268. Memorandum From President Kennedy to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • Berlin Negotiations
I have read Thompson’s reports of the second Gromyko-Thompson talk and I think it is time for a hard look at our next steps. I assume the Department will be preparing a third formal instruction, and clearing it with the British and Germans. But I think something more is needed.
Should we not pretty soon allow Thompson to open up the discussions a little more? There is a good deal in our own position that cannot [Page 760] be communicated if the British and Germans have to clear it first. We might ask Thompson what he would suggest as the tactics of such a two-way talk—and perhaps we ought to consider also whether Thompson himself is the right channel.
I also think we need to decide what to do if the next formal Gromyko-Thompson talks get nowhere. Should we move to more formal talks, or keep trying in this channel? I begin to think we may be having the disadvantages of both types of talks at present: we are unable to talk frankly to the Russians, and yet we cannot really pull our Allies into a position of responsible participation.
John Kennedy
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1-1562. Secret; Eyes Only. Attached to the source text was a brief memorandum from Bundy to Rusk, also dated January 15, in which Bundy noted that the President’s memorandum had overtaken a longer memorandum along similar lines, which was attached for Rusk’s information.