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1642. Dept pass White House. Eyes only for Secretary. Cuba. Stevenson and McCloy had a three-and-a-half hour meeting with Kuznetsov, Zorin, and Mendelevich today. Following summary based on uncleared memcon.(1)
1. Stevenson and McCloy referred to Kuznetsov's conversation with McCloy yesterday,(2) in which former expressed misgivings re inclusion IL-28 aircraft in armaments subject to removal. Kuznetsov, frequently drawing upon prepared text, stated following:
A. Sov Govt displeased with Stevenson's Nov 2 letter to Mikoyan;(3)
B. Sovs surprised IL-28 aircraft regarded by US as offensive, because they basically obsolete in view their low ceiling and low speed. These aircraft, which 15 years old, belong to coastal defenses and cannot be used in combat over enemy territory;
C. US demands this respect can be regarded only as attempt delay solution of problem and continue tense relations between US and USSR;
D. USSR conducting present negotiations in good faith and wishes speedy agreement and normalization situation in Caribbean; if US also honest in its pledge re non-invasion, it should not be disturbed by exist-ence IL-28 aircraft in Cuban hands, since they defensive and subsidiary arms;
E. Cuba sovereign state and can determine itself its defensive needs; no offensive weapons exist in Cuba;
F. Negotiations should center on main problem at hand and raising additional questions can only complicate matters.
Stevenson and McCloy stressed question IL-28 aircraft not new, since President's October 22 statement, quarantine proclamation, as well as October 28 letter contained either specific or general reference to offensive weapons other than missiles. Pointed out jet bombers capable of carrying nuclear warheads could hardly be qualified as obsolete. Noted such armaments in hands of man like Castro could create gravest situation, and LA countries deeply concerned by this. Denied Kuznetsov's insinuation US seeking obstruct negotiations by raising this very important question. After prolonged exchange, in course of which Stevenson and McCloy continued press for removal IL-28 aircraft and Kuznetsov reiterated essentially same points as listed above, Kuznetsov contended negotiations must not depart from President-Khrushchev agreement, substance of which he described as follows:
A. US is to give assurances against invasion of Cuba either by US or by its Allies, or by any state in Western hemisphere; Kuznetsov commented US trying evade this subject;
B. As evident from Khrushchev's message, USSR will remove missiles which President regards as offensive. He commented there no question that missiles had been subject President-Khrushchev exchange, Security Council debate, and current talks.
In response to direct question whether USSR would include IL-28's in arms to be removed, Kuznetsov replied in negative, stating that they not offensive arms and SovGov would act accordingly. Suggested both sides report problem to their govts.
2. Kuznetsov referred to schedule of removal, saying first Soviet vessel, Labinsk, due to leave November 6, with eight other ships, Bratsk, Leninskiy Komsomol, Kurchatov, Asosov, Divnogorsk, Volgoles, Polzunov, Alapayevsk, to leave November 7. Said he had no information whether this would complete removal operation.
3. Kuznetsov said USSR had decided make Sov vessel Almata available for verification inbound ships by ICRC. Details re signals and identification would have [to] be worked out and appropriate information had been given to member UN Secretariat. This vessel would be stationed north of Cuba and all Sov ships bound for Cuba would use only northern route, although southern route might be used after November 12.
McCloy and Stevenson pointed out no commitment had been made re US willingness accept Soviet ship, and noted neutral, i.e., Swedish, ship could also be used. Kuznetsov professed surprise, claiming US had not objected to Soviet ship. McCloy reiterated he had expressly stated he could not commit US Govt re use of Soviet ship.
4. McCloy then raised subject of removal of warheads, pointing out this very important matter, and wondered how USSR could satisfy US re their removal. Kuznetsov asserted this question of detail; USSR's actions clearly indicate that all equipment related to what US calls offensive missiles will be removed. Thus, there should be no doubt re warheads, if warheads are indeed in Cuba. USSR intends fulfill all these commitments in good faith, but US raising these questions in order postpone final solution of problem. Stevenson and McCloy stressed importance removal warheads, pointing out that with some modification they could also be used on bombers. Suggested verification removal of warheads could perhaps be done on see-and-count basis as Kuznetsov had suggested for missiles. Stevenson noted problem of warheads highlighted importance ground inspection, and wondered what progress Mikoyan had made in Havana. Asked when Mikoyan returning. Kuznetsov replied he did not know. McCloy said President regarded McCloy-Kuznetsov conversation yesterday as useful and indicating progress, to which Kuznetsov replied he gratified hear this and observed such appraisal fully justified, particularly since USSR doing everything necessary to resolve problem ASAP. Reiterated that as to warheads, USSR would remove from Cuba everything related to "so-called" offensive missiles, but noted he could not say anything beyond that.
5. In summing up conversation Stevenson listed following questions as remaining open: Removal IL-28 aircraft, nationality inspection ship, and verification removal of warheads, although Kuznetsov had given assurances warheads would be removed. Kuznetsov disagreed, saying there no open question from Sov standpoint. Concluded US should consider Soviet deeds and respond in kind.
Source: Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438, Background Papers--Cuba. Secret. Received at the Department of State at 1:50 a.m. According to the USUN copy of this telegram, it was drafted by Akalovsky and cleared in substance by Stevenson. (USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-001, Outgoing Telegrams, 1953-1963)