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Bundy--We have now written, and everybody but you have signed off on it, and I hope you won't object, a message to the Chairman(1) telling him it's your fault and not ours on the basic ground that they misled us--the thing that we think we ought to get back into his chest--. The word of the Soviet Government is what caused the trouble. David Cline [Klein] is arranging to send it out. Do you want to hear it?
Ball--I would like to hear it. I'll tell you about my conversation with Stevenson.(2)
Bundy--How did it go?
Bundy--Yes, mine is in the typewriter.
Ball--The situation with Stevenson is that he finally got Thant out of bed and Thant has agreed to send a message to K which he probably can't do tonight because of the communications but will do it first thing in the morning.
Bundy--Why don't we offer him some communications?
Ball--I think it is probably a matter of his composing it.
Bundy--Nothing is going to happen tonight.
Ball--He says that first thing in the morning he will send the message to K saying that he, pending some consideration of his proposal, he would hope that K will keep his ships away and prevent a confrontation because he thinks there is a chance the Americans are prepared to discuss the modalities of a negotiation.
Bundy--Does that pin us to anything?
Ball--I raised this with Stevenson and in the first place this is not a public thing, this is a private--
Bundy--It will be public soon enough.
Bundy--U Thant is on and we are not on on this?
Bundy--Stevenson may go down the drain.
Ball--He just gives his impression. I think it's worth a play.
Bundy--It's worth a try.
Ball--I asked Stevenson to try to get the thing from him in the morning and shoot it down to us as soon as he can. I think I would have put it up in tougher terms, but that's the way it went.
Bundy--Yes, I think the main thing is that Adlai should know what he has sent in the morning.
Ball--I asked him to get it from Thant first thing and let us know, and he said he would and I hope Thant doesn't give too much of an impression of our willingness, but in any event it's just Thant giving an impression.
Bundy--Bundy reads reply to K.
Ball--There is only one very minor point, but I think it might be a major one. That is we use these offensive weapons; actually, my understanding in the conversation with Gromyko, that Gromyko was explicit that they had no weapons that could reach the US.
Bundy--He didn't say it that way.
Ball--I got this from the Secretary.
Bundy--He didn't say it. At least it did not appear in any transcript we had.
Ball--This may have been given by Dobrynin.
Bundy--It is true that Dobrynin has said things. I think this language is more precise in the case than we can document to the Chairman.
Ball--Well, of course his answer will be that they are not offensive.
Bundy--Well, he never said that actually.
Ball--Well, except that this was the implication of what was said by--
Bundy--Then change it to "such as long range nuclear missiles."
Ball--Yes, I think we can do that. It takes it out of that dialectical argument as to what's offensive and what isn't.
Bundy--"Such weapons as long range nuclear missiles."
Bundy--That doesn't let us off the bombers. "Such weapons as (we don't want quite long range) nuclear missiles?"
Ball--I think that would be all right.
Bundy--"Of considerable range?" I don't know George; I have cleared it with everybody else; I think we had better leave it as it is. The point is clear enough.
Ball--Yes. We will deliver that tonight then.
Bundy--It'll be along. Klein is handling that.
Ball--The only thing that concerns me about the Stevenson thing is that he has probably given the impression to U Thant that we will go further than we will go. That's what worries me.
Bundy--I don't know how to advise you on that other than to say that we probably will not go further than we will go.
Ball--If it indicates a weakness in relation to K that will create another element of miscalculation.
Bundy--If he will hold off his ships, then the Americans are interested in the modalities?
Bundy--Has Stevenson showed him our answer?
Ball--No. That is reserved for tomorrow morning.
Bundy--It would seem to me that you should say to Adlai that nothing in, from the point of view of us in Washington, any message to K should be inconsistent with that message.
Ball--I think I will get hold of Adlai first thing in the morning and let him go over and talk to Thant.
Bundy--If Adlai knows early in the morning that he must not sign the US to anything that would make that letter impossible without checking back with us.
Ball--I think that's the way to leave it.
Source: Department of State, Ball Papers: Lot 74 D 272, Telcons--Cuba. No classification marking.