The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Cleveland) to Secretary of State Rusk


Washington, November 28, 1962.


Conversation with Mr. McCloy on Cuba

Mr. McCloy called in at 2:15 p.m. to summarize the results of the meeting which he and Ambassadors Stevenson and Yost had just completed with Mikoyan, Kuznetsov, Zorin, and Mendelevich.

We will have a Niact cable here,(1) probably before the end of the day, so I will summarize here only the highlights:

1. Mikoyan did almost all of the talking. He was clearly influenced by commitments to Castro to make a strong case on Castro's behalf; he also seemed to be motivated by the burden Cuba represents to the USSR. These two motivations produced many references to the "normalization" of relations with Cuba.

2. Mikoyan said our declaration was unsatisfactory, and represented a retreat from correspondences between the President and Khrushchev. He particularly objected to making the non-invasion assurances an intention rather than an unequivocal commitment as it seemed to be in the President's letter of October 27th. Mikoyan also jumped on our overflights and objected to US subversive activities in Cuba.

3. Mikoyan went back to the idea of a protocol signed by all three countries, and seemed to attach a good deal of significance to Cuba being one of the signatories. He would like to have a resolution, not merely a collection of unilateral declarations, in the Security Council.

4. Mikoyan's plea for Castro's conditions seemed more determined and comprehensive than in any of the Kuznetsov-McCloy discussions. Mr. McCloy's guess is that this is still pro forma, but it was spelled out at great length and will undoubtedly be spelled out once again for the President. Mikoyan repeatedly came back to the difficulties in which Castro would find himself, if the situation in the Caribbean could not be "normalized". "Normalization" of the Caribbean was, Mikoyan said, implied in all of the exchanges between the President and Khrushchev.

5. On inspection, the emphasis was on reciprocity, and Mikoyan lectured the American group on the importance of not being obstinate on this point. "Some note of reciprocity should be in the picture, and then we would not have any trouble with Castro on getting international inspection in Cuba". Mikoyan did not address himself to the US gambit that inspection in the United States would require inspection in the Soviet Union, even though this gambit was used again on this occasion. The Soviets mentioned Puerto Rico specifically, but the American negotiators said flatly that the inspection of any part of the United States was not in the cards, as a matter of reciprocity with Cuba alone. On reciprocity inspection, they referred to the "U Thant" proposal. Cuba, Mikoyan said, could not possibly accept a "one-sided inspection"; he said he had told Castro that his (Castro's) position was right on this point.

6. Mikoyan mentioned Guantanamo, indicating he did not expect us to withdraw right away but thought it would be reasonable for us to set a time at which we would begin to negotiate about withdrawal.

7. Mikoyan pressed hard on the U.S. commitment to bring the other members of the Western Hemisphere into line. The U.S. representative emphasized that it came with bad grace from the Soviets to put any emphasis on this point, since they hadn't even been able to bring into line the one Western Hemisphere country with whom they presumably had especially friendly relations.

8. Mikoyan objected to the reference in our declaration to the Rio Pact. He said he had read the Rio Pact (Mr. McCloy got the impression that perhaps he had read it for the first time) and did not like it. The Americans said that it was absolutely necessary to refer to the Rio Pact, since it was the basic document of Western Hemisphere security and we owed it to our co-signers to make clear that we were not, in our arrangements with the Soviets, watering down our commitments under the Rio Pact.

9. There was no detailed discussion of our draft declaration as such; Mikoyan said he would leave that to the negotiators. The Americans did indicate that we were not wedded to the reference in the declaration to U Thant; but no other concessions were made.

10. A tentative date was made for Friday to continue the discussion.

Mr. McCloy's prediction is that Mikoyan will rehearse for the President the Soviet position on the non-invasion pledge, on overflights, and on the need for a reciprocal form of inspection, and that it will not be possible to make any final arrangements with the Soviets in the course of Mikoyan's short visit to Washington. It is, indeed, not clear that Mikoyan expects to wrap this up personally, in which case they might look forward to a somewhat longer negotiation than we had previously assumed they wanted.

Mr. McCloy's suggestion is that the President make clear to Mikoyan:

a. That there is a considerable record of conciliation and perform-ance on both sides, and that the Soviets should not take this moment to turn unreasonable just because they are having difficulty with the unreasonable Mr. Castro.

b. We can't think of giving up overflights, which everybody in the Hemisphere now knows have played such an important role in maintaining the security of the Hemisphere.

c. That the kind of non-invasion statement that is contained in our draft declaration is really the most that the President can constitutionally do, especially in the absence of the arrangements for verification and safeguards that were agreed to in the correspondence between the President and Khrushchev.

d. That it would be useful on both sides to wind the matter up quickly and with maximum good will, without trying to make a bargain out of every word. The Cuban problem will remain; if the Cubans want to normalize relations we are ready and willing to talk with them about it.

On the basis of today's conversation, it does not appear that there will be a quick wrap-up of the matter in the present negotiating framework. We will want to consider the possible alternative of sawing off the negotiations unilaterally if the Soviets stick to their intention to draw the Cubans into the windup arrangements.

1 Telegram 1991 from USUN, November 28. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.56361/11-2862) See the Supplement. There is also a 21-page memorandum of conversation of this meeting in USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-001, 1A October/November meetings. Back

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 11/21/62-11/30/62. Top Secret. Drafted by Cleveland, copies sent to Thompson, Tyler, Martin, and McGeorge Bundy.

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