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Letter in Reply to a Proposal for a Meeting of the President and Chairman Khrushchev.

October 02, 1960

Dear :

I have received your letter of September 29, informing me of your intention to submit to the current session of the General Assembly a resolution calling for a meeting between the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and myself. I assure you again that I share the concern expressed in this communication over the present state of international relations, and I understand and sympathize with the motives which led you to propose this step.

As President of the United States I have sought on every occasion to explore to the full any possibility for the resolution of outstanding international questions by negotiation.

Following the refusal last May of the Soviet government to participate in the long awaited Summit Conference which was to deal with certain of these questions, especially disarmament and problems arising out of the war, the President of France, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and I issued a declaration which stated: "They remain unshaken in their conviction that all outstanding international questions should not be settled by threat or the use of force but by peaceful means through negotiation. They themselves remain ready to take part in such negotiations at any suitable time in the future."

Speaking for the United States this statement still holds good.

I have at no time utilized any threats whatsoever with reference to any international question. This is, I am sure you will agree, a matter of historical record.

On the other hand, the Soviet Union far from following a comparable policy of restraint appears to have undertaken with deliberate intent a policy of increasing tension throughout the world and in particular of damaging relations with the United States.

Instead of avoiding threats of the use of force, the Soviet Government has threatened rocket retaliation against many members of the United Nations including the United States on the pretext of contrived and imaginary intentions on the part of these countries. While these threats have necessarily only strengthened our resolve to maintain our readiness to deter and, if necessary, to resist any aggression, they have nevertheless caused uneasiness throughout the world.

The Soviet Government has refused any thought of an impartial international body to investigate the shooting down on July 1 of an aircraft of the United States Air force, and is still holding incommunicado two members of its crew.

The Soviets have unilaterally disrupted the ten-nation disarmament talks in Geneva with full knowledge that the Western Powers there represented were about to submit new proposals which took into account those made earlier by the Soviet Union.

I believe that a comparison of the international behavior of the participants of the Paris Meeting since its collapse demonstrates where the responsibility lies for the increase of international tension and the failure to make any progress in the solution of outstanding problems.

I reiterate what I said in my speech before the General Assembly on September 22: The United States is always ready to undertake serious negotiations with the Soviet Union and other interested countries on any unresolved international question, and especially in the field of disarmament. I also pointed out that there are needs for great constructive action, for which I have made proposals to the General Assembly, that are primary in their importance to the peace and progress of major areas of the world. However, the chief problems in the world today are not due to differences between the Soviet Union and the United States alone, and therefore are not possible of solution on a bilateral basis.

The questions which are disrupting the world at the present time are of immediate and vital concern to other nations as well. The importance of these matters is such as to go beyond personal or official relations between any two individuals to impede their solution, and I have many times personally pledged myself, regardless of every kind of personal consideration, to meet with anyone at anytime if there is any serious promise of productive results. There is nothing in the words or actions of the government of the Soviet Union which gives me any reason to believe that the meeting you suggest would hold any such promise. I would not wish to participate in a mere gesture which, in present circumstances, might convey a thoroughly misleading and unfortunate impression to the peoples of the world.

If the Soviet Union seriously desires a reduction in tensions it can readily pave the way for useful negotiations by actions in the United Nations and elsewhere. If Soviet representatives should wish to discuss concrete measures to reduce tensions my representatives, including the Secretary of State, are always available for this purpose. Should such exploratory discussions reveal that the Soviet Union is prepared to return to the path of peaceful negotiation with some prospect of fruitful results then I personally would be prepared to meet and negotiate with the representative of the Soviet Government and with the heads of other governments as their interests were involved.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to President Nkrumah of Ghana, President Sukarno of Indonesia, President Nasser of the United Arab Republic, President Tito of Yugoslavia, and Prime Minister Nehru of India.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter in Reply to a Proposal for a Meeting of the President and Chairman Khrushchev. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235440

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