54. Memorandum of Telephone Conversations Between Secretary of State Rusk and the President’s Special Counsel (Sorensen)1


10:20 a.m.

The Sec. said we had some real problems.2 Most of them were not of substance but on procedures, timing and delays in connection with the Four Powers. One real possibility would be to use the substance of the summary statement, revising it somewhat, as a covering press release when the aide-mémoire is made public. This would give the information people something to work on and would draw it all to a more concise point. The aide-mémoire could be shortened without too much difficulty, leaving the aide-mémoire as a document with more traditional aide-mémoire language and leaving the changes suggested by the other governments. The summary statement could be taken care of. The Secretary said in view of all this we were in for a delay. Sorensen wanted to know how long a delay was involved, and asked how serious it would be. The Secretary said it would be another week or ten days before it could be ironed out with the other governments. The Secretary said that the morning press had indicated a restlessness that no action [Page 166] was forthcoming. The Secretary said on the court proposal we had hammered that pretty hard with our allies. Sorensen said the President had indicated this and that the French had objected. The President thought we should try again. The Sec. said that the British had made the strongest point. This was a question of timing. Rather than make the proposal now by throwing out a card, it might be better to do it at a later stage when we might need it. The court question had been discussed at NSC. The Sec. said if this was the only proposal this would perhaps be interpreted as a sign of weakness because it wasn’t much of a proposal. The Sec. asked when the Pres. was returning to Washington and Sorensen said around ten thirty tomorrow morning. The Sec. suggested that Sorensen see the President and give him his reaction (1) we ought to try to deal with the summary statement as a covering press release for the aide-mémoire. We would take certain material in the summary statement and put it back into the aide-mémoire, particularly the last portion. Sorensen asked if it would be left in both the summary statement and the aide-mémoire and the Secretary said yes. The Sec. said to tell the Pres. that on the court proposal we could of course talk about it with the other three but we had hit them hard on it. We were a minority of one. The British reasons were on the other side and the French—de Gaulle—don’t want anything to do with this sort of machinery these days. The Sec. suggested the Pres. ring him and he could then get our people to work and have something for the Pres. when he got back tomorrow. Sorensen said if the Sec. did not hear, he was to go ahead on the basis discussed. The Sec. said he had a Four Power working party working on this draft without final commitments of their govts. Sec. said it wasn’t quite as easy to start over quite as drastically as this. There was no real problem between Washington and Hyannis Port on the substance of policies involved. Sorensen said he thought the only substantive problem involved was the emphasis on German reunification. The Sec. said he and the Pres. had talked about some changes the day before3 which were not taken into account in the redraft. The Sec. said if we make the changes and handle the summary press release properly we would be able to accomplish the point the Pres. had in mind.

10:45 a.m.

The Secretary tel. Sorensen back that as he was looking at the summary statement in terms of a press release a real alternative which appealed to him at the moment was that the press release would consist of a covering statement by the President. It would not be an ordinary press release but a covering statement released at the same time. Sorensen said this was what he had thought the Sec. meant.

  1. Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations. No classification marking. Secretary Rusk was in Washington.
  2. President Kennedy had taken the June 30 draft U.S. reply with him to Hyannis Port for the July 4 holiday. According to Sorensen Kennedy was disappointed with the draft and asked him to prepare a shorter version. (Sorensen, Kennedy , p. 587) On July 3 Sorensen sent the President and Rusk copies of the shorter draft together with a statement of the U.S. position which the President might use as an introduction. (Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, Germany) The conversation recorded here deals with these two documents.
  3. No further record of this conversation has been found.