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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 30, 1963

TOP SECRET CIPHER TELEGRAM FROM ANATOLY DOBRYNIN TO CPSU CENTRAL COMMITTEE

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Dobrynin reports that he met with US Secretary of State, Rusk, and gave him copies of the Soviet embassy’s correspondence with Lee Harvey Oswald.
    "Top Secret Cipher Telegram from Anatoly Dobrynin to CPSU Central Committee," November 30, 1963, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Yeltsin documents given to Bill Clinton on 20 June 1999, US National Archives and Records Administration https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117351
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[handwritten number: 113]

[handwritten: 1062/15124 ciph/12-1-63 TOP SECRET [illegible] 46

CIPHER TELEGRAM REPRODUCTION PROHIBITED

[handwritten: 126 116]  Copy no. 12

WASHINGTON 55380 8 50 1 XII 63

55381 55382

Special no. 2054-2056

URGENT

Today I met Rusk and handed him photocopies of the embassy’s correspondence with Oswald, commenting appropriately on his final letter of 9 November (your special no. 1328).

Rusk thanked me for turning over these documents, saying he greatly appreciated the Soviet side’s initiative in this matter. In addition, Rusk inquired if he could make this correspondence available to the newly formed presidential special commission chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren. I replied that we left it totally to his discretion whether to present this material to anyone, as we were sure he would properly appreciate our step and would act appropriately.

Rusk thanked me again for the photocopies. It was evident that Rusk was quite unprepared for this step on our part, while at the same time (judging form his general behavior) he was pleased with this development.

Rusk asked me, if I could, to find out in Moscow the reasons why the Soviet authorities had refused to grant Soviet citizenship to Oswald when he was still living in the Soviet Union. I promised to forward his request. Please instruct me how to answer Rusk.

Rusk noted in conclusion that he hoped for the Soviet side’s cooperation if the Warren Commission had any requests or queries relating to its investigation. He, Rusk, would then want to turn to me confidentially.

Rusk also said he wanted to use our meeting to touch on certain other matters unofficially.

1. Rusk informed me that yesterday President Johnson had received FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] director [Najeeb E.] Halaby and instructed him to meet with Soviet representatives for a final settlement of technical issues related to a future agreement on the establishment of a New York-Moscow air route. The US embassy in Moscow has been instructed ton consult the MFA on the USSR on this matter. Halaby would be ready to come to Moscow 10-11 December.

2. Rusk then noted that this entire idea belonged to him, since, apart from the issue itself, he thought it important to show that business was continuing under the new president in the same manner as under J. Kennedy. President Johnson agreed with this, according to Rusk.

Rusk then mentioned his meetings with [Soviet Foreign Minister] A.A. Gromyko in New York and Washington at which he raised the issue of the military budget. “I think,” he told me, “that soon, in about 10-15 days, I will be able to tell you [the ambassador] in strict confidence the amount the US government plans to appropriate for the military in next year’s fiscal budget. It will not be larger than the present amount and might even be less.” Rusk then wondered when we would be considering the budget. He did not pose the question directly, but one could gather that he would also like to get some information on this subject from us as well.

Rusk emphasized several times that his remarks did not mean the US government was now concluding some agreement with the Soviet government on this matter. It could not do this for the reasons that had already been set forth in talks with A.A. Gromyko. Nor could it guarantee that the figures Rusk intends to provide us soon in a strictly unofficial form would not be changed later in some way by the US Congress itself, which constitutionally and traditionally has its rights. But he, Rusk, is continuing to think about the usefulness of such an unofficial exchange of opinions “on mutual intentions.”

3. Having mentioned his remarks in the talks with A.A. Gromyko “on the subversive activities of [Cuban leader Fidel] Castro’s government,” Rusk asked me to convey to him in this connection, in a strictly personal, unofficial form, that it had been precisely determined that the three tons of weapons seized the other day in Venezuela had come from Cuba. (Rusk said: “We checked out in particular the numbers of the rifles purchased by Castro some time ago in Belgium and seized now in Venezuela.”)

“I am saying this,” Rusk noted, “not as any representation or comment. Nor can this be the subject of an official talk between us, since Castro’s government exercises authority in its own country and it is unlikely that it consults with anyone when it decides to send weapons to one Latin American country or another, although the Chinese (Rusk added parenthetically, as it were) might be mixed up in this.” Rusk said in conclusion: “I by no means wish to exaggerate the significance of this incident in Venezuela, it’s not that great, but I would simply like to bring this last example to the attention of Mr. Gromyko, with whom I spoke about this matter before. Of course, I do not expect any answer in this matter, and please don’t mention in official conversations and talks what I said today.”

I told Rusk that the latest events in Venezuela were well known, and if one were to speak frankly, they clearly showed the world once more that the Betancourt regime had no popular support, especially now, on the eve of elections; therefore, would it not be logical to expect (and judging from everything, this is indeed the case) that this regime is prepared to stage any provocation, even an international one, just to remain in power?

Rusk smiled but said nothing more.

A fair amount of time was devoted to discussing the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, Rusk did not say anything new compared to his previous statements on this subject. I reiterated our position.

Rusk noted in the course of the conversation that the upcoming NATO meeting in December of this year would be “routine in nature” and, judging from everything, issues relating to the establishment of NATO nuclear forces would basically not be discussed there (Rusk interjected that these issues “are generally discussed through other channels,” but did not amplify on this theme).

Rusk said there were no plans yet for a trip to the upcoming NATO meeting by the new president, Johnson, but it has not been ruled out completely. “Evidently,” Rusk said as though thinking out loud, “Johnson may instead travel to Europe this spring to meet with a number of heads of states that are US allies. But for the time being, no meetings have been planned specifically between the new president and other heads of state, although there is agreement in principle about such meetings with some of them.”

In conclusion, Rusk asked me again to consider our meeting unofficial, as if held “in a family atmosphere.” The entire conversation was between the two of us; nobody else was in the office.

Rusk looks very tired; his eyes are red from sleeplessness (“I’m sleeping 3-4 hours a day right now,” he remarked), but he himself is animated, in an obviously good mood, and gives the appearance of a person secure about his present position in spite of the change in presidents.

30 November 1963

  1. Dobrynin

REPORT: No. 1328 (outgoing no. 33600) of 29 November 1963. Comrade Gromyko said the embassy could give Rusk photocopies of the embassy’s correspondence with Oswald, including his letter of 9 November, but without waiting for a request by the U.S. authorities.

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