165. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy1


  • Things you may want to know for your meeting with the Secretary of State this afternoon2
The Secretary is encouraged by his last Gromyko conversation, which makes it clear that the Soviet Union is willing to settle the access problem by new guarantees if appropriate additional arrangements can be made on the following four points:
Recognition of German border (both national and zonal), together with some undefined barriers to revanchists and militarists;
Respect for the sovereignty of the GDR;
Prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons in Europe; and
An agreed status of a free city of West Berlin.
The Secretary has now asked his staff to prepare recommendations for a substantive U.S. policy line on these matters. So I think we can now say that a real and urgent effort is being made to reach a U.S. negotiating position.
The only trouble with the discussions so far is that they appear to imply significant U.S. concessions in return for nothing more than a reassertion of rights that in our view are not open to discussion or concession. Unless something more is put into the record before these conversations close, I think we are on a dangerous slope of appeasement, and I am certain that this will be the view of the Germans, the Frenchmen and the Republicans. Thus I think it urgent that you should ask the Secretary what we can say to Gromyko before he goes back to Moscow which will indicate that in any serious negotiation we should have to make gains of our own. The following are possible proposals:
That our access rights should be improved by careful and detailed description of all of them in papers subscribed and guaranteed by all concerned.
That international supervision of some appropriate sort be arranged, to make clear that these agreements do not depend upon any supposed sovereign consent of the GDR.

That some one route of access, preferably the Autobahn, be fully internationalized and placed under the immediate control of some other body than the GDR. There is an interesting proposal to this effect from Berlin which might well be the subject of further study.

In short, if we do not get strengthened access or some other important advantage from possible negotiations, I think we will be exactly in the danger that the Secretary of State has suggested: namely, that we may be buying the same horse twice.

There are other important tactical questions about negotiations, but this is, I think, the most urgent one and the one on which it is most important that you and the Secretary should reach a common view.
Nothing in this note should be construed as criticism of the Rusk-Gromyko negotiations so far. It has been a virtuoso performance on both sides, and the Secretary deserves all sorts of praise for what he has accomplished.
McG. B.3
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies, State Department. Secret.
  2. According to the President’s Log Book and Rusk’s Appointment Book, Kennedy, Rusk, and Bundy met for an hour at 5:30 p.m. on October 2. No other record of this meeting has been found.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.