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Documents on Germany, 1944-1959 : background documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a chronology of political developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956

Letter from President Eisenhower to Premier Bulganin, on Germany, European security, and disarmament, January 12, 1958,   pp. 228-236 PDF (3.9 MB)

Page 235

(e) I also renew my proposal that we begin progressively to take
measures to guarantee against the possibility of surprise attack. I
recall, Mr. Chairman, that we began to discuss this at our personal
meeting two and a half years ago, but nothing has happened although
there is open a wide range of choices as to where to begin.
The capacity to verify the fulfillment of commitments is of the es-
sence in all these matters, including the reduction of conventional
forces and weapons, and it would surely be useful for us to study to-
gether through technical groups what are the possibilities in this
respect upon which we could build if we then decide to do so. These
technical studies could, if you wish, be undertaken without commit-
ment as to ultimate acceptance, or as to the interdependence, of the
propositions involved. It is such technical studies of the possibilities
of verification and supervision that the United Nations has proposed
as a first step. I believe that this is a first step that would promote
hope in both of our countries and in the world. Therefore I urge
that this first step be undertaken.
I have noted your conclusion, Mr. Chairman, that you attach great
importance to personal contact between statesmen and that you for
your part would be prepared to come to an agreement on a personal
meeting of state leaders to discuss both the problems mentioned in
your letter and other problems.
I too believe that such personal contacts can be of value. I showed
that by coming to Geneva in the summer of 1955. I have repeatedly
stated that there is nothing I would not do to advance the cause of a
just and durable peace.
But meetings between us do not automatically produce good results.
Preparatory work, with good will on both sides, is a prerequisite to
success. High level meetings, in which we both participate, create
great expectations and for that reason involve a danger of disillusion-
ment, dejection and increased distrust if in fact the meetings are ill-
prepared, if they evade the root causes of danger, if they are used
primarily for propaganda, or if agreements arrived at are not fulfilled.
Consequently, Mr. Chairman, this is my proposal:
I am ready to meet with the Soviet leaders to discuss the proposals
mentioned in your letter and the proposals which I make, with the
attendance as appropriate of leaders of other states which have recog-
nized responsibilities in relation to one or another of the subjects we
are to discuss. It would be essential that prior to such a meeting these
complex matters should be worked on in advance through diplomatic
channels and by our Foreign Ministers, so that the issues can be pre-
sented in form suitable for our decisions and so that it can be ascer-
tained that such a top-level meeting would, in fact, hold good hope of
advancing the cause of peace and justice in the world. Arrangements
should also be made for the appropriate inclusion, in the preparatory
work, of other governments to which I allude.
I have made proposals which seem to me to be worthy of our atten-
tion and which correspond to the gravity of our times. They deal
with the basic problems which press upon us and which if unresolved
would make it ever more difficult to maintain the peace. The Soviet

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