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

July 02, 1958

[ Released July 9, 1958. Dated July 1, 1958 ]

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I was frankly surprised by your letter of June 1 I. You complain about delay in preparations for a Summit meeting precisely at the moment when the Western powers have submitted a proposal for a serious and effective procedure for conducting these preparations. This refutes the allegation contained in your letter that the three Western powers are creating obstacles and impeding progress toward a Summit meeting.

The position of the Western powers concerning holding of a meeting of Heads of Government has been clear from the outset. They consider such a meeting desirable if it would provide an opportunity for conducting serious discussions of major problems and would be an effective means of reaching agreement on significant subjects. from the known positions of the Soviet Government, there is no evidence so far that such is the case. That is why the Western powers insist on adequate preparatory work and why they have put forward their proposal to facilitate satisfactory completion of this work.

The Soviet Government instead has disrupted the discussions in Moscow by taking upon itself to publish with bare hours of warning and no attempt at consultation the documents exchanged between it and the Western powers, including diplomatic documents originating from the Western powers. This action is scarcely consonant with the spirit of serious preparation in which the Western powers entered into these diplomatic exchanges. It cannot but cast doubt on the intentions of the Soviet Government concerning the proper preparations for a Summit meeting.

Following receipt of the Soviet agenda proposals on May 5 the three Ambassadors in interviews on May 28, 31 and June 2 presented in return Western agenda proposals. They also outlined to Mr. Gromyko a suggested procedure for overcoming the difficulty caused by the fact that the two sets of proposals were widely divergent. The Western Ambassadors are quite ready to offer comments on the Soviet agenda proposals and to clarify certain points in their own proposals on which the Soviet Government seems to have misconceptions. But the Western Governments cannot agree that the discussions between their Ambassadors and Mr. Gromyko should be based exclusively on the Soviet list any more than they would expect the Soviet Government to agree to base the discussions solely on the Western list. Since the topics in both lists fall under certain general headings, the Western proposal was that preparatory discussion of the individual topics put forward by the two sides should take place within the framework of these general headings. Had this been accepted by the Soviet Government, the Soviet foreign Minister and the Ambassadors could have proceeded to examine the positions of the various governments on the topics in both lists and establish what subjects should be submitted for examination by the Heads of Government. Neither side would, during the preparatory stage, have been able to veto the inclusion of any topic for discussion and an opportunity would have been afforded to find some common ground, for later consideration by Heads of Government.

Mr. Gromyko promised an official reply to the above proposal. Instead, however, the Soviet Government has now addressed communications to the Heads of Government of the three Western powers, in the form of your letters of June 11, which repeat the arguments in favor of the Soviet set of proposals of May 5 and criticize some of the Western proposals which it happens not to like. The procedural proposal put forward by the Ambassadors has been ignored altogether.

You allege in your letters that the Western powers by including, as possible subjects of discussion at a meeting of Heads of Government, some of the great political issues that create grave tension are trying to prevent the holding of a Summit meeting. There is no warrant for this allegation. A meeting of Heads of Government would not respond to the hopes and aspirations of mankind if they met under an injunction that seals their lips so that they could not even mention the great political issues that gravely trouble their relations and endanger world peace.

In spite of the arbitrary action of the Soviet Government and its apparent unwillingness to negotiate seriously on concrete points at issue, the Western powers do not propose to abandon hope or to relax their efforts to seek solutions of the major outstanding problems. If the Soviet Government is equally serious in pursuing this goal, it will accept the procedural proposal put forward by the Western powers or advance some equally effective and workable alternative.



Note: Mr. Khrushchev's letter of June 11 and the Soviet and Western agenda proposals are published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 39, pp. 96 and 12-22).

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/233663

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