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1604. Eyes only for the Secretary. McCloy, Stevenson and Akalovsky met with Mikoyan, Kuznetsov, Zorin, Dobrynin, Menshikov and Zhukov from 7 to 11 pm Thursday(1) night. Mikoyan started in aggressive mood, insisting on suspending quarantine now, saying that was U Thant's intention. We repeated that the agreement was embodied in the correspondence between Chairman Khrushchev and President Kennedy and left no uncertainty that the hail and pass quarantine could not be suspended until the Red Cross inspection was in effect. This seemed to bother Mikoyan considerably, but after some further discussion he dropped the matter. When asked how far away the nearest Soviet ships were, he replied four or five days. We pointed out that in that event, if Red Cross inspection was established quickly, few if any Soviet ships would have to pass the present quarantine. He said Thant had agreed with him that the US should suspend quarantine during the interval.
Mikoyan then asked if we were working now to formalize the agreement between us. We replied there were only three questions: Red Cross inspection, inspection and verification of removal of weapons, and the guarantee to Cuba; and saw only one difficulty in reaching an agreement, namely Castro's rejection of verification. Mikoyan made long speech insisting on linking Castro's five points with Soviet-US agreement and charged US with drawing attention to only "temporary" questions while overlooking "cardinal" questions. He said we obviously did not want to hear about interests of others and were only concerned with our own interests. He went on to suggest certain reports should be made to United Nations and that a formal document or protocol should be executed, and that he wanted negotiations to commence formally on basis of the letters, including Castro's five points,(2) between the US, Soviet and U Thant. Later he asked if Cuba should not be included in the discussions, repeating again and again that we must discuss Guantanamo and the other points relating to normalizing the situation in the Caribbean with UN presences in Cuba, in the US and in other parts of the area, to see that agreement adhered to. Castro, he said, was Prime Minister of independent state and we can't evade assurances of non-aggression against Cuba, that we were withdrawing from our commitments and must discuss everything, that they must know the US position in order to tell Castro.
We repeated over and over that we must stick to this problem and this problem only and could consider no other questions. We added that Castro could raise any questions he pleased and that they would be dealt with at the right time and that we were concerned with one question only and that was between the US and Soviet Union. He went back again and again to his insistence that we were by-passing the other side, including lifting the blockade and normalizing the situation, that the whole understanding would have to be formalized in documents registered with the United Nations and approved by the Security Council, and that we can't disregard the demands of Castro. Following our insistence that we can negotiate only one problem and that any discussion of Guantanamo in connection with it was out of the question, he remarked that the Soviet Union had never raised Guantanamo, which was a Cuba-US problem, but that the US should discuss the other four points.
We explained to him that we needed no documents except the declarations of USSR, US and SYG before Security Council after transaction completed. For that purpose Cuba was not a necessary party, especially if it refused any United Nations inspection as Khrushchev had promised.
We then turned to other forms of inspection and verification, by air recon and tables of organization, and suggested he could argue with Castro that a UN presence would be an assurance to Castro against invasion in interim as well as an assurance to US. Mikoyan was at pains to say that this meeting was not a final negotiation, but merely an exploration to see what everyone had in mind. We said that we felt time was of the essence and that we could agree upon modalities of the Red Cross inspection directly or through our deputies almost at once, on basis of Thant's proposals. We added that we could see no necessity for documentary agreement on aerial inspection, but wanted assurances from him that our planes would not be fired on if that was the only form of inspection and verification available to us. They replied they could not guarantee that the guns would not shoot, because Cuba was an independent country over which they had no control, and adverted again to fact that we should consider everything, but that at least this talk had served to expose our differences. (Later in a summary we had feeling we were really very close together and that if Mikoyan would drop his effort to link Castro's five points our differences were few.)
When we tried to get down to details of the Red Cross and aerial inspection Mikoyan said he was not specialist and these were details, that he had brought a General and Colonel to help Kuznetsov, repeating again and again that he could give us no guarantee regarding the security of our over-flights. We reminded him Khrushchev had agreed to UN inspection and that we understood his difficulties if Cuba refused, in view of its independence, and were trying reach accommodation for quick and satisfactory results. He reverted again to argument that if we insisted on UN inspection in Cuba, it had a right to insist on inspection of refugee camps and training activities anywhere. He was assured that there were no such camps any longer and that US was not engaged in such activities. Likewise we tried reassure him about training of Cuban citizens in the army and that US wanted to regularize relations in Caribbean for protection of others as well as Castro, but that this was a separate matter that had nothing to do with this question. Mikoyan quickly asked if we were referring to possible restoration economic and diplomatic ties with Cuba, and we explained regional arrangements in this hemisphere through OAS and that such matters were not excluded from future consideration if other aggravations could be relieved, but that we must get the one question before us promptly resolved.
FYI. With regard to SAM sites, we had clear impression they intended to leave them in Cuba, and they also said they had given these guns to a number of other countries, including Indonesia and UAR.
Meeting became more cordial and friendly as it proceeded and was exclusively dominated by Mikoyan. He said he did not know whether he was coming back through New York on way home, but we had impression he intended to.
Their estimate of time to complete removal was ten to fifteen days, including the IL-28's.
At one point he repeated Khrushchev's statement that what we call offensive weapons had been given to Cuba to deter US aggression, but that if non-aggression was guaranteed they would be withdrawn and that they would ship no more weapons.
In summarizing our conclusions, we reviewed the procedure before the Security Council and they suggested we exchange drafts of declarations, which seemed to us to indicate acceptance of this procedure. On the whole our feeling was that we had left no doubt the five points and weapons transaction could not be linked and that he will meet Castro with a clear impression of our position, and understand we will insist on interim inspection by our means if an agreement for UN presence cannot be reached. It is our intention to proceed as promptly as possible with Kuznetsov and his deputy Morozov to try complete modalities on Red Cross inspection pending Mikoyan's return.(3)
2 Castro's five points were made in a letter to U Thant, October 28. Castro stated that U.S. guarantees against an invasion would be ineffective without: 1) cessation of the economic blockade and commercial and economic pressure against Cuba; 2) cessation of subversive activities; 3) cessation of piratical attacks from U.S. and Puerto Rican bases; 4) cessation of violations of Cuban air space and territorial waters; and 5) U.S. withdrawal from the naval base at Guantanamo and its return to Cuba. The text of the letter is in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, pp. 447-448. Back
3 The morning of November 2 Stevenson sent Mikoyan a letter stating that during last evening's conversation he and McCloy had neglected to discuss with Mikoyan a list of items that the United States considered offensive weapons. See the Supplement. (Telegram 1606 from USUN, November 2; USUN Files: NY FRC 84-84-001, Outgoing Telegrams, 1953-1963) Back
Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.3722/11-262. Top Secret; Priority. Received at the Department of State at 1:52 a.m. A 21-page memorandum of conversation of this meeting, which took place at the Soviet Mission, is in USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-001, IA October/November Meetings.