The Paris Summit Falls Apart

Published: 1960
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Andrei Gromyko whispers something into the ear of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during a luncheon at the United Nations in New York sometime in October of 1960. (UPI Photo/Files)

Announcer: A short time later the eyes of the world turned from Westminster Abbey to Paris, a meeting at the Summit. But before it began the signs of impending failure were evident and a new term was added to our lexicon of power politics, U-2.

Stewart Hensley: This is Stewart Hensley of United Press International at Summit Conference Headquarters in Paris. The fate of the 1960 Paris Summit Conference teetered precariously in the balance tonight. After the brutally dramatic developments this afternoon at the Palace. There Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev tongue-ledged President Eisenhower over the issue of the American Spy Plane. He accused him of basing American foreign policy on treachery.

Announcer: Press Secretary Jim Hagerty read President Eisenhower's statement to reporters.

President Eisenhower: It was thus made apparent that he was determined to wreck the Paris Conference. He came all the way from Moscow to Paris with the sole intention of sabotaging this meeting, on which so much of the hopes of the world have rested.

Announcer: Chip Bohlen, former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

Chip Bohlen: Mr. Khrushchev provided a few highlights which I might mention to you. It's on the subject of the innocence in regard to espionage he raised his arms above his head and said, “As God is my witness, my hands are clean and my soul is pure”.

Announcer: The next day May 17, the fears of the world were confirmed.

Unknown Speaker: Today we watched the 1960 Summit Conference die by stages. The drama had everything, everything, that is, except some progress towards settling the ills that beset the world. The Summit was officially buried.

Announcer: The Summit was dead and buried. But the war of nerves and words was just coming to life.

Paris, May 18, Soviet Premier Khrushchev presiding at a news conference.

Nikita Khrushchev: (In Russian)

Interpreter: Will it be better ladies and gentlemen to give the American aggressors, to take the American aggressors by the scruff of the neck also and give them a little shaking and make them understand that they must not commit such acts of aggression against the Soviet Union. If he comes again he will receive another blow. As well the bases from which he takes off from where he intends to land.

Announcer: The U-2, a single plane, a single pilot. An incident which was becoming one of the largest single areas of conflict in the Cold War.

The next day the verbal gladiators retired from Paris.

Unknown Speaker: I share the disappointment of my colleagues that we could make no progress towards easing the tensions that so plague mankind. But I equally share the confidence that we are the western allies both through their governments and through their people are joined even closer than before. Thank you all very much.

Announcer: Three hours after President Eisenhower departed the Russian National Anthem heralded the departure of Prime Minister Khrushchev.

Unknown Speaker: "Russian"

An invitation to the President to visit the Soviet Union was abruptly withdrawn. Nevertheless, President Eisenhower pursuing his people-to-people diplomacy left on a journey to Alaska and the far east. Only the Soviet portion of the trip was canceled, until leftest agitative riots threatened Civil War in Japan over the impending ratification of the US-Japanese mutual security pact. This time the war of words got out of hand. Ernie Hobright reported from Tokyo.

Unknown Speaker: A group of communists and left-wing students attacked the Japanese Parliament building. They have it under seize right now. All these new violent developments raise serious new fears about the safety of President Eisenhower who will visit Japan in a few days, and I watch this rioting start about sundown and for all fanatical attacks against police barricades.

Announcer: Two days later the Japanese government regretfully asked Mr. Eisenhower not to come to Tokyo in the interests of his own safety. Bob Klaverkemp reported.

Bob Klaverkemp: President Eisenhower is not coming to Japan. It is a victory for international communism.