevitably involve them? History has certainly given us ample proof that a nation's capacity to contribute to the advancement of mankind is not to be measured by the number of divisions it can put in the field. You must be aware, as I am, of the many very specific proposals made these last years by the so-called smaller powers which have been of great value to all of us.

The stated assumption in your letter that the decisions of five great powers will be happily accepted by all other interested powers seems to indicate an attitude on your part which could have dangerous consequences in the future for the smaller powers of this world.

Your position, which means that the desires, the dignity, in fact the security, of the smaller nations should be disregarded, is one which the United States has consistently opposed and continues to oppose today. Essentially you are proposing that we should join you in a policy reminiscent of the system of political domination you imposed in Eastern Europe. The United States cannot accept that point of view.

The problem of the Middle East is not one of a threat of aggression by the United States but rather the threat, by others, of further indirect aggression against independent states. This problem is clearly the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council.

I am, therefore, instructing the United States Permanent Representative to the Security Council to seek a special meeting on or about August 12 of the Security Council under Article 28 (2), which would permit direct discussions among Heads of Governments and foreign Ministers. I would hope that you would similarly instruct your Permanent Representative. Such a meeting will make it possible for the Council to discharge its responsibilities in the manner contemplated by the Charter.

As for the place of the meeting, the United States agrees that the meeting might be held elsewhere than New York City but we could not agree to the meeting being held in Moscow. The memory of the well-organized mass demonstration and serious damage to the United States Embassy in Moscow is too fresh in the minds of the American people.

If such a meeting is arranged, I expect to attend and participate and I hope that you would do likewise.



Note: Mr. Khrushchev's letter of July 28 is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 39, P. 275).

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/233798

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