U.S. Department of State
96/08/29 FRUS, Vol. VI, Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges
Office of the Historian
For Immediate Release
August 29, 1996
Release of: Foreign Relations Of the United States, Vol. VI
The Department of State is releasing today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, volume VI, Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges, a volume in the Department's long-standing historical documentary series. Volume VI is one of many volumes documenting the foreign policies of the administration of John F. Kennedy
The volume presents for the first time the complete correspondence(more than 100 separate messages(between President John F. Kennedy and Chairman Nikita S. Khrushchev. It includes both the personal and very confidential exchanges between the two leaders transmitted through special emissaries, which became known as the "pen pal" correspondence, as well as their formal and public exchanges. The exchanges began even before President Kennedy's inauguration and led directly to their only, nearly disastrous meeting in Vienna in June 1961. The correspondence concentrates on the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, the Berlin crisis of 1961-1962, and the nuclear test ban negotiations, which together commanded so much of the two men's attention, but other issues ranging from the conflicts in Laos and Vietnam to arms reduction initiatives and space exploration also were subjects of their exchanges.
The correspondence between President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev was unique in a number of ways. It gave rise to the first informal written exchange between Cold War leaders. Its existence as a reliable, direct, and quick channel of communications was instrumental in avoiding international catastrophe during the Cuban missile crisis. It was a key early contributor to the learning process that over several decades allowed leaders of the two nations to communicate with each other with growing mutual understanding and eventually with trust. In the field of arms control, the exchange allowed President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev to haggle over the details of an arms control agreement; in later years that function was assumed by growing arms control bureaucracies and standing delegations. The correspondence also showed clear differences in the personalities and leadership styles of the two men, as well as the larger political cultures in which they worked.
An announcement of the contents of volume VI is available in the Press Office. Ordering information is included in the announcement. Many copies are available for reading and consultation in the Press Office, and other copies are available for consultation in the Office of the Historian.