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Modern History Sourcebook:
Khrushchev and Eisenhower: Summit Statements, May 16 1960

Nikita Khrushchev: Summit Conference Statement,  May 16,1960As is generally known, a provocative act by the American air force against the Soviet Union has recently taken place. It consisted in the fact that on May I of this year a U.S. military reconnaissance plane intruded into the U.S.S.R. on a definite espionage mission of gathering intelligence about military and industrial installations on Soviet territory. After the aggressive purpose of the plane's flight became clear, it was shot down by a Soviet rocket unit. Unfortunately, this is not the only instance of aggressive and espionage actions by the U.S. air force against the Soviet Union.Naturally, the Soviet government was obliged to describe these actions by their proper name and show their perfidious character, inconsistent with the elementary requirements of normal peacetime relations between states, to say nothing of their conflicting grossly with the aim of reducing international tension and creating the conditions needed for fruitful work at the Summit conference. This was done both in my speeches at the session of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet and in a special protest note sent to the U.S. government.At first the U.S. State Department gave out an absurd version to the effect that the American plane had violated the frontiers of the Soviet Union by accident and had not had any spying or subversive assignment. When this version was shown with incontrovertible facts to be manifest falsehood, the U.S. State Department on May 7, and then the Secretary of State oil May 9, declared on behalf of the U.S. government that intrusions into the Soviet Union for purposes of military espionage were carried out by American aircraft in accordance with a programme approved by the U.S. government and by the President in person. Two days later President Eisenhower himself confirmed that flights by American planes over the territory of the Soviet Union were and remained a calculated policy of the United States. This was also stated by the U.S. government in its note to the Soviet government on May 12. Thereby the U.S. government has grossly flouted the generally accepted standards of international law and the lofty principles of the U.N. Charter, which bears the signature of the United States also. .Now that the leaders of the governments of the Four Powers have come to Paris for their conference, the question arises: how is it possible to productively negotiate and examine the questions confronting the conference, when the U.S. government and personally the President have not only failed to condemn the provocative intrusion of an American military plane into the Soviet Union, but, on the contrary, have declared that such actions remain official U.S. policy towards the U.S.S.R? How can agreement be reached on this or that issue needing to be settled in order to lessen tension and remove suspicion and distrust between states, when the government of one of the Great Powers says outright that it is its policy to intrude into the confines of another Great Power for spying and subversive purposes, and consequently to heighten tension in the relations between the powers? Obviously, the proclamation of such a policy, which can only be adopted when nations are at war, dooms the Summit conference in advance to total failure. . . .It follows from all this that for the conference to be successful, the governments of all the powers represented must adopt an honest and forthright policy and solemnly declare that they will not commit against each other any actions which constitute a violation of national sovereignty. That means that if the U.S. government is really prepared to co-operate with the governments of other powers in the interests of maintaining peace and strengthening confidence among the nations, it must, firstly, condemn the unpardonable provocative actions of the U.S. air force in regard to the Soviet Union and, secondly, renounce continuing such actions and such a policy against the U.S.S.R. in the future. It goes without saying that in that event the U.S. government cannot fail to call to stern account those immediately responsible for the deliberate violation of the Soviet Union's national frontiers by American planes. . . .It is natural that under these conditions we are unable to work at the conference, unable to work at it because we see from what positions it is desired to talk to us - under threat of aggressive intelligence flights. Everyone knows that spying flights are undertaken for intelligence purposes with a view to starting war. Accordingly, we reject the conditions in which the United States is placing us. We cannot take part in any negotiations, not even in the settlement of questions which are already ripe, because we see that the U.S. has no desire to reach agreement. . . .We wish to be rightly understood by the peoples of all countries of the globe, by public opinion. The Soviet Union is not abandoning its efforts for agreement, and we are sure that reasonable agreements are possible, but evidently at some other, not this particular time. . . .The Soviet government is profoundly convinced that if not this U.S. government, then another, and if not another, then a third, will understand that there is no other solution than peaceful co-existence of the two systems, the capitalist and the socialist. It is either peaceful co-existence, or war, which would spell disaster for those now engaging in an aggressive policy.We therefore consider