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Khrushchev's reply(1) was read to the group, the President not having yet arrived.
A statement to be made by the President at his 6:00 PM press conference was discussed and approved.(2) The following decisions were reached:
a. The quarantine is to be lifted immediately and a proclamation revoking it is to be prepared.(3)
b. U.S. naval forces in the Caribbean will remain there for the time being and carry out normal exercises. Ships in the area will not be removed because it is normal for some to be always on station in the Caribbean. Latin American ships which are in the quarantine force will be asked to stay and participate in exercises.
c. Secretary McNamara recommended, and the President agreed, that there would be no low-level reconnaissance missions flown tomorrow.
d. High-level flights averaging not more than one a day will continue intermittently because of the importance of knowing that the IL-28 bombers are actually being removed.
Two other actions are to be taken without public notice:
a. The SAC air alert will be terminated and all other military forces will be put on a reduced alert basis.
b. TAC planes concentrated along the coast will be deployed inland.
Secretary McNamara recommended that within forty-eight hours we announce that the air reserves called up for the Cuban crisis would be released before Christmas.
The OAS Organ of Consultation meeting will be called off. The State Department will call in the Latin American Ambassadors before the President's press conference to brief them on the Russian reply.
Attention was called to the reference in the reply to Soviet ground forces. The assumption was that these forces would be removed.
The President asked where the question of our no-invasion assurance stands. In the light of what Khrushchev has agreed to do, if he does not get our assurances he will have very little. We should keep the assurances informal and not follow up with a formal document in the UN.
Alexis Johnson returned to the meeting to report that ABC reporter John Scali had been given the substance of Khrushchev's reply by a Russian source.(4) There followed a discussion of whether we should insist on shipside inspection of the IL-28 bomber removal. No clear decision was reached, some of the group believing we should insist on the shipside inspection and others saying this was not necessary.
There was further discussion of the no-invasion assurances. The Attorney General expressed his opposition to giving the assurance informally. We would be giving away a bargaining counter because Khrushchev is not insisting on having formal assurances. The President restated his view that Khrushchev would be in a difficult position if he gave us something and got nothing in return. We do not want to convey to him that we are going back on what he considers our bargain.
An instruction to McCloy and Stevenson(5) is to be drafted which says that we will make no formal no-invasion assurance and explained why we declined to do so.
Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. III, Meetings, 25-32a. Top Secret; Sensitive. The President arrived at 4 p.m. and the meeting lasted until 4:55 p.m. (Ibid., President's Appointment Book) McGeorge Bundy's record of action of this meeting is ibid., National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. III, Meetings, 25-32a.