Heads-Of-State Diplomacy

December 5, 1962

Report Outline
Consultation Among Heads of Government
Evolution of the Summit Conference
Characteristics of Summit Diplomacy

Consultation Among Heads of Government

Approaching Conferences in Paris and Bahamas

Anew round of consultations among the government chiefs of the four principal powers of the West will be completed a few days before Christmas by conferences of President Kennedy with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in the Bahamas. The present series of meetings began in mid-November when Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of West Germany, on his third visit to Washington since Kennedy became President, conferred for two days with the Chief Executive and other American officials. Macmillan is to spend December 15 and 16 with President Charles de Gaulle of France before meeting President Kennedy on December 19. The latter conversations—sixth Kennedy-Macmillan consultation in the past two years—will last into the next day.

Face-to-face discussions among the Western leaders have been taking place with a fair degree of regularity in recent years. They offer a means of weighing world problems in a relatively informal atmosphere and of removing obstacles to maintenance of a common front in the cold war with the Soviet Union. The talks in the current series follow close on the Cuban crisis and no doubt are concerned in large part with a reassessment of the Western position in the aftermath of that dangerous East-West confrontation.

Kennedy-Khrushchev Negotiations in Cuban Crisis

The Cuban crisis itself was put on the way to settlement by a new brand of heads-of-government diplomacy—in effect a summit conference by correspondence. Hans J. Morgenthau, former consultant to the State Department, has pointed out that President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev “resorted successfully to a device which neither belongs to the traditional diplomatic procedures nor is a summit meeting proper: a kind of long-distance summit in the form of an exchange of personal letters.” Four letters—two from each man—have been made public, but an undisclosed number have been kept secret.

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