that a certain amount of time should be allowed to elapse, so that the present issues may simmer down and those responsible for shaping the country's policies may analyze what a responsibility they have incurred in proclaiming an aggressive course in relation to the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries. Accordingly, we feel that the best thing will be to postpone the Heads of Government conference for some six or eight months.The Soviet Union, for its part, will not relax its efforts to secure agreement. I think that public opinion will correctly understand our position, will understand that it was made impossible for us to participate in these negotiations. However, we firmly believe in the necessity of peaceful co-existence, for to lose faith in peaceful co-existence would mean dooming humanity to war, it would mean accepting that war IS inevitable-and everyone knows what calamities war today would spell for all the peoples of the globe. . . .We regret that this Meeting has been torpedoed by the reactionary element in the United States as the outcome of provocative flights by American military planes over the Soviet Union.We regret that this meeting has not led to the results which all the peoples of the world expected to follow from it.Let the shame and blame for it fall on those who have proclaimed a brigand policy in relation to the Soviet Union. . . .I think that both Mr. Eisenhower and the American people will understand me rightly.The Soviet government declares that it for its part will continue to do everything in its power to promote the relaxation of international tension and the solution of the problems which today still divide us; in this we shall be guided by the interests of furthering the great cause of peace on the basis of the peaceful co-existence of states with differing social systems.Source:from New Times, No. 21 (May 1960), pp. 34-36.
Dwight Eisenhower: Summit Conference Statement, May 16, 1960…Having in mind the great importance of this conference and the hopes that the peoples of all the world have reposed in this meeting, I concluded that in the circumstances it was best to see if at today's private meeting any possibility existed through the exercise of reason and restraint to dispose of this matter of the overflights, which would have permitted the conference to go forward. . . ,Accordingly, at this morning's private session, despite the violence and inaccuracy of Mr. Khrushchev's statements, I replied to him in the following terms:In my statement of May 11th and in the statement of Secretary Herter of May 9th the position of the United States was made clear with respect to the distasteful necessity of espionage activities in a world where nations distrust each other's intentions. We pointed out that these activities had no aggressive intent but rather were to assure the safety of the United States and the free world against surprise attack by a power which boasts of its ability to devastate the United States and other countries by missiles armed with atomic warheads. . . .There is in the Soviet statement an evident misapprehension on one key point. It alleges that the United States has, through official statements, threatened continued overflights. The importance of this alleged threat was emphasized and repeated by Mr. Kbrushchev. The United States has made no such threat. Neither I nor my Government has intended any. The actual statements go no further than to say that the United States will not shirk its responsibility to safeguard against surprise attack.In point of fact, these flights were suspended after the recent incident and are not to be resumed. Accordingly, this cannot be the issue.I have come to Paris to seek agreements with the Soviet Union which would eliminate the necessity for all forms of espionage, including overflights. I see no reason to use this incident to disrupt the conference.Should it prove impossible, because of the Soviet attitude, to come to grips here in Paris with this problem and the other vital issues threatening world peace, I am planning in the near future to submit to the United Nations a proposal for the creation of a United Nations aerial surveillance to detect preparations for attack. This plan I had intended to place before this conference. This surveillance system would operate in the territories of all nations prepared to accept such inspection. For its part, the United States is prepared not only to accept United Nations aerial surveillance but to do everything in its power to contribute to the rapid organization and successful operation of such international surveillance.We of the United States are here to consider in good faith the important problems before this conference. We are prepared either to carry this point no further or to undertake bilateral conversations between the United States and the U.S.S.R. while the main conference proceeds.[]Mr. Khrushchev brushed aside all arguments of reason and not only insisted upon this ultimatum but also insisted that be was going to publish his statement in full at the time of his own choosing. It was thus made apparent that he was determined to wreck the Paris conference. . . .In spite of this serious and adverse development I have no intention whatsoever to diminish my continuing efforts to promote progress toward a peace with Justice. This applies to the remainder of my stay in Paris as well as thereafter.
Source:from The Department of State Bulletin, XLII, No. 109 (June 6, 1960), pp. 904-905.

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© Paul Halsall, July 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu