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At lunch with Kuznetsov today we discussed Cuba and he was very pleased that we would accept Red Cross inspection of the incoming ships. He assured me emphatically that the weapons would be dismantled and removed and that we could count on it, and then have whatever verification at the end of the process we wanted. He found it hard to believe that we would doubt their word in present circumstances, when I explained that surveillance during the interval to confirm compliance was necessary. Then he asked if we could not fly our high-level reconnaissance planes along the coast outside Cuban territorial waters and get good enough pictures. I said I doubted if that would be adequate, and suggested that reconnaissance planes could be transferred to the UN, painted and marked appropriately, and manned by neutrals if available, or even by combined Russian, Cuban and American crews. He was noncommittal, but clearly worried about Cuban objections to over-flights, although they did not appear to bother him. He did, however, say something about compromise of Russian prestige by this evidence of our skepticism. As to time involved to complete dismantling and removal process, he said Khrushchev had told him before he left Moscow that it would probably take two or three weeks.
He seemed to be especially eager to discuss disarmament and other bases and to explore any other possibilities for talks on broader basis. He plans to stay here as long as he can do anything, see people, and talk usefully about our mutual problems. He asked why he and I should not discuss the whole range of problems and added that as peoples we get along very much better than on official level, and that just now relations were badly strained.
On disarmament, he interrogated me closely in reply to suggestion about some bilateral talks on testing here in New York. He feels our positions are now so close that we should be able to reach agreement. In response to my suggestion that agreement on above-ground testing could now be reached quickly, he pressed me on why we insisted on underground inspection and why we seemed to want to make more underground tests when we had made far more tests than they, to our great advantage. Moreover, he felt confident that our scientists could really detect and identify everything. After the usual explanations that all underground tests could not be identified and that there were means to prevent any real danger of espionage, he was noncommittal and proposed a toast to disarmament and that we should talk some more.
He adverted several times to removal of our bases which threaten the Soviet Union as they had removed their base in Cuba which threatened the US.
Mtg was extremely cordial, and we also talked about previous mtgs and my writings on the Soviet Union with which he was familiar. He discussed with great candor the agricultural problem and the slow development of the virgin lands project, where they are consolidating and mechanizing and not increasing acreage. He brought me friendly messages from Khrushchev and Mikoyan.
Arthur Dean is seeing him this afternoon with regard to the disarmament negotiation.
Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.3722/10-3062. Secret; Priority. Received in the Department of State at 6:49 p.m.